On Friday I talked about Recasting Your Story and raised the question of whether the retelling of our story helps distance us from its pain and allow us to move on. This is an important question for church-leavers and I had expected a bit more dialogue on the subject… perhaps it’s not a good question for a Friday afternoon, especially based on a metaphor. I would encourage a further review of the post, as it ends with some unanswered questions which are followed by two comments which only raise more questions. For instance, if retelling our story helps remove the pain, does the retelling of hope have a negative effect? Why or why not? Friday’s post included an excerpt from Paulo Coelho‘s book, The Zahir, in which the author says “I try to understand why people are so afraid of changing.” For this discussion, there is another relevant excerpt in the book which I discovered Coelho also talks about on his blog when he mentions the concept of “the accommodating point.” He writes,
According to the magical practices of the witchdoctors in the North of Mexico, there is always an event in our lives that is responsible for our having stopped making progress. A trauma, a particularly bitter defeat, disappointment in love, even a victory that we fail to quite understand, ends up making us act cowardly and incapable of moving ahead. The witchdoctor, trying to connect with the occult powers, first of all needs to get rid of this “accommodating point”. To do so, he has to review our life and discover where this point lies.
Obviously I’m not suggesting that the churchless ought to consider the witch doctor… but the concept he describes has merit regardless of its source. The accommodating point can be a major trauma which halts much of the progress of our life, or it can be much more simple. Coelho:
For two years I tried to learn to play the guitar: I made a lot of progress in the beginning, until I reached the point where I could advance no further. Because I discovered that others learned faster than I did, I felt mediocre and decided that instead of feeling ashamed I was no longer interested in playing the guitar. The same happened with snooker, football, cycling: I learned enough to do everything fairly well, but then reached a point where I could go no further.
Because, according to the story that we were told, at a certain moment in our lives “we reach our limit”. There are no more changes to be made. We won’t grow any more. Both professionally and in love, we have reached the ideal point, and it’s best to leave things as they are. But the truth is that we can always go further. Love more, live more, risk more.
The truth is that we can always grow, always change… but the roadblocks to the next step may lie buried in our past. I left my CLB 3½ years ago, but the “trauma” of the events have lingered to greater and lesser degrees in parts of my life. If I look back on it though, the final “trauma” was just the straw that broke the camel’s back — the accommodating point would have to be some years before that even. The question remains in this post as in Friday’s, but fleshed out a bit more perhaps… in the retelling of our painful stories, do we help uncover the accommodating points which have stopped our spiritual lives? In what contexts should this take place, and how can it be facilitated safely? As for Friday’s question, is it even a necessary or fruitful practice?