D’you ever feel like you’ve got knots in your life? Not nice, tidy functional knots like the ones Boy Scouts tie. I’m thinking about big, gnarly, lumpy knots. The sort of knots that get tighter and snarlier the more you try to untie them. Knots where you can’t find an end or a beginning. Knots that mess you up and hold you down.
Everyone knows the frustration of finding a necklace, or a hose, or an electrical cable hopelessly twisted into a jumble of coils. Are those knots put there by mischievous elves? Untangling them can be a tricky business, irritating and time-consuming. It’s the same with knots in our lives.
Over time we make choices, or things just happen, that weave themselves into a muddle. I’m struggling right now with worries about being responsible for my disabled child as she grows towards adulthood. All the practical problems and my mixed-up emotions conglomerate into a big knotty feeling of being trapped. Then I start to feel resentful and panicky, and before I know it, I am getting angry with somebody I love. I don’t know what to do with it. It’s like a knot in the ribbon of my life.
These knotty tangles can seem overwhelming. Often they involve more than one person, and have grown and convoluted over a period of time. Yours might be a health problem exacerbated by financial or emotional worries. It could be a relationship that has become stuck. Problems with a child, perhaps. A creative impasse. Trouble at work, or with friends, or even in sorting out your home. There are so many ways our lives get tangled and knotted.
I got thinking about ways to deal with knots, and most of them seemed to begin with P. Here’s what I came up with.
First of all, don’t panic! Nothing tightens knots faster than going at them in a frenzy. Before you know it, you’ve twisted things the wrong way and made the problem worse. Much better to sit quietly for a while, maybe go and make a nice cup of tea, and come back to your knot when you feel ready. It will still be waiting for you, but you may feel better about facing it.
Big, complex knots are going to take time to untangle. Don’t expect it all to come free at once. You will need to devote some time, space and resources to tackling your life knots. If it’s taken a while to get into this mess, it will probably take some time to release. That’s ok.
Piece by Piece
A knot is a big confusion of loops and twists. It has to be untied piece by piece, one loop at a time. When you are feeling ready, it can actually be quite satisfying to untangle a big knot. Think of it like solving a puzzle. Enjoy the challenge.
Most problems are more readily resolved when we can sit peacefully and contemplate them. With a tight knot in rope or string, some people recommend soaking it in water to help it loosen. A gentle, mindful approach can help soften those life knots too. You might begin to see the knot from a different angle, revealing whole new ways of untying it. You may even discover positive things about your knot. Journey peacefully.
Stand back, take time, consider, but don’t give up. If something is a real barrier in your life, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to keep working away at it. Ask for help when you need it. You are worth it.
If you believe in God or a higher power, pray about your knot. I’m convinced this can make a massive difference, especially when your problem seems hopeless. Pope Francis has said, ‘Nothing is impossible for God’s mercy! Even the most tangled knots are loosened by his grace.’
There is a Catholic devotion to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. This is based on a story and a painting of Mary patiently untying a long knotted rope which signifies the intractable problems in our lifes. Whatever your belief or tradition, handing over your knots into the loving care of someone greater can be a huge relief.
Loosening the Knots
We all have knots in our lives. Since I started praying about mine, I have felt my anxiety around them begin to loosen. I believe they will be resolved, even if maybe not as quickly and tidily as I would like. I wish you patience, peace and prayer as you tackle your own knots.
Karen Lawrence is an author and mother of seven living in Billericay, Essex, United Kingdom. Karen has published two books and is currently working on three novels.
Letting the Light In: How A Baby With Down Syndrome Changed My Life is Karen’s personal account of having a baby with Down Syndrome. It is available from Amazon athttps://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09HMV8T31
Karen’s first book, Finding Your Calm Space: Thirty-One Ways to find Calm in a Crazy World is available from Amazon at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Your-Calm-Space-Thirty-One-ebook/dp/B08NZ1W9QY
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