The Power of the Meaning-Maker

A friend asked me an interesting question the other day, and I thought I’d share…

A rather lengthy story, but WORTH the read….

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a dear friend.  We have a practice of checking in with one another every 2 weeks, to share “happenings” in our lives.  After I share, my friend gets the opportunity to share feedback with me. What themes does she hear in my sharing? What growth opportunities for me does she hear? What insights does she have for me from what I said? What acknowledgements does she want to share with me? And after she shares, I get the same opportunity.

Well, after our conversation on Tuesday  night, she had a question for me.  She asked, “Debrena, over all of the years that I’ve known you, no matter what is happening in your life *and she cited moving, husband’s two hospitalizations, Warm Spirit closing, our very challenging marriage years that lasted for 3 difficult years, my knee injury, our 2nd car dying on us,* etc., you always land on your feet and you are able to stay positive in the face of it. How are you able to do this?

I actually had not had someone word this question to me in quite this way before.  So I paused a minute, and then I responded…..

Contrary to popular belief, you may be shocked to know that I DON’T believe that things happen for a reason. This would mean that there is a motive behind everything that happens, or a good explanation, rationale or justification. What I believe is that THINGS HAPPEN.

Then I, as the Meaning-Maker and the Meaning-Assigner get to DECIDE what it means to me and for me. And this is regardless of what OTHERS may think it SHOULD mean to me, or what it means to them.

I have been endowed with the power of “say so” with regard to interpreting EVERYTHING that happens in my life.
For things that happen in my life, NOTHING is inherently “bad” to me. For real.

I get to CHOOSE and assign the meaning.  I continue to choose to assign meaning that is EMPOWERING to me instead of DISEMPOWERING. I continue to choose to assign meaning that translates into what happened moving me onward and upward. Those are the only two directions I choose to move in.

If I have a choice, why would I choose a meaning that disempowers me or has me feel helpless or bummed out?  Why would I choose an interpretation of an occurrence that had me feel angry, powerless or victimized?

To get back to Asara’s question, I guess that I’m able to stay joyful in the midst of happenings in my life because I ALWAYS choose to assign meaning that empowers me.

So when I injured the miniscus of my knee playing soccer, the cause of the injury was put in motion when I said yes to getting on the field. So I choose to be on the field and engage in a game of soccer when I injured my knee. I chose to be in this place at this time, doing this activity. So no need for me to be angry at myself, angry at the other team, or angry at anyone.  But what I can do is ASSIGN MEANING to what happened. AND I can ask, Now, what can I learn from this occurrence that moves me onward and upward?

Since I had been praying over the previous couple of weeks before the soccer game to “go deeper” in my relationship with God and to awaken more of my spiritual gifts, I chose to interpret my injury as being used to answer my prayer.

Though my doctor recommended surgery, I opted to heal my knee using mind-body principles and special therapeutic exercises. In addition, I started speaking to my knee every day, and lovingly kissing on her everyday. One day, out of the blue, God instructed me to look in my upstairs hallway linen closet for a mysterious, ancient Chinese ointment that my hubby had purchased 2 years prior, and never used. I had totally forgotten about it.  It was waaay in the back of the linen closet and wasn’t even visible when you opened the closet door.

I started to apply this ointment daily *it was written in Chinese so I don’t even know what it was called J, and continued with my exercises, and also with praising, appreciating and affirming my knee everyday – along with lots of kisses of appreciation for “all she’d done for me and all she’d brought me through over the years.” I’m an ex-high school all-league athlete and state track star so I had a lot to thank her for….

My knee injury required me to be home-bound for 2 weeks. And guess what it enabled me to do? Lengthen my morning prayer and meditation time, and practice being still for hours on end, with my family having to bring everything to my bedside until the swelling and some minimal flexibility returned 2 weeks later. I had to cancel every business luncheon, business meeting, and outside client appointment.  And guess what happened? – I went deeper, and more of my spiritual gifts began to awaken.

I now havestarted to be able to receive spiritual messages for others based upon specific situations that may be occurring in their lives. Prior to my knee injury, I was able to do this for myself only, but not for others.

I used my knee injury in this example to address Asara’s question, but I could “plug in” any number of “things” that have occurred over the past 10 years that others might consider “serious challenges.”  For example, Most recently, my husband and I declared bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy which enables us to wipe out and be totally free and clear of ALL unsecured past debts that we have. Given that my husband previously had a real estate business that went belly-up, a Range Rover that we turned back in to the credit union a few years ago, and medical bills from my husband’s two hospital stays and surgeries a few years ago, we had literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt that is being wiped away.  Whoosh – Gone!

Now some may choose to ASSIGN THE MEANING that declaring bankruptcy is bad, shameful, and then keep it a secret. Not me  – I consider it a fresh start. I have nothing but gratitude that some rich white guys in Congress passed this type of law years ago, for themselves, and now I get to benefit.  They passed a law that would allow them to not be burdened by debt from a failed business.  How amazing is that?

And now, I get to benefit from this law that allows me to be “pardoned” if you will, from past debt, no matter what amount.  I  choose to assign meaning that says “It’s a new day.  It’s a fresh start.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a GOOD thing. I feel relieved, lighter, thankful, joyful, and free of debt weight that would easily have taken up to another 30 years to pay off.

So you see, I don’t have to TRY to be positive. That takes too much efforting. I am the meaning-maker. And I continue to choose meanings that keep me in a state of joy.  So I am being joyful, not TRYING to be positive.  Being joyful is a natural response to the meanings I assign to what happens in my life.

So thanks for indulging me on this narrative.

I hope that this blesses you.

Love you,

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