chicken-feetOn the radio show a few weeks ago, a caller asked why her ex-husband wouldn’t leave her alone. She was happy to be out of a difficult marriage and she wanted him to ‘go away’ and never bother her again.

I’ve had several clients think that once they were out of a challenging situation they would never have to see or deal with it again.

Our former issues don’t just disappear, we usually have to face them again but we don’t have to invite them into our lives. They will show up as on option on life’s menu but we can choose something else instead.

This reminds me of my first experience with chicken feet, a dish served at dim sum or yum cha, a smorgasborg served in Chinese restaurants. I was first introduced to dim sum, or yum cha, when I lived in Sydney, Australia.

A friend invited me to lunch with her family at one of Sydney’s best yum cha restaurants. After we said hello and sat down, a throng of servers began to circle the restaurant with carts loaded with steamer baskets and dishes of many different types of food. Whatever we chose from the cart was put on the table.

After the first round of selections, my friend put a small dish on my plate with what looked like fat battered french fries on it. They were chicken feet, a yum cha delicacy and a treat for me, as the guest of honor. Now there are not too many foods I won’t eat (you all know I don’t like tomatoes or okra), and I am not a picky eater, but I could not even consider putting one bite of those chicken feet in my mouth.

At first I thought they were joking — who eats chicken feet? But they were not joking, these were real chicken feet, battered and deep fried,  they were on my plate, and I was expected to eat them.   After pondering my options for a few minutes I told my friend that it was impossible for me to eat chicken feet and I would be happy to share my good fortune with someone else.

I gave them to her grandmother, who was happy to have them. Towards the end of the meal I looked at her plate and the chicken feet were gone. I guess she really liked the chicken feet and had no problem eating them. 

I could have forced myself to eat them to make everyone happy and to not upset my hosts but then I would have had to live with the memory of having eaten ‘chicken feet’ and I could not do that to myself.

Since then I have eaten yum cha quite a lot and laugh when I see that chicken feet are an option, but I don’t order them. I know some people consider them a delicacy, but they don’t appeal to me. I could refuse to go to dim sum because there are chicken feet on the menu or I can let someone who likes chicken feet order them while I choose from the  many other delicious items on the food cart.

There are lots of things like that in life, and just because they are there doesn’t mean you have to invite them into your life. But just because you don’t want them, or don’t want to deal with them, doesn’t mean they will disappear or go away.

For the woman who wanted her ex husband to vanish from the face of the earth to feel secure in her closure, he is like the chicken feet on the menu. Not the most appetizing menu option if you don’t like chicken feet, but you don’t have to choose them. That doesn’t mean that someone at your table won’t be happy to have them, but that doesn’t affect you.

On the other hand, if the only way that you can feel secure and victorious is for all of your former life issues to disappear, then there is more healing to do before you feel confident about your own completion and closure.

The belief that we are healed and have closure when all of the people and situations that once challenged us disappear from our lives can make us believe that we are never healed, or that our healing path is incomplete.

These are the ‘chicken feet’ on life’s menu. Wanting them to disappear from the  menu forever is unrealistic. Realizing that they will appear and we’ll notice them, but knowing that we can choose to ignore them and choose something else is where we have confirmation that we have closure and are ready to move on.

Bless the ‘chicken feet’ of life’s menu for the lessons you learned from them, then move on and choose something else.

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