“Quit trying to figure everything out!” Why do I keep hearing this in my head? I don’t even remember who used to say this to me. A therapist? A teacher? Periodically, this admonition rises to the murky surface of my consciousness. No specific voice. No clue as to the identity of the utterer(s) of this reprimand or why this warning would have been directed at me.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I do know why I have been on the receiving end of such a reproach: I am guilty of continually trying, usually on my own, to sort out a challenge in my life through rumination. I’ll keep churning over and over again in my mind something that is bothering me or perplexing me. More often than not, I gain no deeper understanding or insight, but, rather, am left feeling sluggish and morose.
If I’m in a better state of mind I’ll try to reason my way through a dilemma, utilizing rational thought and employing the input of my senses in an attempt to figure my way out of the maze of misery in which I have found myself. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Other times, I’ll employ platitudes gleaned from pop psychology and the human potential movement to will myself out of a quagmire of despair and hopelessness: “It’s not about you;” “You can’t correct what you’re unwilling to confront;” “It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” I could go on.
I was reminded of my tendency to try to think my way out of emotional pain and suffering while reading Chapter 6 in the book about the prophet Isaiah. I’m always thrilled reading the verses about the Lord being attended to by fabulous winged seraphs and how Isaiah feels lost and ruined before them and then how he is made whole again when a hot coal is taken from the altar and pressed to his mouth and lips. He then feels worthy of being in God’s presence and is able to volunteer to be of service to God. When his offer is accepted he is told what to do:
Go and say to this people: ‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.’ Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed.
In other words: Quit trying to figure everything out!
The Lord tells Isaiah to make the people’s minds dull which means that they can’t use reason to try to sort things out; He tells him to restrict the use of their two main senses, sight and hearing, so they can’t use them to try to work things out either.
By being cut off from their usual way of evaluating a situation, resolving a problem, or untangling a predicament, they’re forced to use their intuition, which is the ability to understand something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning. It’s that gut feeling or that knowing in one’s heart that all of us have experienced at one time or other.
And from where does that come? It comes from the vast well of infinite knowledge that resides within each of us. This source of wisdom can be accessed when we “Let go and let God,” as the adage says. When we surrender to the Greater and quit trying to think our way out of our suffering we allow ancient wisdom to enter our consciousness, thus releasing us from our emotional prisons.
There may not immediately be a plan of action laid out for us or an analytic understanding of what it is we are undergoing, but there will be a deeply felt realization that we are the perfect manifestation of God and that what we are going through will pass, that it is part of a larger process that is leading us closer to the Light, and that the veil of ignorance will be lifted a bit more so that we see a glimmer of our own divinity—that we are made in God’s own image; thus are One with God.
Finally, in the last sentence of the verse, we are told that when we turn from our old ways of doing things—when we turn within—we will be healed. Healed!
Let us all remember this when we’re going through emotional turmoil. All of our trials, our self-doubt, and our suffering are part of a larger healing process, which, if we are able to let go, will lead us to Wholeness.
Questions for Self-Reflection:
- What in your life needs healing? A relationship? A past trauma? Your world-view?
- What are ways in which you make yourself crazy when you try to figure things out?
- When have you trusted your intuition?
- What keeps you from trusting your instincts?
- Have you ever had a feeling that God is trying to help you, guide you, or heal you?
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.
5And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 6Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
9And he said, “Go and say to this people: ‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.’ 10Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed.”