I’ve been pretty open about the pain of this last year. Walking through the ending of my marriage, while simultaneously attending two funerals of family members – it has been a difficult road to say the least. As much as I want to tell you that I’m completely healed from all the heartbreak and that life is back to normal again, I can’t.
Each day brings a different set of emotions.
Some days I am completely enthralled with my daughters and feel excited at the life that lies ahead. Other days, I am swarmed in a blanket of sadness and it feels like it’s all I can do to get through the day.
There is a part of me that wonders, am I talking about this too much? Should I be more quiet about the grief and heartache? But, then, the other part of me echos back saying, No, sweet girl. You should be talking more.
There is not enough grief represented in the world – it’s all tears for a moment (if that) and then marching onward, speaking “life” and joy and a whole bunch of other nonsense in an attempt to convince yourself that you are okay.
It’s a mad cycle.
One that I fear to be a quite unhealthy and a far cry from the example of Jesus. He wept. Even when he knew healing and resurrection were waiting on the other side, he still paused – he stopped – and he grieved.
Even Moses understood this. They had a “set time” period for grief in his day; 40 days (or something like that). Time that was set aside to give space and attention for what had been lost. There was a strong understanding and respect for the healing power of grief.
I used to not grieve; I went numb, sunk inward and drilled through life as best as I knew how.
But, there is a hardening that happens when we do this…one that took me years to undo. You toughen up so you can just survive and keep moving. Because after all, isn’t that what we do? We just move on to the next thing?
As difficult as it is to sit in the pain – to get comfortable with it and close with it – it’s truly the only way to move through it. Otherwise, you are simply taking detours that will inevitably land you right back where you started.
This time is different for me.
This time I’m not jumping to the next thing or pushing myself onward. I’m sitting still….I’m staying with the grief and as much as this feels like it will kill me, I’m going to sit with it until I’m ready to leave it. Because I don’t want to be hardened, bitter, angry or calloused after this. Instead, I want to be grounded even deeper, stronger and softer on the other side. And the only way I know how to do that is to move with the pain.
There is nothing more exposing than sharing with the world that you are hurting. It’s like taking a weak, fragile thing and leaving it out in the wild hoping it will survive.
But if we don’t expose it, how else will others know how?
I’ve learned this path the hard way, and I feel it is my responsibility to myself, to my daughters and to whoever else sees my life to give space to not be okay.
I’ve learned that when the waves come, I have to ride them and feel every ounce of them until there is nothing left to feel. That’s when I know the wave has passed (I recently recorded a podcast during one of these hard moments. I processed the heartache in real time – ugly tears and all. You can listen in on the episode Rising from Pain – How to heal from heartache)
I’m not sure when we lost sight of the significance of grief, but somewhere along the way we adopted the idea that grief and pain meant a lack of faith, or a lack of trust in God or simply just weakness.
I was listening to some of my favorite music at work the other day and the song, It is well came on. This is a song I KNOW. I sang it religiously through times that were dark and hard and lonely. For a while it was my mantra….but as I listened to it recently I had a very different reaction to it.
I pulled out my earbuds and I was like, what about when it is NOT well with my soul?? What about then? Because right now I can’t say those words. Not today. Not now. Nothing about this story right now is well with me.
And that’s when it clicked.
That was the first time I had admitted that out loud.
For the first time I gave myself permission to not be okay.
You see, I have mastered the art of hiding pain. I became a specialist at pushing it down and covering it up with all the right “phrases”, convincing myself and those around me that everything was okay. That all was well with my soul.
But, that wasn’t even close to the truth. My heart and soul were aching…I just didn’t know I had permission to say it.
I can’t help but think how different my story could have been, had I known that I wouldn’t be a lesser leader, Christian or whatever label you want to put on it, had I admitted the full extent that I (and my marriage) wasn’t okay.
And that truth has stuck with me – at times it haunts me.
But, I don’t believe this story is unique to me. I believe this is an epidemic in our culture; where we don’t feel like we have permission to not be okay. And yet, at times, those are the exact words we need to say. Free from shame, fear or judgment – we should have space for grief, anger and sadness.
Because admitting that your soul is not well… is often the very thing needed to move it towards healing.
Anxiety, fear, and tension are the result of holding pain inside or denying it’s there. But, when we are able to name our pain and walk through it, we are then able to release it – and that is where we find peace. And eventually can raise our hands and say, It is well.
PS: To sit in on a raw conversation about how to handle heartbreak/grief and what to do with pain when it hits, listen in on my recent podcast Rising from Pain – How to heal from heartache.