Friday, January 21, 2011

Outgrowing Closure

All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insolvable. . . . They can never be solved, but only outgrown.

-Carl Jung


We like resolution, or at least I do, and I'm learning in each moment in this life that I'm not as terminally unique as I like to believe I am.  So, we humans yearn for resolution, for a tidy ending, for closure, for no threads left hanging.  All our questions about a situation are answered, with no moments where we simply have to understand that we will never know what the heck happened.

Oh yes, we like closure, that imaginary event that gives us a feeling of control, that there is no more left to say or do, and the production has come to a glorious and suitable end.  Oh, and did I mention that we feel as if we are in control?

I wonder how much of our desire for resolution is really a desire for control, a desire to fly in the face of that whole, "I am the Lord your God and you shall have no other gods before me," commandment that we violate regularly with the gods of our own egos.  I pull out the altar to the Ego God when I start crawling around in someone else's head to find resolution - assigning psychological issues and insane behaviour to the person whose actions I find distasteful.  In short, when I blame the other as I polish my halo.  

S/He treated me this way because s/he has (and fill in the blank with whatever is issue du jour keeps you in the best light - come on, you all know how to do this.)

But like Jung says, the most important problems in our lives are fundamentally unsolvable.  The most important problems.  The big ones.  The situations we find ourselves in with others that keep repeating themselves.  Systems experts and non-experts alike call these patterns.  We all have them, these patterns, these important problems in our lives, that recur and recur and recur.  

The Ego God whispers seductively to us, "It's that person's problem, not yours.  YOU are just perfect."  And we can believe and go forward.  Until we meet another person with the exact same "problem" and we find ourselves in the exact same situation, just with a brand new cast of characters.  We as individuals, as families, and as groups all experience this. And we can begin the exercise of data-collecting, assigning blame, and solving the unsolvable issues.

Or we can grow.

Sounds easy, right?  

But growth is never easy or particularly fun.  To grow, we must be willing to shed the skin of blame, to have that level of ego ripped from us by the Holy One, and to step into a new place.  Our egos, or personas, are these protective layers to our souls that we develop quite well over years.  They are often very helpful, allowing us to step into roles as needed or handle painful situations of our past with a minimal amount of danger.  They also have a darker side, when we become so invested in our personas that we lose who we truly are, both out good and our bad.  We are buried under so much ego that the core of our Child of God can't move or grow.  The holy child of our souls is bound and tied, and any growth is stifled or malformed while we work very diligently toward closure for all our problems and toward keeping our ego personas in place at the cost of our core selves.

We keep running into the same problems and patterns because, maybe, God keeps offering us a chance to grow.  God keeps hoping maybe, this time, the blame won't work anymore or we'll just finally clue into the pattern and decide the illusions are working anymore and enough is enough.

We might pray, "God's will be done," and mostly mean it, until God says, "Yes!" and gets to work and we realize we forgot to read the fine print.  Now that we have stopped looking outside for blame, stopped forcing the illusion of resolution, and given God a minuscule space in which to work, God starts flaying.  I understand why all of us avoid growth.  We do, initially, because our deep souls know the pain of ego being ripped away so growth can begin.  I saw an image of St. Bartholomew, who was flayed alive before being crucified, his skin sawed away from his body.  Trust me, it's worse in the picture.

That's what holy growth, the deep kind, feels like.  If we can easily release our ego persona to growth, it's not really our ego.  It's the shirt from the 80's that we never wore, anyway, so we'll give that away painlessly.  The Ego God (and we all have more than one, unfortunately) does not release so easily.  She will cling to the soul, and he will wrap around bones and muscles while God is flaying.  There will be tears and pain, and we might not think we will live.  And, oh, others will mock us and tell us we are wrong for enduring this and we should just cheer up or engage in whatever quick fix would make them feel better, like those who watched Bartholomew be flayed.  

But, miraculously, we live and grow.  We look at the new skin that appears and see ourselves and the world in a new way.  The Child of God within us stretches and takes up more space within us than we have previously allowed.  We probably even feel out of control and recognize its holy freedom.

In this new place, we celebrate rebirth, recreation, and renewal.

And eat cupcakes.

  


  

5 comments:

jevcat said...

Feeling a bit flayed, myself, right now, so thanks for ending with cupcakes. Although my personal drug of choice is good ice cream ...

Chris said...

thank you.

madgebaby said...

good stuff--very on target.

Mary DY said...

I know that my own best growth has happened when someone really confronted me in a way that ripped through my assumptions about who I am. Thank you for sharing so eloquently.

Tom said...

Wow! This sets me to thinking.