My phone rang at 5:15 pm. “Lauri?!” the voice said coupled with panicked and heavy breathing. “Lauri, it’s your mother,” as though I didn’t recognize her. “Yes, mom, I know,” I reassuringly responded. Little else was said. Punctuated by my mother’s struggle to breathe and her confusion, we engaged briefly. At the end of our brief dialogue, my mother said, “Okay, girlfriend, I will talk to you tomorrow.” “Girlfriend?” – I sat with that thought through the balance of the evening and throughout the night. As I tossed and turned, at four o’clock in the morning, I was hit with eminent – I will lose my best friend.
With whom will I share my deepest thoughts? Our discussions range the gamut – how to starch a crocheted snowflake properly, the secret to a good gravy, the collecting of silver salt spoons, and the writings of Thomas Merton. Yes, I realize I will always have a connection. Quite frankly, as a medium, I converse with the unseen regularly. But I feel there is something very sacred to our grief. For me, sorrow and thanks rub up against each other. I cannot help but be grateful for my relationship with my mother. My sadness earmarks its transition to a different realm.
I trust and respect my mom. Yes, I did give her a run for her money as a teenager and young adult. I did my fair share of jumping out of bedroom windows, riding on the back of motorcycles, surfing during storm surges, dating weirdos, and alternatively dressing that would make any mother roll her eyes. However, I can honestly say that my mother’s relationship with me has profoundly influenced my listening skills and asked the right questions: no lectures or hysterical punishment against me. As I looked back, my mother always treated me as an adult per se.
As I struggle with the unexplored emotional territory, I have also contemplated how we hold space for each other. I have received so many well-intended suggestions from friends, students, and colleagues – from sleeping with rose quartz by my bed, doing the appropriate bodywork, and getting over my “specialty illusion.” None of which have I found useful. However, it has deepened my understanding of what my role is in the healing relationship. So many of us want to do something for someone when they are struggling. All well-meaning intentions aside, the truth is we must let people struggle. We uncover our eternality within our uncertainty and emotional conflict. If we relieved another’s pain, then what? Will they be happy ever after? Or will they be reliant on us to solve all of their spiritual crisis?
I am so thankful that I am now the client, the student, the patient, and the coached. I cannot think of a better way to gain insight into being on the receiving end of counseling. I now know firsthand what it feels like to receive advice like
- “This is all an illusion.”
- “You want a special relationship.”
- “That’s not my experience.”
- “You are burning off karma.”
- “You need to heal your emotional conflict.”
- “I am just hitting you with the truth.”
- “I knew that was going to happen.”
- “I told you so.”
What a beautiful juxtaposition. I am grieving the loss of a person who held sacred space for me. She is a great sounding board. Why? Because she did not try to manipulate me, heal me, over talk me, compete with me, lecture me, or judge me. In her human moments, she caught herself very quickly, apologizing. Not that I need the apology, but recognizing she too was in her development as a healer. I appreciate her struggle to rescue a person she loved so dearly. I equally valued her ability to self-reflect on her behavior. All we can ever do for another is love them, listen to them, and comfort them.
When we look at someone struggling with emotional, physical, or spiritual dilemmas, we must realize that we have been pulled into the fray by our own need to witness our spiritual lessons. Instead of trying “to fix someone” or zapping them with some “truth,” perhaps we must lean in and observe. As we listen, we see ourselves and revisit our faith. We revel in God’s mysteries, knowing that nothing divinely created is meaningless. We may not know why things are happening. Nor do we see the resolution to the internal conflict. However, we must remember our only task remains to be truly helpful.
You can do much on behalf of your own healing and that of others if, in a situation calling for help, you think of it this way:
I am here only to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Him Who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing He goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal.