We all have “tools” in our toolbox for dealing with circumstances which confuse us, scare us, or cause us pain. Some of us get angry and lash out. Some of us retreat and isolate ourselves. My tool of choice is to analyze.
It used to be that in order to accept an unpleasant reality, I had to first understand it, thoroughly. What were the circumstances that lead us to this place? What makes the people I love behave the way they do? Is there a family history of dysfunction? Why do I react even when I know it won’t help? I needed to be certain there was nothing I could do to change the unacceptable.
This tendency is ingrained in me. It’s even in my name. My initials are “C. Y.” Say it out loud. See why. It would seem my purpose in life is to get to the bottom of things.
There are some wonderful gifts that accompany this trait. It can help me to see the big picture and the details simultaneously when I’m working in a project. It cultivates compassion for people who hurt me because I want to understand what motivates them. It has also helped me develop a heightened sense of self-awareness, honesty and integrity.
But even the most useful tools can be used as weapons. Not everyone appreciates my ability to analyze a situation inside and out, especially if I’m analyzing them! I’ve irritated other people, and I’ve also prolonged my own pain by refusing to accept until I fully understood.
Ultimately, my obsession with understanding why is just an unsuccessful attempt at controlling the uncontrollable and postponing the only action that will give me peace – accepting people just as they are. Myself included.
When I’m tempted to analyze people and situations, I’ve had to learn to use a new tool. It’s a very simple statement of faith and trust – “More will be revealed.” It’s my shortcut to acceptance.
This weekend’s Gospel starts with Jesus telling the Apostles, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” It’s Christ’s way of saying, “More will be revealed.”
God has indeed revealed to me the “why” of my many troubling habits, but not all at once and only when I was ready to bear it.
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans today sheds light on one of my other shortcuts to acceptance – gratitude. Only he doesn’t use that word; he uses the word “boast.”
“We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint.”
It is easy to make a gratitude list of all the blessings in my life, all the reasons I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself. But personally, that doesn’t do me much good when I’ve over analyzed and come up with nothing to “fix” the circumstances I don’t want to accept.
However, when I do as Paul does and realize that even my afflictions have gifts hidden in them, I can find that gratitude and accept what I cannot change with a lot more grace. In fact, I am motivated to plunge deeper into the life I’m given to find those gifts. That is hope, and it has never failed to disappoint.