Sitting with the uncomfortable, offering her a chair, recognizing and validating her existence, and not insisting with strong words and body language that she evict- and now..... has its rewards. The times that she exerts herself with almost vulgar insistance- following me to the bathroom, shadowing me in my workplace, embarrassing me in my social networks, staring at me intently, her arms crossed, and thin-lipped can be aggravating, to say the least. Still, there is little value in rushing the process, and so the chair is offered. Sometimes a cot and meal plan as well.
And somehow, in the very act of embracing that uncomfortable companion, She becomes less the master. She no longer has the ability to threaten to own me and I no longer feel the same urgency for methods to control her. Then, with the absence of urgency, something wonderful happens. She recedes and there is ample room for joy to infuse the spaces. Not on the very day you offered her clemency, but in its own time, when your newly accepted companion of discomfort has absorbed her new role and the defenses have lowered.
Her reappearance is inevitable and yet less feared or defended against. She is the companion who teaches with high expectations, strong demands, and appears intimidating, almost militant in her approach.
But at the end of the day (or the week, the month, or the first forty years...), a certain peace treaty has been signed and honoured. We war less often, but offer one another seats and lend an ear. We may sigh and slump from time to time, or flirt with the habits of picking up self-protective arms and reclaiming our original, rigid boundary lines.
But we remember that even Jesus, who we used to believe stood beside his Father with a large hammer, encouraged us to not run from suffering but to embrace it. Maybe he wasn't the sadist we feared, but maybe he suggested this embrace because he understood the wisdom of what these tight-lipped companions could teach us.