AT TIMES the light derives from realizations that we come to while we are in the darkness. Periods of suffering are not always detours on the journey to enlightenment but can serve as significant stops along the way. Personal demons that emerge from the dark cave of deep sadness cannot just be “treated”; they must be dissolved through the light of selfawareness. Everything that needs to be looked at must be looked at; everything that needs to be understood must be understood; and every prayer that needs to be prayed must be prayed.
And this can take time. A period of emotional suffering is often not simply a symptom of our depression as much as a necessary factor in healing it. It can be what we need to move through, and best not avoid, in journeying to the place where we suffer no more
Sometimes, therefore, we have to make room for our emotional pain. Months of grief might be at times what we need to go through, processing the mysteries of love and loss in order to finally see that in spirit there is no loss and that in God there is always hope. Such mourning is a sacred journey, and it cannot and should not be rushed. If we have forty-five tears to cry, then crying seventeen is not enough. Deep sorrow is a fever of the soul, and within the psyche as within the body, the fever breaks when the fever breaks. The tendency to repair—an inborn immune system always moving in the direction of healing—exists in the mind as well as in the body. We simply need to give it time.
The potential for heartbreak always exists; it is part of the human experience. Where there is love, there is happiness. But where the bonds of love are broken, there is pain. Given the fact that the world is so dominated by fear, and so resistant in many ways to love, how could our hearts not be torn at times by the pain of simply living here?
And once you’ve lived enough, you know this. You come to live with it, and to live with it gracefully. You learn to take the hits, and to know that they’re simply part of living. “Hello darkness, my old friend; I’ve come to talk with you again” is more than a song lyric by Simon and Garfunkel; it describes an attitude of acceptance that this week, or this month, or even this year might be hard—but you know you will live through it. And in some ways, who we become because we lived through it is someone more alive—perhaps even more beautiful—than who we were before. In the words of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, “Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.”
Depression is an emotional fall, sometimes into a very deep, dark valley. That is true. Yet a life of spiritual triumph is not one in which we never fall into that valley; it is one in which, if and when we do fall, we’ve learned how to get ourselves out of it. We need emotional muscles in order to rise up emotionally, just as we need physical muscles in order to rise up physically. And developing those muscles is the work of the soul. It is the search for God and the finding of our true selves.
God is not outside us but within—the Love that is the essence of who we truly are. We live within God and God lives within us. The pain of the world is the unbearable suffering of living outside the circle of our relationship to God, for outside that relationship we are separate from ourselves. What could be more depressing than to live in separation from who we are? And what could be more natural than the fact that we seek wholeness in places where our hearts have been torn? Falling to our knees in pain has been, for many of us, how we first fell to our knees in prayer. At moments when the pain is simply too much to take, the body itself is wired for humility before God.
No matter what problem has entered our lives, no matter what pain has seared our hearts, the one fundamental answer is the attainment of the peace of God. A Course in Miracles teaches that we think we have many different problems, but we only really have one: our separation from God. This book is about the alleviation of our suffering: sometimes through prayer, sometimes through forgiveness, and always through the surrender and release of all our thoughts that are not of God.
Therein lies inner peace.
Marianne will be appearing at the NEWLIFE EXPO in New York City on Sunday, March 19 at 2pm. You will not want to miss this awesome inspiring lecture by this Dynamic Soul.
Reprinted from Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment, by Marianne Williamson with permission from the publisher, HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.,
Copyright ©2016 From Chapter 1: Surrendering Our Sorrow