Do you have stuff in your life that is unresolved?
How often do you not sleep well because you’ve got something on your mind? Me: pretty often. Toss and turn. Toss and turn. At least a couple times a week.
My husband thinks I’m an insomniac but the truth of the matter is if I didn’t spend enough time in the day sitting with what has happened, my brain won’t turn off.
All of our minds are funny like that. They must churn. They must seek answers. They must find resolution.
But to this problem, I want to offer a word that can bring clarity to our minds: unresolved.
Unresolved defined as what is not settled or brought to resolution.
A couple of years ago a friend gave me a card a quote from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
(If you don’t know anything about this author or one of my one of my FAVORITE books of all times, of all times, Letters to a Young Poet, go right now and google it)
“I beg you . . . to pay attention with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions as if they were locked room or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
I’ve thrown away a lot of things lately but haven’t this card. I treasure it so because it reminds me that unresolved feelings, experiences or ambitions are just a part of the journey.
I was having coffee with a friend recently and our collective list of unresolved was long. I’m sure you’ve been there too.
Would we have more children?
When would my friend get a new job?
How would a family member stop an addictive behavior?
Who would help my friend’s son get through a learning challenge?
Would I finally get a date night this weekend? (Oh, how I need a babysitter but couldn’t find one!)
Questions, questions and more questions!
From the list of large to small, important to not as important our lists were long.
But with every question we offered the conversation, we’d just shrug our shoulders and look at each other and say, “Well, life, right?”
And it’s true, I believe.
Unresolved pieces in our lives are gifts, not problems to solve.
One of my favorite TV journalists is Diane Sawyer. Not only does Sawyer inspire me as a female trailblazer being the first female reporter on 60 minutes in 1984 and the first females to anchor the evening news at ABC– but how she leads with curiosity.
She’s shared over numerous platforms that curiosity is what she thinks makes her good at her job and a better human being.
Consider this quote from an Sawyer interview:
“I read once, which I loved so much, that this great physicist who won a Nobel Prize said that every day when he got home, his dad asked him not what he learned in school but his dad said, ‘Did you ask any great questions today?’ And I always thought, what a beautiful way to educate kids that we’re excited by their questions, not by our answers and whether they can repeat our answers.”
See, questions without answers don’t really have to be bad. (And what great parenting advice too!)
So here’s my question for you– what are you curious about in your own life?
How can you move from being defeated about how you might not be where you want to be, to curious about where you are and why?
Because like Rilke said, unresolved things are in fact like locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. But what we do have are the questions themselves.
Consider this: maybe you didn’t get your dream job but your longing for meaningful work can lead you to a beautiful new vocational start.
Maybe you didn’t get pregnant when you wanted, but the desire to parent can lead you to your child in exactly the place meant for you.
Maybe your doctor gave you bad news this week, but your desire to be well can lead you to more than just a cure, but true healing.
So, here’s what I want you to do:
- Make a List. Make a list of all of your unresolved things. And then, lean into Rilke’s advice.
- Sit with the questions. (I.e. don’t start trying to fix). And see what happens.
And I believe “gradually, without even noticing it, you’ll live your way into the answer.”
Maybe not right away. But in due time all will be well.
A Personal Word
On the inside of this card, my friend added this message: “Someday, an answer. Waiting with you.” I treasure these words and the care of my friend who sent me the card.
And though there were SO MANY terrible things going on in my life then, I look back on that season of my life now and smile.
For it was true. There was NO WAY I could have found my way to the answers of my many questions by forcing it.
I needed to live more.
There were more tears to cry.
More wisdom from dear ones needed to seep into me.
I needed the time to be opened up so I could see the deeper things.
Sadly, I needed to do deeper soul work. (Of course who wants to do that when you’re already in so much pain?)
Yet it was EXACTLY what I needed to do.
Bottom line: the unanswered, the unresolved, the unknown questions in your life can’t be rushed.
They have a pace of their own.
The best we can do, I think, at least as I’ve found in my story, is to name what is bothering us.
Say, “It’s ok if I don’t know what this means right now.”
And keep living.