Monday, March 10th – The Second Monday in Lent
“No, woman, no cry… Everything’s gonna be alright.” Bob Marley
Margaux sat on my office couch quietly weeping as she said: “Nobody can tell me that everything is going to be alright.” She had gone to her parents, professors, and her mentors for reassurance. She had consulted Buddhist websites and explored Nietzsche for a nanosecond. She was referred to me for assessment of suicidal ideation. I quickly referred her to Bob Marley. That wise man had told us, in no uncertain terms, that everything is going to be alright.
We live in a world of predictable unpredictability. We know, in general, how our days will unfold. We have schedules to keep and agreements we hold sacrosanct. Into each day some unexpected thing occurs. Sometimes that unexpected thing is an annoying event. Other times, it is devastating and our lives are changed irrevocably. It is human nature to rigidly hold to Knowing how things Should Be. It is human nature to cling to what was. We do what we can to build predictability into our lives. The alternative is overwhelming to us and we fear losing our status, our place in the world, our anchors, our lives, our minds.
I can tell Margaux that Everything is, indeed, going to be alright. In fact, I can promise it. Everything is going to be alright…she just may need to shift her definition of what “alright” means.
Our faith tradition asks us to risk dying into Life. It asks us to allow the transformation from what was to what is, trusting that all is as it should be. Transition from what Was to what Is can be a desperately uncomfortable time. It is human nature to backpeddle, attempting to stop the change or to negotiate desperately for a specific outcome. When we hold to an understanding of how things should be we close down the spaces in which our God can move and create with and for us. Life is dynamic, changing every moment that we live it, even when we are able to keep to our schedules and loved ones give us what we need and want. God is dynamic, in just this way, creating, giving, presiding in everything about us.
When facing hardship and fearing a specific outcome I shift the words of psalm 23 just a little bit: “Yea though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I need not buy and decorate a condominium there.” Our task is to Walk On. This is not the new normal. Things will shift. This too shall pass. Everything’s gonna be alright.
Where is God in this? What is my current definition of alright? Am I willing to be surprised by God?
Melissa Perrin, Area psychologist and Episcopalian