Last night I had a profound dream about a little girl and her brother. They were both in kindergarten and very sweet children. It became clear to me that they were going to be my children as their mother had abandoned them both at the school and they had no place to go. I told the little girl, Ashleigh that they would be coming home with me after class that day and she laughed and jumped up into my arms so grateful to have a home to go home to at the end of her day. As I squeezed her in my arms she said to me quietly “I just hope that when I see my mother again I will have the courage to ask her why she did this to me.” This moment to me in the dream really meant something. There is a message there for all of us, I think. We all have times in our lives where we are abandoned at a crossroads – where we no longer have a path but a briar patch instead, through which we must tread in order to find the next path. There will be scratches because there are always thorns in the briars. Those wounds may even leave scars.
There are so many obstacles and challenges in life that feel like earthquakes shaking the foundation of our very existence. From divorce to the loss of a job or family member there are many things that cast us off the nice patted down path of life we are walking on and toss us out into the briar patch. It’s so easy to get lost in the chaos. We get lost from our friends and family. We can even get lost from ourselves. We can find ourselves alone and afraid, bitter and angry at life and at God. But if we remain awake within the nightmare and we do our best to balance our perspective which means looking at our circumstance from a higher place, sometimes we can discover the right question to ask ourselves that will help us to navigate toward the next path to better our situation and to take our lives to a better destination.
This may sound silly at first. But if you really consider that we each have a higher consciousness deep within us that views the world from a non-emotional perspective this truly makes sense. Why wouldn’t we want to find that clarity and understanding? It is a priceless tool for life’s navigational purposes. Sometimes we might even just consider that a lot of the briar patches we find ourselves scrambling through are ones we chucked ourselves into by making emotional decisions from places of pain and chaos because we never found the stillness within ourselves that can override reckless emotions. How many close relationships have you been involved in that didn’t work out? Maybe there were fights. Maybe words were used as darts from both sides like a battleground at breakfast. Maybe there was silence and distance. Maybe there was disillusionment. Maybe there was betrayal. It could be that you were the betrayer. Or you could carry the scars of the betrayed. How many of those ended relationships do you look back on today and realize that the other person wasn’t nearly as bad as they seemed at that time? How many times do you view them from this new perspective and see the truth about yourself and the honesty of that relationship? I certainly have many times. It’s easier to see a situation from another person’s vantage point when we put down our weapons and listen for the truth.
Sometimes the wars we fight with others are really wars that we are fighting with ourselves on the inside. We just involve them because those places of pain inside of us project onto those relationships the things we fear most. So we fight and struggle to press down those seemingly external threats. And at the end of the war while we bandage our wounds and sit in reflection of the loss we realize how many of those were actually self-inflicted. Sometimes good people murder decent relationships as part of a war within themselves because the fight continues on no matter who the other person in the relationship happens to be at that moment. It’s the same war just on a different battlefield. And wars always leave casualties.
People hold onto pain. We cling to regret and resentments that do nothing to bring about healing of any kind. We grasp what we consider to be truth (whether it really is or not) and we run through our lives shouting it to the world. We have been wronged! We have been damaged! We are angry and unforgiving. But why? Sometimes forgiveness is a huge ring of fire to try and jump through, especially when we are still hurting inside. Wounds on the inside tend to fester. They fester into deep anger, hatred and bitterness and soon the only thing we can hold onto are the resentments themselves. Wounds on the inside of people, meaning emotional pain has to be drained in order to establish healing. They do not close on their own. They just fester and spread. They spread because we begin to feverishly see repetitions of the pain we so much want to avoid in other people. We silently and fearfully weigh out the probabilities that new people will create old pain for us. And we never put down our weapons because we are wounded and always at war.
But, what we need to realize is the simple truth that every battle has two sets of stories. There are reasons and reactions and emotional decisions that keep the battles heated and going on in our lives for decades. People get tired of fighting and leave but they are replaced by new people we fight the same battles with again and again. Did you ever consider that we are both the giver and the recipient of our own pain? There are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle is the truth. But we will never find the truth until we are willing to see things from both sides. The accomplishment of this amazing feat requires stillness, openness and trust.
So, how do you drain those emotional wounds and prevent poisoning of your entire life? By first creating the intention to do so. Secondly, by consciously putting down your story and your weapons (meaning judgments and harsh thoughts against others) and finally by exercising forgiveness. But forgiveness is more than words that put a band-aid on a situation. It goes far deeper than that and requires us to experience honesty and openness on a level we most likely have never known before.
In my dream, Ashleigh and her brother were casualties of some unknown war being fought in the battleground of their mother. Ashleigh represented a wounded part of her mother and her willingness in the pain to commit to asking herself courageous and profound questions meant that she had already outgrown the scars of the battle and that for her the briar patch had already become an open path to understanding.
So, if you’re standing in the briar patch today, then maybe it’s time to start asking some really important questions. The first is do you want healing for your life? Are you tired of fighting battles that repeat endlessly? Are you finished hurting yourself? Do you want a better life for yourself and your loved ones? If you have answered YES to any of these questions you are ready for the next step.