Faith,  feature,  Love,  Self-Reflection

This Wisdom that Arrived Upon My Heart: Coping is Prison, Feeling is Freedom

You never know what freedom feels like until you escape the walls that have kept you in bondage for so long. I write this not from a place of piety as if I have life figured out but as a journey of liberation I am currently walking during what is arguably the greatest tribulation of my life. That statement alone should let you know the gravity of the situation I am facing at this moment given the copious traumas I’ve experienced in my life dating back to when I was seven years old.

But today is not a moment to reflect in sorrow but to revel in the redemption I found in the midst of the storm. The exact nature of the difficulties I am facing I have given to God because there are some battles that must be faced in private for public victory leads to a loss for all parties involved. Yet, despite the tsunami of adversities that have come into my life, I have found an inner peace that has eluded me ever since I moved to America in 1982 and left my childhood joys in Ethiopia.

Equilibrium disturbed by taunts from peers in my formative years only magnified when I became an adult as my mom’s struggles and my dad’s untimely death deeply wounded me in ways I refused to acknowledge. Instead of feeling the agonies and releasing my lamentation through tears, I stuffed my emotions inside and detached myself from the strife that was roiling in my soul. Pains that could have dissipated over time grew from a mustard seed into Mount Kilimanjaro as I sought external distractions to soothe my internal suffering.

I did not have the wisdom to understand just how deleterious my actions were, I thought my “unselfishness” and “giving” nature were virtues that should be duplicated by all. Instead of following the teachings of Iyesus who beseeched us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, I was eager to love others while devaluing myself. It never failed, I would give, give and give to many only to end up flat on my back shocked that people I helped would pay me back with unrepentant malice.

Like David Banner going from town to town getting beat up only to turn into the Hulk, I too went person to person giving of myself only to wind up depleted and replete with sorrows once the people I gave to eventually ended up taking my joys. On my 47th birthday, I finally realized that my greatest detractor was not the hundreds of people I helped over the years but the one person whom I refused to heal—myself. Life is poetic in this way, whatever lessons we refuse to learn will keep showing up at our doors until we finally accept God’s grace or end up bitter and disgraced on our own.

Here are the lessons I have learned over the past two months, coping is prison while feeling is freedom. This is a hard concept to grasp for all but especially for men, we are conditioned by life to not express our emotions and to seek the gratification of flesh in order to overcome our hurts. When women go through a breakup, they get together in a circle and cry it out. We end up either withdrawing and withering or surrounding ourselves with other broken souls who either encourage us to dive into temptation or offer up their bodies as sin’s playground.

I used to judge men who have many children with many women as the epitome of worthlessness but now I know better than to assign blame without walking in their shoes. Maybe what I judged to be deviant acts were nothing more than deeply wounded men caught up in a cycle of heartbreak as they keep seeking love in the arms of other broken souls only to multiply their woes and procreate collateral damage in the process. Sans children and ex-wives, I too was caught up in this unvirtuous cycle of unrequited love leading to unabashed dramas.

Determined to heal from past pains in order to obtain my full potential for myself, my son, my loved ones and society writ large—in that order—I have made it my purpose to stop coping and instead feel it all. When I finally started to face myself, I realized judgment from others did not matter anymore. Some will condemn me if I healed cancer while others will think the world of me if I was the second coming of Pol Pot, such is the ways of this broken world. What matters is doing what I feel is right by God and what I think about myself.

The road ahead is long and strewn with many obstacles, I know there will be setbacks as I make progress towards my healing journey. But I’ve learned to finally be compassionate with myself, I will not try to be perfect because I know that I am loved by God as imperfect as I am. If this new outlook on life drives out many who wanted me as long as I was being a doormat to them, so be it for my circle of trust going forward will not be as wide as the Sahara dessert but as narrow as the gate to heaven. Friendly to all but friendship to those who earn it is my new motto.

I write this article from a beautiful café in Narragansett, Rhode Island called Cool Beans after going on a two-mile walk on the beach. After spending the past two months sitting with my pains and reflecting on how I ended up reserving a room in Heartbreak Hotel yet again, I decided to go on a guzo (journey) north to seek the healing that comes with being one with nature. There is a time to be still to know His name but there are times to shake the dust off our shoes and travel when the devil comes knocking at our door.

Life is one big journey of healing where we travel the same paths until we finally arrive upon the wisdom to do better, such is the #Guzo2Healing Click To Tweet

Over the coming weeks and months, there are huge life events that I must endure, when it comes to these obstacles I will do my part and give the rest to God. There are other decisions that must make that involve purpose and passion but even that will be resolved overtime because our audacious hopes cannot be obtained if we don’t first have the bravery of facing and overcoming our greatest pains. The grandest of our expectations is the least of God’s plans for us once we realize our self-worth.

My sister Rahel once told me that life only makes sense in reverse and my other sister Mariam advised me to never betray myself for the sake of pleasing others. Aeschylus once said “pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” He had it half right, pain does give us wisdom but there is nothing awful about God’s grace because His love is unending, we only realize that truth once we stop coping and instead allow ourselves to feel His mercy::

“When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” ~ Isaiah 43:2 

Be With Me