Like so many other people, I’m going through a divorce, and the process has really been slow-going. The other day, I went to the Family Court office to pick up some papers and sat next to a lady who was in obvious distress.
Her stomach growled and she said, “Oh! Excuse me.”
I told her not to worry; “It happens to all of us.”
“Especially to moms,” she nodded.
And she paused, leaned toward me and added, “Especially to worried moms.”
Normally, my modus operandi is to encourage people and listen to their stories, but I had a recent realization that there are some things better left in the past. Sometimes you can’t move ahead until you release the baggage holding you back.
My usual response to this woman telling me she was a worried mom would have been to say, “Oh, dear. Are you worried? Tell me what happened.”
My new approach was dramatically different. “Oh, dear. Are you worried? Don’t worry; it will all work out.”
She looked at me sharply, almost annoyed, responding with a disbelieving, “mm-hmm,” as if to say, no it won’t.
Up until recently, I’d let people tell me their troubles, thinking it might be cathartic for them. As it turns out, when we commiserate with others, it actually prolongs and perpetuates problems. It doesn’t help to tell everyone you meet a long list of your cares and woes.
Luckily, I got a leg cramp and had to walk it off, and strategically stepped away from this lady, but I overheard her talking to the woman on the other side of her. There was a very long and sad story with graphic details. They talked intensely for twenty minutes and even exchanged phone numbers and emails. In a way, they’d made a pinky-pact of sorts, to sit together and pick at soul-scabs until they bled again.
I was so glad I had stuck to my policy: I don’t commiserate anymore. I’ll co-joy with you any day, but I won’t willingly co-sign your agreement to marinate in misery.
It took me years to learn this lesson, but now I know it in my bones. The only way to solve a problem is to do everything that you know will help and then release it, completely entrusting it to God. Traveling light and partnering with Providence is the only way to go.