Wonderful thing about transformation: it’s kind of like birth. You enter a corridor and you have no clue what is at the other end. It’s a re-birthing that happens on numerous developmental levels, with varying degrees of intensity, at many different times in your life. One opportunity to enter that emotional corridor occurred for me during a workshop years ago that was designed to help break through the layers of mortal experience and get in touch with the pure spirit within as created by our Heavenly Father.
The instructor explained about all the layers of experience and pain that are built up around the purity of our spirit as we progress through mortality. She explained that the only way to get connection to that spirit was through our willingness to feel. I was ready to cut through the layers of painful life experiences and get this show on the road!
We were told we were going to be taken on a journey which would be symbolic of our life. How we went through the following experience would be exactly the way we have gone through our life up to this point. We were told that this was to be a totally silent process; we were not to speak. We were then blindfolded. After waiting for several minutes, someone came and took my arm and led me down the stairs and out of the building.
Don’t Let Go
Gradually, I could hear a man softly speaking to someone just ahead of me. Then it was my turn to be led to the place where the voice was. He told me to hold something in my left hand. It was a rope. He said “Don’t let go of this lifeline. Keep moving forward, no matter what! From time to time there may be obstacles in your path. In your other hand, I am going to place a gift. This gift will assist you in your journey. You are to protect it always.” Then he asked me what the gift represented to me. I was already in tears and, thinking of my ability as a musician, I said “My music!” He then placed an egg that represented the gift in my right hand.
I thought back to before I was born when I was going through this same experience with my Heavenly Father. I could hear Him say those same words: “Don’t let go of the lifeline. Keep moving forward. Keep the gift safe.” At this point, I was sure the gift was my music! I knew how much of a comfort and strength my music had been to me all through my life.
I then thought of the story of Lehi’s dream of the tree of life in the Book of Mormon. I was completely clear about the importance of holding onto the “iron rod.” This rope was my lifeline to the tree, and I was going to make sure I didn’t get lost in the mists of darkness, get pulled into a raging river, or be thwarted by any jeering crowd. Yes, sir… I was moving forward and I was going home! Full steam ahead! (And NOBODY was going to get my egg!)
Clutching My Gift
As I stepped out on my journey, I held my egg very close to my heart. At first I held on very tightly to the rope and cautiously reached out with my fingers to make sure it was okay to proceed. Gradually I gained a little confidence and loosened my grip just enough to let the rope slide through my grasp as I moved forward. Then I came to a place where someone was in my way and their hand was holding onto the rope ahead of me. I began pushing ahead. I’d been instructed to move forward — no matter what! After a few moments, someone whispered in my ear, “Wait just a moment.” I waited. Soon the rope was clear and I continued forward.
Then I heard a voice that whispered, “It’s all right to use both hands.” Oh sure, my egg was in my right hand and using it would put my egg at risk! (Nice try!) I finally decided to reach out with just one finger of my right hand, careful to keep the egg safely cradled with the remaining fingers. I was afraid they may have tied several ropes together to trick me! Next a hose was woven back and forth with the rope. Once again I started meticulously tracing the rope through the tangles and I heard a voice whisper, “You’re getting all bogged down in the details. Just move on!” (How this is like my life!)
I moved faster through the next few obstacles and I came to what felt like a tree stump where the rope went under it. I felt around the stump and found a rope coming out the other side. I finally braced myself against the stump and tipped it up on one side and freed the rope and went on.
I eventually came to an obstacle that I just couldn’t figure out. The people behind were pushing against me and this time I put my hand back and pushed gently to indicate for them to just wait a moment. I did this a couple of times and they stopped pushing me. Then someone ahead of me was pulling on my right arm, trying to get me to move along faster. They were pulling me with the hand that was protecting my egg! I was being pushed from behind and pulled from in front. I felt powerless to just be allowed to figure out my puzzle with the rope and have a chance to understand how to proceed.
A Broken Gift
I jerked my arm back (egg and all), lost the rope and just rolled up in a ball and started to cry because I couldn’t figure it out and they were rushing me. I heard a voice whisper, “Consider other possibilities. Stretch and see if you can find another way to move forward.” Taking a risk, with my right hand (which held the egg), I reached out and found the rope. Soon there was another knot in the rope and this time it was tied to a little bitty thin piece of twine. I started to feel a little uneasy because the string was harder to hold onto than the rope had been.
I was still distracted by the experience of being yanked forward when I came to what felt like a picnic table and benches with the string wound around it. I reached forward with my right hand to see where the string went. I misjudged the height of the bench and my egg was knocked out of my hand. I could hear it drop to the ground.
“OH NO!” I thought frantically. “My egg! Where is my egg?!” I burst into tears and desperately began to feel around on the ground for it. Someone placed my hand over the egg and I could tell that it was cracked! Its insides were beginning to drip out through my fingers and slide down my arm. I began to sob hysterically as I cuddled the broken egg to my heart. I curled up in a ball and rocked it back and forth, trying to make it all right again. The emotional earthquake had begun. Every rational thought was missing from my mind. All I felt was PAIN that would not be comforted!
I still held onto the string with my left hand as I rocked back for forth cradling my dying egg, my dying music, my dying gift. I could feel its insides slowly sliding through my fingers and down my arm and I couldn’t stop it!
Keep Moving Forward
I was nearly incoherent when I heard someone whisper “Go on! Go on! Keep moving forward!” With my nose running, my right hand clutching the remains of my gift, I wailed as I went under the bench and the table. I felt the string go up over the bench on the other side and I pulled myself up with my right wrist (I still wouldn’t let go of the disintegrating eggshell). I drug my body up over the bench and dropped, sobbing, to the ground on the other side.
