I’m rather proud that I’m getting an early start on my lengthy one mile commute to the office.
Briefcase packed, cell phone in my purse, jacket on – I’m ready to go.
Except I can’t find my keys.
I usually put them on a coat rack just inside the door. They’re not there. They didn’t fall to the floor beneath the rack. I check my pants pockets. I paw through the dirty clothes to check the pockets of the clothes I was wearing the previous night.
I check the kitchen counters. The dresser in the bedroom. I check in every room of the house and then I do it all over again. No keys.
By now it’s time for my first client who, thankfully, is running behind herself.
As I try to figure out the mystery of the missing keys (thank you, Nancy Drew) my hand brushes against the vest I’m wearing. It’s a cute vest, and being as it’s from Eddie Bauer, it has lots of pockets.
One of which holds my keys.
I still beat my client to the office and all is well.
Later I thought about what a great life parable that was. We search high and low for something while in reality, it’s been with us all along.
We read a hundred self help books. We talk endlessly with friends and family and coaches and therapists, all in a quest to find that missing something.
Direction. Peace. Hope.
The great family therapist Virginia Satir was completely flummoxed after World War II. She began seeing people who’d survived Hitler’s camps. She was overwhelmed by their stories and felt completely helpless to help them. She thought about it and meditated on it and even prayed about it.
What could she offer to them?
One day she realized that she’d gotten it all wrong. She felt helpless in helping the victims of those camps but in truth, they were survivors. If they didn’t have some kernel of strength inside they wouldn’t have made it through, much less making it to her office.
Her job was to help them reconnect to that strength. Her job was to reconnect them with what they already had inside but had just forgotten.
(If there is a single story that guides my work as a therapist, it’s this one. If you’re able to make an appointment and make it into my office, you have more strength inside you than you know)
We run hither and yon looking for answers but never take the time to stop, be still and listen to our own voice of wisdom. We’ve gotten disconnected from that voice through the years, or maybe we never had a chance to connect in the first place.
If you want to start listening, journaling is a great way to start. Ask that wisdom to write a letter to you, and see what it says.
You may need someone else to help you listen, whether a wise friend or good therapist. We learn early on to discount our own wisdom so it helps to have someone who can provide a different perspective. Or tell us if we really are full of it.
What keys have you tucked away in your pocket?
Need some inspiration for your reflection? I’ve just launched a Kindle version of my devotional book, Strugglers, Stragglers and seekers: daily devotions for the rest of us.
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