Earlier in this book, I suggested that you write your memoirs. Even if you don’t sit down to do that, I’m going to suggest that you review your life.
Reading my mother’s memoir was a profound experience, one that touched my heart and brought compassion into it in a way I hadn’t been able to experience from all my family-of-origin work. As a child, I’d shut down when my mother would talk about her experiences. I’d turn off my listening device. It sounded like grumbling and complaining to me. I didn’t want to hear about her pain.
But when I read about her life in story form, I experienced a different response. I was able to read it objectively, not as her daughter or a person feeling guilty because I wished she hadn’t had all the pain she did. I saw how directly her experiences had created and shaped who she was. I saw the desires of her heart. I saw her tragedies, her broken dreams. I saw her heroism, too.
My snippy little reactions—the irritating mother-daughter stuff—vanished in this new light. She was no longer a mother who had issues. She was a human being nobly living her life. Like the rest of us, she had her frailties, her vulnerable areas, and her strong points.
The point here isn’t for you to read about my mother. It’s for you to take a new look at your life and all the experiences you’ve been through, endured, survived, and then transcended. When I wrote my life story, I resisted at first. I hadn’t enjoyed it that much going through it. I didn’t want to relive all those experiences.
But something happened in the actual writing. It was similar to what happened when I read my mother’s account of her life. I began to see myself and what I’d been through differently, in a new, more compassionate light.
Each experience, each decade, each chapter in the book taught me something valuable. From each experience I’d been through, I reclaimed or discovered new insight and power. Maybe much of what I had preferred to forget or turn my back on wasn’t the wasted life I thought it was.
What a beautiful story each one of us has. Whether your experiences ever make it into a book, it’s still your book of life. Are you grateful for each chapter you’ve lived? Are you grateful for each experience you’ve had? Are you grateful for the story you’re living now?
The good news is, the story of our lives hasn’t ended yet.
There’s still more to come.
Touch the experience of being human in all of its sorrow and joy.
Be grateful for the story you’re living now.
God, help me to laugh, cry, love, be aware, and be thankful with all my heart for every moment and each experience that I’ve been given. Thank you for my life.
From the book: More Language of Letting Go
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