Life involves some shocking realities. Most of these occur interpersonally, but some of them are intrapersonal. Recoiling from these events in many aspects of emotion is so commonly normal we can understand it as the stimulus for normal life response.
Normal life response is not about remaining hemmed-in to resentment at the negative things that occur to us, but, it needs to be said, situations of rampant abuse and neglect may interrupt the ability of exercising this normal life response.
Normal life response is more as the heading suggests: as the day-to-day things go wrong and we are initially shocked, and instantly angered, we then reconcile the need to surrender to God the things beyond our control. Upon surrender we open our minds to, and our hearts receive, the capacity to understand. We actually desire understanding. And once understanding has reached the level of the heart, forgiveness, in all manner of varieties, is the next logical step.
This normal life response requires us to be resilient enough to honour this wisdom of God. It is the wisdom of God that leads us to adapt responsibly within our social environments by engaging in this full 5-stage process.
This 5-Stage Process of Response
1. Shock – we will be shocked by all sorts of things. Shock is nothing to be ashamed of. When we can allow ourselves the emotional disposition of shock, without resisting the feelings that come, we are responding as maturely as we can. Shock is a normal human response.
2. Anger – anger is nothing to be ashamed of when it doesn’t hurt other people. It is a normal human response. Again, allowing ourselves the integrity of our anger in response to the shock we are recoiling from is a sign of emotional maturity. This anger is about feeling angry within and validating that we feel this way.
3. Surrender – the vital transaction getting us from a temporary despair felt in momentary anger to the renewing of hope through belief for a better way occurs at surrender. This is a God-moment. The moment of surrender is the moment we commit to turn and change. Surrender is a decision of courageous, ruthless obedience.
4. Understanding – having allowed ourselves the relative emotional luxury of shock and initial anger, without the inhibitions of judgment or shame, and having surrendered, the blocks to understanding are released. When we don’t judge our emotional stock, and we take our emotions as they unfold, understanding prevails with hardly a barrier against it. Likewise, as we look forward we see our personal and interpersonal situations with the preparedness of grace.
5. Forgiveness – this is simply a natural extension of understanding, but it is manifest in action; a decision to offer the gift of grace; a tremendously freeing experience where the anointing of God becomes us for the moment. Forgiveness is the completion of the normal life response loop. If we wish more of a normal life we must honour this wisdom of God’s all the way, and forgive.
Rebounding to life upsets is about experiencing the emotions of shock and anger without judgment or harming others. It’s then about surrendering to God the things beyond our control. This facilitates understanding and augments forgiveness.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.