In the 1993 movie Groundhog Day the main character is a weatherman named Phil who gets caught in a blizzard that he didn’t accurately predict. He becomes stuck in a time warp, reliving the same day over and over until he gets it “right”. There’s a lot of literature about the underlying significance of this film (everything from spiritual transcendence and purgatory to self-awareness) but for now, let’s keep it simple: the same day is on “rewind” and Phil can’t control it.
We may not experience the suspension of time like Phil did, but we humans often do the same things over and over, expecting different results, only to wind up frustrated, sad, angry or hurt.
When we have emotional pain that’s never been healed, we sometimes keep trying to “fix it” so that our suffering goes away. We want to be heard. We want to know our feelings are important. And, no matter how many times that hasn’t worked in the past, we often keep on trying. Maybe the attempts take on a slightly different posture, and maybe they become less frequent, but they’re still there.
Then when we try for the fifth—or twenty-fifth—time to assuage our woundedness and we’re met with excuses (disguised as reasons), or stony silence, we fall deeper into the trap.
I fell into that very trap again recently, with exactly the same result as before:
I didn’t feel any better,
I went to bed upset,
and I woke up the next morning wishing I hadn’t relived my personal “groundhog day”.
When I find myself in a pain-based, emotional place—hurting, sad and feeling very small—that’s when I feel furthest from God and my core self. It’s like I have a giant wound, and no matter how often I start letting it heal, I end up ripping the scab off and starting the process again. Then the rolling pain takes over and I feel exposed and vulnerable and (let me be honest) pretty stupid.
If we already know how something will end,
because it’s been played out so many times with the same outcome,
why do we keep on doing it?
I have to work harder on my “desired behavior management” and have more conversations with God about forgiving myself when I hit the “rewind” button. I have to allow myself the grace I would offer to others. I have to count my blessings and I have to move right back into the house of joy.
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