For those unfamiliar with deep, painful grieving, it might seem that a year or two was enough. Enough time to really delve the depths of sadness, anger, and acceptance. Enough space to process all there is to know about loss and moving on. Enough. Oh, how I wish it was. I am so ready to be done with pain and grief. So, so ready. But much like the old high school knee injury that aches with shifting weather patterns, grief does not go away with passing time. It merely changes.
Wounds are weird. It has always amazed me how the body manages to heal itself. Of course healing can be aided by doctors, medication, or therapy — but the cells repair themselves over time and the bones bind back together after a break. And yet we all know that there are often setbacks along the way. A wound refuses to heal because of an infection, rehabilitation is halted by a tear in newly strengthened muscles, or over-exertion forces a patient back in bed after a bout with the flu. I believe emotional is healing is like that as well. Over the past two years I’ve found periods of immense growth, joy, and peace. I’ve also had seasons of darkness, depression, and anger. Each time I conquer the darkness it gets a little less powerful. The depths of pain become more shallow as the tides roll in and out.
The season of incredible joy and overwhelming feeling of gratitude and healing I felt this summer was followed by a season of sadness this fall. It wasn’t nearly as deep or as dark as in the past, but it was very real and very all-consuming at times. This setback came unexpectedly. It arrived with the surprising news of my pregnancy. This joyous, though unplanned, news revived old hurts from long ago. It served as a trigger to many wounds that I thought I’d laid to rest. I’m sure the hormones and incessant sickness didn’t help my state of mind, but I found myself pretty well mired in the pit of my pain.
So, I stopped writing for awhile. I like to write when things are cemented in my mind, and the unsettledness and the stuckness that I was experiencing didn’t fit that prescription. I didn’t feel ready to move on from the pain, I felt like I really needed to feel it and sit in it for awhile. I know for certain that I didn’t rush past my initial pain two years ago — any of my friends or family can tell you how deeply I grieved. But, I am the first to admit that this pain was dulled a bit once I met Johnathan. It didn’t feel as loud to me and the need to focus on healing didn’t seem so pressing. We’ve always both known there was more healing to do, but I think some of the immediacy of it was mitigated by our happiness with one another. So this time I felt like I needed to stay awhile. That I shouldn’t just rush past what I was feeling to the happy ending.
Beauty can come from pain, but that doesn’t mean that pain is always beautiful. At the height of pain it is just gritty. I don’t think God will ever leave us in a place of hopelessness, but that doesn’t mean we’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel when we are in it. I am so thankful for those who just sat with me in my pain. I know they wanted to see me move past it, and yet, they didn’t force me to just “get over it”. They just shared in the pain with me, prayed with me (when I couldn’t), and reminded me of truth that I needed to hear.
I think we love happy endings and, by all means, my 2017 collage sure looks like the best case scenario for me. I am so grateful for the ways God is redeeming the painful situations I found myself in, but even in the joy there is lingering pain. Sometimes there are no happily ever afters, just seasons of joy mixed with pain — healing mixed with reopened wounds. As the pain and healing ebb and flow, I’m thankful for a permanent and perfect rest to look forward to in heaven. Until then, I put my hope in the Healer and trust him for the healing only he can provide here and now as I walk through life. He is Good.