I continued on through other obstacles and just grabbed wherever I could, sobbing, sobbing, sobbing. Clutching my dying gift to my heart, totally oblivious to anything but my grief… My pain… My disappointment… My shame at my inability to protect my gift! But I slowly came to understand that this river of pain was the grieving for my sons whom I had failed to protect from abuse.
I had allowed the fear of being yanked forward distract me from my accountability and I killed my babies! I was so focused on my own selfish fears that I sacrificed them! And I couldn’t get them back. I couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Why was I moving forward? What was I even moving forward toward?
I vaguely remembered when the string was once again knotted back into a rope. I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t even pause when I came to an obstacle, I just stumbled through, clutching whatever rope I could feel! I was indifferent to the journey. All I knew was I’d been told to not let go of the rope. I was to move forward no matter what! Did I have to lose everything on this journey?!
All the pain and grief of a lifetime of shattered hopes and dreams were shed in those next yards of my journey. It seemed like an eternity had passed when I came to the end of the rope. By now I was numb and the sobs had dulled to whimpers that ripped with a shudder through my body. I still had the sticky bits of eggshell tightly clutched in my right hand.
Someone mercifully took the knotted end of the rope out of my hand. I offered no resistance as they put their arm around me and whispered, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” What? What did he say? Well done? Well done? How do you get from self-condemnation to “well done”?
Then the miracle happened. They took my left hand and gently, lovingly placed a brand new egg into my hand and said, “It’s okay, you can let go of the other egg. This new one will be with you always.”
I slowly opened my right hand and let it go. I released the pain. I released the guilt. I released the grief and my body went through a seismic jolt as my awareness gradually surfaced through the pain. My blindfold was removed. I came out of the darkness and into the light. As my eyes became accustomed to the light, I realized for the first time that my entire journey had been witnessed with intense compassion by the rest of the group. I cradled my new egg in both hands and with tears of joy I kept softly saying “I got a new egg. I got a new egg! Look! I get to keep this one. It’s okay… It’s going to be okay.”
Our Emotional Earthquakes
Slowly the eruption of my emotional earthquake began to ebb… And although I expected the aftershocks would be rumbling for some time to come, I knew the wedge had been inserted through the layers of mortal experience, and my spirit was sending me connections about how I had chosen to live my life up to that point. I could now begin to experience the mountain growing out of the rubble.
I was able to see how I had viewed my mortality as an adversarial experience. I fully expected that I would be tricked. That someone, somewhere would try to get me to fail, would try to take my egg away from me. I set up all my survival mechanisms in preparation for the type of journey I chose to create. I had been willing to push past people that I thought were in my way. I allowed others to run over the top of me, but I was finally able to develop a measure of patience waiting for the road to clear up ahead.
I demanded to be allowed to move forward at my own pace and not be yanked. I could see that I had allowed myself to become distracted when I felt yanked ahead faster than I wanted to go. I saw how I chose to risk everything I held most dear — the innocence of my children, my precious babies. I had to bear the unbearable sorrow. I had to find the way to forgive myself for making a mess that I simply couldn’t clean up.
Finally, I understood why emotion was the wedge that would pierce through the layers of mortal experience and get to where the Spirit could teach me. I had to once again become conscious of my divine nature.
I better understand how it will feel when I pass from this mortal experience and am greeted by so many loved ones who have witnessed my journey with compassion. I am so grateful for the kind soul who reached out to help when I couldn’t find my egg. The one who knew that I wouldn’t have the desire to move forward if I didn’t at least know what happened to it. Not knowing would have been so much more devastating for me — to think I left my egg behind, abandoned it, left it alone; to never know if it lived or died. I am so grateful for compassion in that dark hour of my journey. Without it, I may have trudged through the mortal experience without ever getting to the joy.
Perhaps there are times when someone’s good intentions might rob us of the learning in the lesson. I have come to understand that there are other times when our will to go on might be destroyed if not for the compassion of someone who has our highest good in mind. We must rely on the Spirit to let us know when to refrain from interfering with the lesson of another person and when to reach out to minister to one who is “going down for the last time.” We came here to transcend the mortal experience, not to be destroyed by it.
As I reflect on this “mountain” growing out of the earthquake, I am so grateful for the plan of our Heavenly Father. Whenever understanding replaces fear, the light in our lives increases and we move closer to the purpose of our mortal life. I am sure I will be processing this experience and making greater connections for a long time to come. It is with the intention of increasing the light that I share this experience with others. As I ponder the task of gaining wisdom for that which we experience, I see a deeper meaning in the Savior’s words, “My burden is light.”
I anticipate other earthquakes will come into my life as I increase my desire for further light and knowledge. I have come to understand that, as Wendy Ulrich has said, “our learning is more important than our failures.” Each developmental stage helps to build that mountain, helping me remember the perfection of who I really am: a child of God, a beautiful daughter of a King.
Sonja lives with her husband, Dale, on Anderson Island, Washington. She and her husband are Church Service Missionaries serving in the Addiction Recovery Program, focusing on pornography and sex addiction. She is also a certified life coach and teaches "Life Skills for Emotional Self-Mastery" in her stake twice a month. She does not teach you only to process something traumatic done to you in the past; rather, she helps you learn to feel it, heal it, and LET GO of whatever you still do to yourself and to others in order to cope with what was done to you in the past.