The Miracle of Epiphany
I’ve no doubt faced my fair share of communication impasses. As the life-long “counselor” in my circles, there have been many times where issues appeared to me to be so simple, so basic, so visibly available that I would find myself shaken when the person… who’s problem I was trying to solve, mind you!… couldn’t see it.
With so many differing points of view, it seems that out of frustration various debate tactics get employed. Attempting to try to get the other to come around quickly, one may think hamming the point repeatedly will do the trick. When repetition doesn’t work, it may escalate to shouting. Shouting doesn’t work, so one might descend into condescension or even name calling. All of which ultimately offer no success because ultimately no consensus is achieved. In fact, each side only gets further cemented in one’s own belief.
One of the best pieces of advice I‘ve ever received is “you’ve got to meet people where they are.*” Easier said than done, yes!… and, there’s also another layer.
Beliefs don’t just live on their own, in isolation. They can’t be so easily plucked, removed or changed. This is because their very roots wrap around the roots of other ideas, other belief systems that are feeding and nurturing one another. Over time, experiences, and through external influences, each person has skillfully cultivated her/his own mental garden complete with a complex tapestry of foliage and interwoven root threads of ideas, events, thoughts, and even memories, which all live together in a vast mental space labeled “sacred things.”
Every opposing view, albeit rational or not, helpful or not, is a threat to this sanctified space. Adopting a new belief could require on their part, a vast overhaul or in some instances, a complete gutting of their garden. We are asking that they rework or even surrender a whole host of other connected beliefs that may offer them comfort and peace of mind (even if those very beliefs are destructive). Uprooting these structures, that have gotten their strength from time, theology, familial origins, psychological protection mechanics, etc. can be a much greater task than we’re seeing on the surface.
If you can remember your last epiphany, you might recall how magically and instantly everything fit together. A recipe of perfection had taken shape that allowed the teeth of the gears to finally lace precisely together, cranking open a previously locked door to a whole new world of knowledge and insight. The truth is, more than likely, you’d been introduced to this life-changing information countless times before the epiphany occurred. But, for whatever reason you were unable to see it… that is, until you were ready.
When enough space is given, often times, the root lattice loosens itself. New psychological needs come into play which can sometimes offer a natural unwinding of old systems so new roots can take shape. Resistance fades and the ground is fallow and one becomes ready to grow new and improved ideas.
I see epiphanies a lot like conception. Sure they seem to happen often, but a number of incredible events need to take place in a very meticulous sequence, in order for the awakening to occur. This takes time. Patience is required, because an epiphany is truly a miracle!
(*Thank you, Lynn Washington)