Love, Like A River……..

There are times when God brings just the right prescription for what ails one.  Today was such a day.  For nearly 10 months I have been trekking through various stages of grief, disappointment, and confusion over a life-long relationship that had taken a turn that left me standing with my hand outstretched asking, “Who is this person???”

I was stuck with a troublesome dilemma of how to respond to behavior so out of character by someone I loved and thought I knew, that I could not even comprehend what had happened and why.  I struggled to grasp the individual’s behavior that was so out of character with all I’d ever known in the relationship.  I attempted to talk to the person, without success in having my feelings being given a hearing.  I sought  the counsel of a close friend in counseling who was familiar with the circumstances and individuals involved.   In the end actions were taken by the individual that violated so much of what I had understood about our relationship  and our respective values that I, in hurt and anger, simply decided that I could not continue in relationship with the individual. I felt forced into that posture by what I perceived to be the individual’s blatant disregard for the feelings of not only me, but several other family members, as well.

I have sought for months to deal with my anger, praying for the willingness to turn loose of it and move on with my life.  Every mention of the circumstances and person would bring a fresh wave of anger bordering on rage at times.  I talked it through with godly people, trying to put it to rest.  I was resigned to, even relieved by. the prospect of shutting this person out of my life altogether.

That is not an easy thing to do when other relationships are impacted by that choice.  Still, I could not envision how a relationship could continue in the face of what I felt as emotional abandonment, disrespect to me and others, and selfishness by the individual to an extent I had never witnessed.

Recently, I became interested in use of aromatic essential oils in healing therapy.  Today I attended a teaching session on using prayer and oils to facilitate emotional release.  We had a lengthy afternoon discussing oils’ benefits in accessing and tapping into emotional memories and bringing them into harmony with one’s rational cognitive mode.  Near the end of the day participants’ names were placed in a bowl and one was drawn to participate in a demonstration of the technique.  As God would have it, mine was the name drawn.  No facts were known by the facilitator about my recent circumstances or my emotional quandary.

As I lay down on the massage table, dressed comfortably in jeans and a knit sleeveless shirt, the facilitator began with an invocational prayer. Then she began the application of several aromatic essential oils to my temples, shoulders, neck, and feet.  She asked a few questions after a several minutes about what was coming to mind.  Interestingly, a particular word, a negative emotion that had not been present in my months of counseling, struggling with “why”, and prayer presented itself to the forefront of my mind.   I began asking myself out loud some questions about that emotion’s name, why it was there, to whom it was related, and what I was to do with it.  Several possibilities presented themselves. The facilitator asked her assistant for a particular oil.  There is a  “key” with the oil literature that ties certain oils to specific body components or functions and specific emotions. The facilitator asked for lemon oil.  After a minute or so of application of this particular oil and she asked the assistant about the chart’s interpretation of lemon oil.  The assistant said, “left behind”.

I felt tears begin to pool in the outside corners of my eyes and trickle down each temple.
Then, quite suddenly, out of what seemed like nowhere, I had a recollection of a moment when I was ten years old and I was given some fresh, hot gingerbread with lemon curd by the individual with whom this conflict had occurred.  The act of receiving such a treat seemed to speak of “love” for me, however,  I recall sitting on the steps of that front porch and eating it alone.  It was the only time I ever remember having home baked gingerbread and lemon curd.  That location was the same porch where I had sat on the steps on another day and ached inside and cried over a disappointing hurt I’d experienced at the hands of the same person.  Somehow the two events seemed connected and I had the sense that my predilection for “comfort eating” had begun with that gingerbread and lemon curd as a ten-year-old, in the same place that the hurt and disappointment had occurred just a matter of weeks or months apart.  The two events, the two emotions, the feeling of aloneness, the hurt and disappointment, of “love” that was expressed with food rather than real understanding, care, and concern for my emotional needs or childhood desires suddenly seemed to reside in the same place in my mind and heart……and perhaps they do….in a real neurological sense.  They occurred in the same place in close proximity in time to one another and may well have been deposited in my emotional memory side by side.  The tears flowed, more realizations occurred and were expressed about my feelings in the current circumstances.  There was absolute silence in the room, no one spoke except me.  Then when I stopped, the facilitator was applying some additional oils…..three different ones, as I recall.  I released several deep sighs and felt drained.  She had me repeat a prayer of surrender after her several times, then placed a final oil in my hand and told me to apply it wherever I wanted.  I rubbed my hands together and hugged myself, rubbing the oil onto my upper arms.  I felt relieved and at peace.  There was no more anger.

Two of the observers helped me sit up and handed me a bottle of chilled water.  They hugged me and we talked a few minutes about the experience.  I felt light hearted and content.  We chatted a few more minutes.  I laughed about some of the recent events. Then everyone hugged again and I left.  I drove home casually, comfortable, more at peace about this situation than I have felt  in nearly a year.  I turned on the radio as I crossed the Deerpoint Dam and this song began playing:

Come To The River  by Rhett Walker

“I’m torn between myself and your truth
These cursed memories, forever seeping through
My thirst for myself left me wanting more
Till I found myself face down on your shore
You say
Come to the river
Oh, and lay yourself down
And let your heart be found
You say come to the river
Drink from the cup I pour
And thirst no more
My restless heart, led me astray
To my selfish pride, I became my own slave
But you placed a thirst in me, with no drink in sight
Cause I could not see, till I saw through your eyes”.
 Thank God, for slaking the thirst in my spirit that had lain there for 50 years.  It had led to feelings of being unworthy of love, of being not worthy of my feelings being heard, of being disrespected or disregarded as a person.  I have fought hard to overcome those feelings of unworthiness and disregard.  It had been a hard won victory in my life to realize I am cherished and beloved by Christ. Being dragged back to that place of emotional pain, ambushed by emotions that were unresolved (even unrealized) in this relationship, has been terribly discomfiting.
I lost all perspective on love for this person because of hurt and disappointment which, when I experienced it in recent months, tapped into something that was very familiar, even though it was deep in my psyche from 50 years ago!  As that 10 year old I could not even understand the mix of emotions and instinctively knew there was nothing I could do about them except comfort myself with food, as the individual was not then, nor has ever been particularly open to discussing feelings….mine or anyone else’s.  Now, as a 60 year old, I exercised a different choice- a very verbal one- but found the same frustration and aloneness in my effort.  Rather than simply console myself with food, I raled in my anger and hurt and vowed to never put myself in a position to be hurt by the person again.
Now I have to find a new way to love.  The old way of loving, feeling connected, and yet ignoring the little hurts along the way, attempting to please and earn love with this individual has not worked for me.  I hadn’t even realized that was what I was doing.  Now that I do, I am challenged to find a way to stay connected and still be separate.
“Love, like a river, will cut a new path whenever it meets an obstacle.”   Crystal Middlemas

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