Posted on February 21, 2019 by Jenn Zatopek
Yesterday, I sat with my spiritual advisor and and discussed the various issues that are causing me suffering right now. He made a stunning comment, suggesting that my emotional turbulence for the past several months is due to my heart breaking open.
At the mention of that phrase, I immediately recoiled because I do not want to keep breaking apart. But he insisted, stating that this is the part of the transformation process. He said “Jenn, you are not breaking apart but breaking wide open.” What a grand metaphor for growth and goodness and healing!
What I am coming to comprehend is that the act of submerging my emotional pain for so long has cost me joy and peace, making it difficult to live fully in the freedom of Christ. For many years, decades really, I numbed my feelings through busyness, church activity, television, sex, relationship obsession, reading, and focusing on the sins of others.
But that isn’t how I want to live anymore.
And so I get to act against my normal habitual ways of being, meaning I get to respond differently. Now I get to a chance to wade into the loss of a myriad of things that caused me great harm. I can look at grief like this red door in the picture above, as a point of entry for change.
Certainly, I can walk past the door and go about my merry way, cheerfully ignoring the emotional pain from my past and let its poison continue to negatively impact my heart, soul, and body, and harm the life-giving relationships I have. Like you, I always have choices to make.
The great Jewish philosopher Martin Buber once wrote that “all real life is encounter.” I can avoid the very real encounter of grief or I can walk through the door, and feel the sadness for all the things that have happened to me. I can feel the tears coursing down my face, the pain of loss, and allow those holy tears to seep into my wounds from the past, knowing there is health in those tears. I can emerge from the fire of grief, a transformed being, fully and completely alive, knowing that the Divine has loved me even during all my days and nights.
Grief and fear have forced me to admit that I cannot take life glibly. I am walking through that doorway today, allowing the Divine to do the work while I follow the Spirit’s guidance, Her loving arms wrapped around me.
The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe. (Joanna Macy)
Buber, Martin. I and Thou. New York: Scribner, 1958.