In the midst of living we often need help to remember what we know.
Strong emotions may “shoot” us back into some old place where we did not know how to move forward in our lives. Many people speak of feeling confused,. Others experience being overwhelmed. Others feel imprisoned. However we experience such moments, God understands that this happens. In loving kindness, God has provided the tools of meditation, the presence of others and help through the Spirit.
I was sitting in a Tim Horton’s with a friend. He had had “the best day at work” he had experienced in a while. He was very happy. His joy was contagious. This was a very good moment between two people who wish each other well. God is kind.
Then his face changed. He looked troubled, even somehow frozen in time. He and his wife were in a difficult place. She gets loud. He freezes, always has.
Help begins with remembering what we know.
I begin to meditate when I see that look in someone’s eyes. Other’s old, black places are kind of contagious. So I ask for God’s wisdom. Like many others I tend to get hooked by similar old stuff in my life. When hooked, I don’t remember what I know either. As the 18th century essayist and moralist Samuel Johnson used to say,
“Memory is the mother of all wisdom”
God has promised us that He will give us the words when they are needed. As my awareness filled with my own experience of feeling helpless in the face of another’s anger, I asked, “Lord, what do you want me to hear?” I waited and listened to both my friend and for the nudging of the Spirit within. From somewhere outside my normal thought processes I heard myself saying to my friend,
“Ah, do you expect that if you remain quiet and agree with your wife’s criticism, her anger will blow over, she will feel bad about having taken it out on you and you then get cookies?”
I experienced these moments as gifts from another intelligence. “Words of Wisdom or Revelation” Paul called these moments. One of the works of the Holy Spirit is to gift us with insight we cannot discover on our own.
My friends face broke into a huge grin.
“Yep, that’s what is meant to happen. In fact, she does not feel bad. No cookies for me, just frustration.”
Well, such moments of the connection between two souls is a gift. It is often not this neat, but if we invite enough people to disentangle themselves from their emotions and remember what they know, it does happen. And it is just wonderful for both when it does. God is kind.
When people shift our of their dark places and begin to think about what is happening today and about the other person, they are usually stuck at first. Help then becomes helping them find what they already know.
He asked me how he should move forward and I am always tempted to answer. “I can help you because I am so ….whatever.” Years of experience says that the “wise councilor role” is not much of a help. So I reminded him of the truth. Somewhere within himself he already knows that he needs to know. Jesus is eager to help him remember.
I also reminded him that his wife understands far more wisdom than she uses when upset. Jesus is eager for her to remember and to use what she has forgotten in the moment. So we ask Jesus to open our eyes to what we know. Invite others to do the same.
When we invite others to allow God to open their minds, their hearts, their eyes or their ears to what the know, sometimes they say “What?” and get confused. They might get angry. Occasionally, a light goes on and they experience a moment of insight and healing. We are not responsible for their response. We just make the invitation. That is what Help looks like. My job was to invite him to know what he knows. His job is to invite his wife to know what she knows.
Invite others to meditate seeking the nudge of the Holy Spirit to experience the gift of knowing what they know.
Then I asked him to get still inside and when he was to ask a simple question, “Lord, what do you want me to understand about my wife?” That prayer is the prayer of asking God to help us remember what we know when we need it. It gets us out of our dismal swamp of ancient hurts and frustrations and into the here and now of loving each other.
His face lit up as the same Spirit that gave me a word of wisdom gave him the gift of insight. “Whenever she has a problem with her daughter she wants to be reassured that she is a good mother.”
When his wife is concerned that she has blown it as a mother, she forgets what she knows. She just begins to demand that someone else assume her responsibilities as a mom. She thinks she wants them to solve the problem.
Well, that works about as well as hunkering down and waiting for cookies. He realized that and now had a beginning place that allowed him to experiment with a new way of moving forward in his relationship with his wife.
I encourage you to remember three things, things your probably already know but need to remember when you need to remember.
Other’s hurts are likely to trigger old feelings within us. If we have allowed God to bring healing and insight into our own struggles, we have freedom to really hear them. Then we may sense God’s leading rather than flee our own hurts. Learn to meditate as they talk in order to disengage from our immediate responses to their story and listen for God’s wisdom instead.
When we “hear” a word of wisdom that comes to us as a gift, share it without expectation. It might be right on target. It might not be. The other person may not be ready to hear it. Respect that. We have been unready often when others have given us a word of insight. So in the humility of honesty we extend the same privilege to others.
That said, at times it is our joy to connect with another at just the right time with good words and images that they can hear. Then it happens. We experience a moment that is holy, a moment in which our hearts, the hearts of another and the presence of the Spirit come together for healing, for blessing and even the immediate experience of God’s active love.