In part one of this series, we examined the meanings of the first 2 of 29 questions (that you’ve hopefully answered) which are designed to reveal the pattern of how you live your life when you’re living it by the ways of the world – the ways that separate you from God. Let’s continue…
3. What causes you sadness?
First, let’s take a look at what sadness is. It is a normal emotion, usually preceded by loss. We grieve over the loss of a favorite thing, a pet, or a loved one – dealt to us by death, absence, or abandonment. Life always changes, as do the players and playthings we share our life with. It is the natural progression of things.
‘Being sad’ is what we do when we contemplate how that loss affects us. It’s how we’re wired. It’s natural to grieve and then to get over it. You can bring your sadness to your meditation, praying to God first for insight. You will see that sadness is a way your heart tells you that you have a hurt, which needs to be healed. When you recognize the hurt, you can ask Jesus for the healing.
Conversely, if you dwell on and cling to your sadness, that feeling morphs into ‘suffering,’ and your life begins to bleed out of you. But suffering is only based upon opinions that you have and continue to hold onto. The only way to get suffering out of your world is to get it out of you.
So, if you’ve already taken on suffering as a way to be, you can free yourself by returning to your meditation (with Christ as your ally) and see how it is that you do suffering. Look at what heavy meanings you’ve attached to your sadness. Ask yourself if there is any validity to those meanings (usually not), and let them go. Sadness is only an emotion – a burst of energy with a physical sensation attached. Any other meaning you’ve attached to your sadness is meaning-less.
What if you just acknowledged your sadness and chose not to make yourself, others, or the world wrong because you feel that way?
If there were a little child standing in front of you who was feeling sad, wouldn’t you be led to comfort him or her? How about you comfort yourself? You can do that while you are meditating about your sadness by acknowledging that this is one of those moments where you need to give yourself more love and compassion. (When you do this, you more readily connect with Christ’s love and compassion, because love becomes more recognizable.)
Ask yourself, ‘Why am I sad?’ Look at all of the reasons you’ve lain at the root of your sadness and question their truthfulness. Ask Jesus to reveal anything else that you are suppressing or denying so that you can scrutinize those as well.
Here are some common roots of sadness:
a. I lost my car, dog, spouse, child, etc. – regardless of the reason why:
It’s okay to be sad over these reasons, but we must grieve and then move on. Life is all about change, so there will always be loss. But think about this: in most cases, it’s not a certain thing or person who brings you joy, it’s the change in the state of your heart when they are in your presence. Your spiritual heart makes a joy-filled imprint of that state, so that you can reach inside and touch that joy at any time. So in reality, nothing ever leaves you. Keep in mind that any illusion that you are separate from others is the most common root of suffering.
Coming out of sadness is accomplished by reframing your thinking, by tapping into your heart more than your head. It’s about changing your focus from ‘They’re gone from my life forever!’ to one of ‘I’ve been so blessed to have had them in my life and to be able to hold onto the treasures they’ve left behind in my heart forever.’
b. I’ve done horrible things. I’m a horrible person.
Maybe you have done horrible things, but who you are is still perfect. You were preoccupied with an illusion of what you thought you had to engage in, to survive life. Everyone has committed transgressions that they wish they had not. Ask God to forgive you; He promises that He will. (2 Chr. 7:14). Therefore, you have His permission (and His mandate to you) to forgive yourself.
God only asks us to do the things that exhort others and ourselves. What we also need to do is to stay alert for the moments when it is necessary to make ‘course corrections’ when we slip back into the world. As we do that, we can again pray for insight, go to meditation and examine our ways, and root out the unworkable ones. The thing we do not want to do is beat ourselves up. We sally forth and do our best without worrying about whether or not it’s perfect.
c. I had a horrible past. (To be examined in question #4.)
When you suffer, acknowledge that you’re holding onto something. Question why that it is, and ask yourself if that’s a wise thing to do. (Not!) Then, let that something go. Keep applying unconditional love and compassion to yourself and your suffering will be replaced with joy. Go and do the same for others. Nothing helps you get rid of your suffering more effectively than helping others get rid of theirs.
A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken. Pr. 15:13 AMP
4. What is Your Life Story?
Meditate on every sentence you have written in your Discovery Journal. Ask God to show you what is real. Have you embellished your past? Replace it with the truth. Realize that your Life Story was co-authored by you and that voice in your head. No one on this planet will have the exact same viewpoint as you, so it’s pointless to defend it.
Upon deep examination, you’ll see your story as a plethora of unexamined beliefs, judgments and opinions that you’ve attached to the events in your life. Out of that, you’ve made some people larger-than-life and gave them power over you that they did not have. You’ve also brought judgment against yourself for what you did or didn’t do. You changed the way you live your life to protect yourself from what you thought your past taught you.
More than likely, you’ve also surrounded yourself with people who have similar sufferings, so that you can validate and keep your Life Story alive. It’s that story that keeps you sad, because you continually relive your regrets in your head. Thus, your present time is just an extension of that same false past.
It doesn’t matter if your past was truly horrific or if you made it mean something horrific. The outcome is the same. Even though your Life Story is riddled with lies, it is where you turn for guidance.
What needs to happen is to not live out that story any longer. That can only be done if you stay in the present moment and set aside what it is you think you know. Begin by refusing to worry about the future. Other than asking God to help you prudently plan the direction you’d like to see your life go, forget about the future. It’s not in the present; therefore, it’s not real.
When we find our minds churning over thoughts of what might happen, (99% of them never do) we can look in meditation at why these anxious thoughts are present and let them go. That way we stay open to whatever we experience, seeing how that feels, and let the meanings we’ve given to it go. Experiencing our experiences teaches us compassion for others – knowing they too have suffered for having had theirs.
There is no problem ‘out there.’ There is only life. There is nothing or no one that needs to change in order for you to have the life that you want.
Happiness is an inside job. Again, practice giving love and compassion to yourself – especially when you find yourself slipping back into your story. At that recognition, (without judgment) return to the present moment. Be patient with yourself.
In the present moment, you have the power to choose the actions that lead to a perfect life for your perfect (Christ-forgiven) self. Leave written reminders everywhere to stay awake in the present. Let go of your expectations and be open to surprise.
Practice accepting life as God put it out there. Sit still with it, instead of trying to run away from it. Life is change. When you stop resisting that, you’ll find yourself more and more in the present.
Give up any semblance of control over life and its inhabitants. God is the only One in control, thankfully, because He only has your highest and best interests in mind. The only thing that blocks His efforts is your faith in your Life Story – your faith in the lies that you tell yourself.
…he who breathes out lies shall perish. Pr. 19:9 ESV
Give up that Life Story and live.
That story is always present when you are experiencing negativity about anything. It means you’ve dropped out of the present moment. Stop whatever you’re doing and return to the breath…
Peeling the layers away. It’s a good thing. Stay tuned…
Good night and God bless.