AS LONG AS WE NEED

Initially, people call, text, check in, bring coffee, make sure you eat dinner. But soon, they talk only of normal, day-to-day things. And you stand there with holes in your heart saying “Yeah, it has been pretty warm for October, hasn’t it?” as if you aren’t just learning how to breathe again. Everyone else’s moving on makes you wonder –isn’t it about time I move on too?

At first, you bring it up often –almost as if to convince people [and your own self] that it really happened. But soon, you get the sense that it’s time to stop bringing it up. Time to stop being sad. Time to be fine. This quick return to normalcy communicates that it’s probably time for you too to be normal again.

But I have this friend and we have this agreement:
We are staying here as long as we need.

An ongoing invitation to be not-okay, not-over it, not-normal for as long as it takes. She and I have experienced very different kinds of pain, but we have this need for restoration in common. And restoration of all different kinds takes time –rarely the amount of time you planned for. Maybe the best thing we can give each other is as much time as it takes.

Sometimes the best thing you can say to someone in pain is I see you, I remember what happened, I don’t expect you to be over it if you aren’t ready. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it’s okay to not be okay. That the people around us haven’t forgotten our battles and bruises. So if you’re still sad, or still healing or just still breathing –you have plenty of time. It’s okay to have good days and bad days and both days, and you will. It’s okay to be right where you are. You can stay here as long as you need.

WHEN HEALING ISN’T WHAT YOU THINK

Sometimes it’s pouring your heart out and laying awake at night, but other times it’s Joey Speaks French and strawberry popsicles. I’m finding that healing isn’t always what you think it’s going to be. Yes, there are moments of deep grief, of immeasurable weight, and underlying fear. But also, there are moments of freedom, where the weight is lifted, where you catch yourself dancing around the kitchen and know you’re going to be okay again. Over time, the waves of grief crash less frequently and the freedom feels more like home + I think that’s healing. Each season of grief is different, because you’re different –but the light slowly, surely overtakes the darkness all the same.

On her podcast, Jen Hatmaker always closes by asking her guests the question “What is saving your life right now?” I want you to hear that the healing itself is always, only because of Jesus, but I also want to share some of the things that are healing me here:

She Reads Truth –I’ve always loved the girls at SRT, but never as much as I do right now. Their aim is Women in the Word of God every day, and I’ve watched them go after it faithfully for several years. I’m finishing up the Open your Bible study, and just started 1 + 2 Samuel. The most consistent advice I’ve received in this season has been read your bible. It might sound cliche, but it’s been my steadiest comfort, my surest help, and some days, the only to-do on my list. In a world of changing and crumbling and passing away, God’s word is permanent + that, for me, changes everything.

Whole30 + PiYo –I started Whole30 on the first of this month [I wrote a bit about it here], and have been chipping away at PiYo because it’s the first workout plan I’ve found that I don’t hate. In this season of finding a new normal, these two have helped me prioritize mental + physical health in ways that laying on the couch and surviving on pastries did not.

A New Space –I finally rid my wardrobe of the “I haven’t worn this in two years, but someday I might” pieces, cleared out the stuff collecting dust under my bed, and emptied the junk drawers. This is surprisingly healing. I finally found the right rug, stored my stuff in a way that works, and hung only things I adore on the walls. Waking up to morning light in a minimalist space is magic, and I’ve found that starting and ending my days in a simpler space sets a different and wonderful tone for my day.

Telling the Truth –“I don’t want to act like life is perfect, because it isn’t + I don’t want to act like life is over, because it isn’t.” This is the closest I’ve gotten to articulating my aim in communicating these days. The reality is that this summer has been a hard one, and not just for me. That these days are laced with hurts and disappointments and grief of all different kinds –but also with hope and promise and deeper roots. And how do you represent both well? At this point, I think you just tell the truth. The truth about God and about your present reality, and also about hope. Sometimes an honest account of where we are is all we have to give. When we tell the truth, we remember what’s true and we give others permission to do the same.

These things, along with old Jon Foreman songs, quiet mornings, good coffee, and my people have been making me well. Because it is well. The grief-waves will slow, the freedom will settle in, the Healer will show Himself again to be faithful. Because of Jesus, it cannot be but well.

WAVES

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear…
Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. —C.S. Lewis

As I’m grieving the loss of what was and the loss of what it seemed would be, these words from C.S. Lewis describe my experience with grief more accurately than anything else I’ve encountered. The weeks after I called off my wedding were characterized by fear –I was disoriented, anxious, and mostly, afraid. Afraid of numbness and of feeling, of newness and of sameness, of nothing and everything, of the past and the future and of being right here. I found that my feelings [and ensuing ugly cries] welled up most often in moments of transition –driving home from meeting up with a friend, packing up after being at my parents’ for the weekend, even in the transition from waking up to making coffee. During those weeks, I experienced peace, overwhelming kindness and an unmistakable assurance of God’s faithfulness + provision. Moments of hope interrupted by moments of fear.

The thing about grief is that it comes in waves –one minute you’re laughing over iced Americanos, and the next, you can’t breathe. But the thing about God that the wind and waves obey Him, that it’s He who tells the ocean how far it can go. He has parted seas and stilled stormy waters, and every day the motion of the tides reminds us that He’s still in control. He allows our grief, but He never abandons us in it. Its waves won’t overtake us, no matter how overwhelming they seem.

I’ve been to the ocean three different times in this grief-season. The water is shockingly cold and wonderfully vast and there’s nothing quite like it for soul healing. I’m never more aware of my smallness, and in turn, of God’s muchness. In the earliest days –when I still had to remind myself to sleep, shower, and eat foods other than sweet potato chips, I had a dear friend who said, “We’re running away, and we’re going to the ocean.” It seemed like the best and only thing to do. Because standing in front of the ocean, you remember. You remember that God is much less safe and small and contained than you thought, that the roaring and crashing and swelling waves have always known His voice, that we won’t be swallowed up because of Jesus, who swallowed up death forever.