Who Are We?

A wise woman blogging through a difficult transition recently wrote that she’s “trying to set energy aside for dealing with life’s daily hiccups before they derail [her].”  Immediately, I knew what she meant; I call it “emotional fat”–that energy, a shock-absorber, that keeps spilled milk from becoming a puddle of tears and torn-out hair.

Sometimes we lose our way when it comes to an equal-and-opposite reaction, or even better–no “reaction” at all, but being a non-anxious presence in the midst of upheaval.

Coming back from a place of emotional-boney-ness (which may come up suddenly and without warning, or you may know very well whence it comes, but it’s still unexpected when its impact is so great) takes time, of course, and it happens gradually, with the help of loved ones, and sometimes doctors, and often (for me) chocolate and pastry.  Then one day, you look back, and though you’ve got plenty of new stressors, you realize you don’t even want that pastry you promised to yourself for completing the task–the task being done is plenty, or perhaps the task itself was a joy.  You make a mental note, “Remember, Self: you love this task which you do.  You may not think so, but the moment you get yourself out of bed, or into the car, or onto the phone, you love the way the task reminds you of who you are, and the way the task helps you to be connected.”

I wonder if some of the emotional-boney-ness comes from losing track of who you are.  We are the relationships we have–I wouldn’t be Emily if I didn’t have two brothers who live in NYC and with whom I became who I am; I wouldn’t be Emily if I didn’t have lots of family of varying blood-relation splattered all over the globe.  Apart from our relationships, we don’t exist, and being un-connected can sort of make us feel as if we aren’t there at all.

On the deepest level, the relationship which truly defines us is Jesus.  God came to rub shoulders with each of us, and in relationship to us, with so much love, peacefully, willingly gave up his life for each of us, that we may all be together at the end of time with no death or disconnection ever again.  Our worth and energy and emotional fat comes from working to believe* that God really does love you so much as to give up everything for you.

*this is “faith,” and it is a gift, not something we can really work our way into, but it does seem that we’re told a lot of lies about our worth and what makes us worthy.  we continue to pray.

Grey’s Anatomy & Jesus

I’ve found my true calling: recognizing (“rationalizing”?) the echoes and underpinnings of the Christian message in popular television.  It’s a difficult job–watching lots of television and searching as for a needle in a haystack to find something true to affirm–but it’s the calling I’ve been given.  (tongue-in-cheek, my friends)

But seriously: in this year’s season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, a main character realizes that she and her ex-husband/companion/lover (that is, they got divorced in order to keep their love alive…) have mutually exclusive life goals, and that she must end the relationship.  The nugget of wisdom I heard in all this mess was this woman telling her not-husband, as he tried to convince her that their relationship didn’t have to end over the difference they suffered, “It’s already happened.”  He’d had a desire to adopt a child, and while it was only a desire, it was one that he dwelt on and dreamt of, all the while, not telling her.  It didn’t work out, and he didn’t try to adopt the boy, but the not-wife knew that the damage had already been done.  The irreversible change in their relationship had already happened, though he hadn’t made any physical, procedural, or preparatory moves toward this life change.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.'” (Matthew 5:27-28)

In our relationships, how much damage is done by both the fleeting thoughts and the thought-patterns that we allow to seep into our heads?  I’m aware that just by saying out loud to everyone who asks, “this move has been bewilderingly easy and wonderful!”  I’m teaching myself to believe it’s true (of course, it helps when, as in my case, it happens to be true!).  Hearing yourself, or someone else, say the same positive thing again and again makes it seep into your head and heart, and you begin to believe it–because it’s true (a lot of life is which details we choose to underline).

However, if we aren’t active about the sorts of things we habitually say and think, we easily slip into negative habits and thought patterns, looking at others with contempt, focusing on our exhaustion (as we complain to everyone how tired and achy and over-worked we are). Or, in the case of our favorite Grey’s Anatomy characters, our minds run away with us and our plans, knowing that at some point the new life we’ve created in our heads will come crashing down when reality–that is, trying to life out this dream-life–sets in.

There are times and places for honest discussion about those things in life which are challenging, and perhaps even suffocating for us, but being aware of our mental tape loops  can allow us to create new, powerful, more truthful thought-and-speaking patterns about our lives.

With (spoiler alert!) Yang & Hunt on GA, Christina Yang knows that Owen Hunt’s foray into fatherhood through adoption in his mind has already planted the growing seed of desire which will turn to resentment; “it’s already happened”–our thoughts count.