I just finished reading Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery. And my initial reaction is, “Yep, she’s on the wisdom path for sure now.”
I discovered Momastery when everyone else did, back in 2011 or 2012 when her Don’t Carpe Diem post went viral. Battling post partum depression, her blog became part of my personal treatment plan. I realized that even moms who aren’t depressed occasionally get tired of their kids, and that’s OK. What a blessing!
In 2013, Melton visited my church in Raleigh, NC as the keynote speaker of our women’s conference. I was there, loving every minute, getting my book autographed, drinking her in. But although I enjoyed it, I knew that there was something missing. It was missing in her book too. Despite the torturous journey she had been on, she wasn’t part of the wisdom journey, at least not in her public speaking. At the time, she had just had her first separation from her husband.
Now, over three years later, she has a second book out, Love Warrior, and has announced that she is getting a divorce. That’s kind of a big deal, as the book focuses on her marriage. Lots of people are shaming her for this. But I don’t. I’ve never thought that divorce was one of those sins that cuts you off from God. I was raised to know that divorce is sometimes the healthiest and best thing for a marriage.
So I read the book and I loved it. And while I was reading it I recognized the same words and the same path that I’ve read in many other books. The wisdom journey.
Martha Beck describes the wisdom journey in Expecting Adam and Leaving the Saints. Cynthia Bourgeault describes the wisdom journey in Wisdom Jesus and The Wisdom Way of Knowing. Richard Rohr describes it in Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality. Robert Benson describes it in Between the Dreaming and the Coming True.
The wisdom path is the spiral path of paradox. Once on it, we recognize that we are in a spiral, constantly facing the same battles, the same fears, the same dragons in a cycle that never ends. The pathway to that path is the dragon’s mouth: the moment we decide to enter fully into our pain and weakness rather than walk away from it. Most of us are dragged into it, because after all, who in their right mind would walk into a dragon’s mouth? But we go there because the alternative is no longer acceptable. We can no longer ignore the dragon, we can no longer bypass the dragon, we can no longer pretend that the dragon belongs to someone else. And so we walk through the dragon into the spiral path of wisdom.
Wisdom is where all the paradoxes begin to make sense. We see that freedom can only exist within servanthood. We see that forgiveness can only be received and shared, not given. We see that there is no separation between self and other, even as we see the need to create healthy psychological boundaries to ensure that we can all be safe.
When someone is on the wisdom journey, they tell you about being in touch with the true self and source: whether that be God, the Holy Spirit, the divine indwelling, or the true ego-less self. They tell you about how the only way to resolve and survive your pain is to embrace and accept it. They tell you about how the same issues come back time and time again, and each time we battle the same concerns and emerge wiser and stronger because of it.
I will never be free from my childhood hurts and scars because they are my dragons. They were encoded in me at an early age, and so they are my defaults. But maybe they aren’t dragons? Maybe they look like dragons at the bottom of the spiral staircase, but at each level they look a little less scary. Maybe at the top of the staircase, when I meet God, the dragons will be little kitty cats that I cradle in my arms.
One final aspect of the wisdom journey: there is always the recognition of this paradox: I am whole and complete and I am lonely for the Divine and will never find relief from that loneliness on earth. We realize that we are a whole: we do not need to find what is missing from anyone or anything. And we also realize that until we make a divine connection between our whole self and the Divine, we will never be happy.