84: Already Possessing the Answers

84: Already Possessing the Answers

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

Already Possessing the Answers

We all have within us a deep wisdom, but sometimes we don’t know we have it.

~Shakti Gawain

“No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to keep up,” Julie confessed, and then she began to cry. “I’m exhausted, physically and mentally. Charlie was up most of the night last night. There are piles of laundry all over my house. I haven’t showered in days. And I can’t remember the last time I looked into my kids’ eyes — really looked.” Her voice trailed off as tears streamed down her face.

I passed Julie the box of tissues. I had explained earlier that night, before the retreat’s Faith Sharing segment, that several groups had dubbed the box of tissues the “Talking Stick.” Inevitably, when it came time to share, the tears came, too. Julie had refused the box, saying she wasn’t one to cry. But she accepted the tissues now with gratitude.

This was the fifteenth retreat I had run for mothers of young children. I could count on just one hand the number of moms who hadn’t cried when it was their time to share. Goodness knows, I wasn’t one of them. I don’t cry often, but I’ve cried more in motherhood than in my entire life combined.

Five years before, I had done just that for an entire week. My kids were then eight, six and two. They were typically good kids, and I did an okay job as a mom, but neither applied that week. Their mistakes aligned with my moodiness. It was like the perfect storm. I felt like a complete failure as a mother and as a person. I wanted to run away from my life forever!

That Saturday, all those years ago, my husband saw the desperate state I was in. “Go,” he said. “Just go out, anywhere, for as long as you need. I’ll hold down the fort here.” He didn’t need to say it twice. I grabbed my journal, Bible and car keys, and ran out the door.

I ended up at a retreat center twenty-five minutes from my home. It wasn’t that I had decided to go there; it was more like I was led. I only went inside the building to ask permission to be on the grounds.

Then I spent the rest of my time there wandering around in all of God’s beauty.

I walked the outdoor labyrinth, weaving in and out of the pattern, just like my thoughts. I meandered down the hiking trails, barely noticing the lush trees and plants everywhere. My final destination was the outdoor chapel at the water’s edge. As I sat facing the cross, with Lake Cochichewick as the backdrop, I cried, journaled and prayed. Then I cried, journaled, and prayed some more.

I felt like a pressure cooker whose release valve had finally been opened. For three solid hours, I sat on that bench and let all those feelings of frustration, desperation, confusion, and disappointment pour out of me.

When I walked back to my car, I was shocked to find I felt as light and free as a bird. I couldn’t wait to go back to my life as a mom, despite having literally run from it just hours before.

Driving home, it occurred to me that every mother out there needs what I had just experienced. But motherhood can be so busy; most moms don’t have the time or the energy to plan that getaway. That’s when I realized I wanted to be the one to create that for them. So began my MOSAIC of Faith ministry.

Over time, MOSAIC of Faith has branched out in many different directions. But the evening retreats for mothers are definitely the most empowering branch. The secret to their success is the Faith Sharing.

After I provide the content for the evening, as well as a guided meditation to de-stress the moms, I send them all off to their own rooms to reflect. When they return, we Faith Share: Each mom shares her thoughts and feelings uninterrupted. When do we moms and women ever get to talk uninterrupted?

Women always interrupt each other. We do so usually with the best of intentions: to affirm, to give advice, to share our similar stories as a way to prove we’ve been there and understand. But when we interrupt, we derail the talker in her journey toward discovery.

I truly believe we already possess most of the answers we need deep within ourselves. But life’s busyness and noise drown out those whispers. If and when we are fortunate enough to find some peace and quiet, we’re so beaten down that we lack the self-confidence to believe the answers we hear.

That’s why it’s so important to speak those answers out loud. Talking, uninterrupted, lets us flush out the strong emotions. In doing so, we become more objective; we see things more clearly. Suddenly, everything makes sense. Not only do we see the solutions to our problems, but we see why we had the problems in the first place. Best of all, we recognize and appreciate both the problems and the solutions as necessary aspects of our own journey.

Things were no different for Julie. As she continued to share, uninterrupted, her tears grew fewer, and her vision grew sharper. With no help from us, except for our sincere acceptance and deep listening, Julie stumbled upon idea after idea for how she could approach her daily life differently. With every thought she gave voice to, her voice grew stronger and more self-assured. Soon, the tears in her eyes were replaced with glimmers of hope and confidence.

Later, as we were gathering our things to leave, Julie came over and gave me a hug. As she pulled away, she said, “You know, I really had no idea all those awful emotions were inside of me. I knew I was struggling, but I didn’t know I was struggling that much. Thank you for creating the space for me to figure it all out, face it, and get rid of it. I’m leaving here tonight believing I can really do this mom thing now, and actually be good at it. Thank you for helping me to see that.”

“You’re welcome, Julie,” I said, with all sincerity. “Thanks for digging so deep and trusting me with everything. It was an absolute honor to witness you finding the answers you already possessed deep within.”

~Claire McGarry

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