It’s been a rough couple months for me and my husband.
That’s why I wasn’t terribly excited to go to the family reunion this weekend. I didn’t really know how to respond to the typical, “Hi, how are you?”
I knew I couldn’t honestly reply with the equally typical, “Good. You?”
You see, on the surface, I seem fine. I can smile. I can laugh. I can hold decent conversations.
But one layer down, I’m not good.
I’m sad. I’m scared. I’m overwhelmed. I’m a whole bunch of things.
As I looked around at the large Sanders family at the gathering on the weekend, I could see a lot of “good” people. Smiling, laughing, holding decent conversations. On the surface, they all seemed “good”.
But I can guarantee that one layer down, many of them - if not all of them - also weren’t “good”.
I am sure that there was grief, fear, anger, resentment, uncertainty, hurt, sadness, anxiety, and all sorts of other emotions under those smiling faces.
I believe that everyone has those two layers. The surface layer that looks good, and the next layer down that hurts.
It was in talking to two of my cousins that I understood more about these layers.
The first cousin that I opened up to about what was going on in my life hugged me, affirmed that life can be hard, and told me it was going to be ok.
She said all the right things, but I felt something off. I couldn’t put my finger on it.
The second cousin that I opened up to hugged me, affirmed that life is hard, looked right into my eyes with her piercing blue ones and said with absolute certainty, “It’ll be ok.”
That one hit home.
The two cousins said and did basically the same thing. What made them so different?
I can’t say for sure, but here’s my theory.
The first cousin saw that I was in the hurting layer. She recognized it, saw that it was painful, empathized with the pain, and wanted to help. She then tried to move me up back to the surface layer, where everything seems ok.
The second cousin also saw that I was in the hurting layer. She also empathized. But rather than trying to move me back up to a surface layer where everything SEEMS ok, she moved me deeper, to a third layer - where everything IS ok.
This third, deeper layer is hidden beneath the hurt layer; it’s richer, deeper, quieter, stiller, larger, and truer. It is filled with serenity, courage, peace, real faith - not the lip-service-kind-of-faith.
It is by moving to the third layer that true healing takes place. False healing guides you to return to the surface. True healing guides you deeper.
The way to access the third layer isn’t by avoiding the hurt and returning to the surface; it is by accepting the hurt, moving through it, and using the heart as a gateway to the expansiveness of the third layer.
I imagine that moving through the hurting layer feels like being squeezed through a canal. It’s uncomfortable to lean into the hurt, to be squeezed by it. The temptation is to return to the surface, to where you seem fine.
But to heal, we have to go through the layer of hurt. We don’t have to shy away from it, try to fix it, or arm-wrestle it. We just have to bring that hurt to the heart. And then we’ll feel the door open, some hidden door in our heart will open to the third, deeper, healing layer.
It’s quiet there; not such a whirlwind. It’s big; it feels like stepping into the great outdoors with no boundaries or walls. It’s filled with quiet peace, rich comfort, and absolute certainty that all will be well.
Most of us spend the vast majority of our lives back and forth, back and forth, in the surface and hurting layers. Most of us never even know about that healing layer.
But all of us have the healing layer. All of us can go there through the heart. We can spend more and more time there, and the layer can grow and grow, until it heals the hurt and reaches the surface.
Which layer are you in right now, in this very moment? The surface, hurting, or healing layer?
Can you spot which layer your loved ones are in?
Can you feel the squeeze of hurt, then bring your hurt to your heart? Can you go through the gateway of your heart to the healing layer?
How can you help others find the healing layer?
P.S. We talk about coping with stress and conquering stress. The way I see it, coping with stress involves bouncing off the hurt layer back to the surface. Conquering stress involves moving through the hurt, to the healing layer. If you’re interested in conquering stress in this way, our services are there for you. Learn more, here.
Here’s to Conquering Stress,
The Stress Experts
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