Comforting Words: It's Only For Awhile

Sunday, April 10, 2005

It's Only For Awhile

Remember my writing that “some words give me trouble” and that one of those words was “Responsibility?”

Another problem word for me is “Surrender.”

Well-meaning people keep telling me to surrender to life or to God or to something when I express concern, anxiety and feelings of depression. Honestly, often times I really do not understand what they mean by “surrender,” especially when the valley seems long and dark.

It has been a couple weeks since I have shared with you, time that has been spent in valleys – either that of a friend or my own. One thought that took me through, one that I would like to share with you is that It’s Only for Awhile, through the Words from Scripture, Words of Comfort and Words from the Heart.

These words are not from any Bible or religious text, but taken from a book which I have long held sacred – The Tao of Leadership by John Heider

The Paradox of Letting Go

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.

These are feminine or Yin paradoxes:
 By yielding, I endure.
 The empty space is filled
 When I give of myself, I become more.
 When I feel most destroyed, I am about to grow.
 When I desire nothing, a great deal comes to me.

When the telephone rang one afternoon in March while I was working on a paper due in two days, I almost did not answer. After I hung up and looked at the books strewn across the room, I thought, “You should have surrendered to that feeling not to answer.”

The voice on the other end of the line said, “Claudette, I need to talk.” I closed the book and told the dear woman-friend of mine to come over for herbal tea. Yes, this was the same woman-friend who dragged me to the organic food restaurant a week or so before. Although I really needed to finish the paper, she came over and we talked for a couple of hours.

Had I known she was about to open a can of worms for me, maybe I would have told her I was too busy. Truth is I was valiantly attempting to ignore the fact that my well-organized world was a bit shaky. I simply did not have the time to deal with anything other than assignments.

There were signs though that my attempt was to be in vain. A week or so before that telephone call, someone asked me why I host this blog. My response was it is my public confession, a sort of coming out medium for me, one that is in black and white (sort of) and therefore my process could not be denied. Here is a place where, for the year 2005, all that I am will be exposed, the good and the ugly of me will be held up to public scrutiny and accountability.

I also like to think that my doing this serves a higher purpose, that maybe the things that I write mirrors the story of others who prefer to remain anonymous. However, almost a month now, I have not been able to post any article. I am thankful for the emails and questions that I received from a few faithful readers asking whether everything is okay.

Life happens and you sometimes have to step back and when it gets all confusing, you have to retreat and figure out what next. My life took that turn in March, through my friend’s story of hurt, confusion and needing to surrender. As I listened to her story and as we cried together, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach as I raised my eyes and looked in to the mirror she was holding up to me.

The issue at hand was how to know when to call something quits. How do we surrender to life and let go of our plans and be flexible enough to alter our dreams as the canopy of our life shatters?

Letting go is hard. There are many motivational speakers, songwriters and poets who give the impression that letting go or surrendering your dreams and passions is easy. It is not. Personally, I prefer those love songs in which the artist bellows out the pain and anguish of love lost. Those sound and feel real to me, not some speaker telling me to close my eyes and recite some words and surrender to “nothingness” and all is well almost instantly.

There are few things, at least for me, to which surrender is easy. Those friends of mine who have the same size waistline know that it is easy to surrender to a bar or two of chocolate. Better, if you have a bucket of Neapolitan ice cream, trail mix or a plate of fried chicken and rice and peas to go with it. It is also easy to surrender to the feeling that lures you to bed, to curl up in a darkened room, cover your head and remain there for days on end. Nor do I have a problem surrendering to a good cry in my pillow at night.

Ask me to surrender or to let go of what I think I am; what I have or the plans that I have made for my life is another story. That is real agony. On that March day, as the tears fell into her herbal tea, my friend and I discussed what her life has been thus far. We talked about the possessions, money and how others would or would not be impacted by her decisions.

After she left, not able to return to my desk, I sat at my kitchen table and looked out at the snow that had started to melt and realized that our lives run the same cycle as nature. In our summers we live our best moments, in our autumns those moments begin to change colour, in winter they turn cold and we worry about what will be uncovered in spring when the snow melts.

It is now spring in Edmonton, and the grass on my lawn is beginning to turn green. The winter is over and so too are my own tears and confusion about its coldness. One day at a time, one word at a time, another woman-friend advised me is the pace. However, I find that one moment at a time is what I can manage in my process of learning to embrace and surrender to the mystery that life is. Speaking, writing and living my truth is a large part of that embrace.

As for my friend who in March, possibly unknowingly, helped me to become the more that I am – I say thank you. My dear, and all you other dears whose winter may still be raging, remember it is only for awhile more.


Only For a While
Sung by Anita Baker
Lyrics: Dawn Thomas

For a little while
We know what heartache is
And we feel the pain the world can sometimes bring
For a while
We cry in the night
Without a single song to sing
But one day all will change
There’ll be no more stormy rain
Then at last we will rest forevermore

So if you’re in the valley
And life is so unkind
And, if the tears keep falling
From your tired eyes
If burdens seem so heavy
And it’s hard to smile
Then just remember
It’s only for a while

For a little while
You lose someone you love
And miss the times together that you shared
For a little while
You feel all alone and scared
With no one there to hold
Oh, the nights get long and cold
But it won’t last
It will pass in time

Blessings, until next week.


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