Monday, December 22, 2014

Waking up

Confession: I run from pain. For many reasons. Sometimes I feel like it's selfish to process pain. It makes me a burden on others, it makes me less productive, it means I'm ungrateful, etc. I want to be perfect (perfectionist tendencies...blah) and I want to feel whole so I run away from painful situations and try to push down feelings of sadness or grief.

But it's not serving me well. I have a friend who is going through a very sad time in her life right now and we've done a lot of processing together. I would never tell her not to work her way through her grief and to just get over it. In fact, I feel honored that she trusts me enough to let me grieve with her. It redeems my own times of sincere sadness and loneliness. At least now it can be used to assure someone that they can survive the sadness! I can tell people that it will take a long time to come through won't be the same again because you will be softer and stronger. I can tell them that maybe they will always have some grief that they carry with them. That years from now they will still be learning lessons from this experience. It is a big deal and it's okay to treat it like a big deal.

Through all of that I'm learning that those same truths apply to me. And I'm surprised to find myself feeling grieved over past experiences. I have to acknowledge that those dreams existed and maybe somewhere deep inside still do and the lack of their realization hurts. I remember the loneliness and confusion I felt when it seemed like most of my life was being turned upside down and wondering if it would make sense and if I would feel happy again. And sometimes it still hurts. In fact, sometimes I'm surprised at how raw the pain of it all can be even now almost half a decade later. I feel a lot older...a lot more cynical and a lot less willing to be vulnerable.

But, I'm trying not to be that way. I don't want to experience less of life even though it hurts us. Several years ago one of my aunts was in a serious car accident. She almost died it was so bad. She shattered one of her hip sockets and had to have it reconstructed and she had rods placed in her leg so she could walk again. She experienced some nerve damage as a result and didn't know if she would regain full feeling in her leg again. Some of the nerves healed and it was a painful process. As the nerves came back to life she experienced a lot of pain and discomfort, but she bore it so well. I think this helps me understand my emotional experiences. Experiencing the sadness and loneliness again isn't a bad's letting things I buried resurface; letting experiences I tried to kill wake back up to life. It's admitting something is wrong and that I want it to get better. But it's also understanding that just like when we're injured physically and our bodies repair themselves we sometimes have scars that never go away. It's part of us now and part of our story. And sometimes it makes me feel that I have this ugly scar that others have to look at and help me deal with and that's maybe a lot to ask of some people. But maybe it can have redemptive qualities too. Perhaps it will help me learn humility and vulnerability in a new way. Perhaps it will make me more compassionate towards those who need understanding and love. Perhaps it will help me be there for someone who needs comfort and hope. Maybe it's part of that painful refining process that yields a more useful version of myself.

I'm hoping 2015 will be a year of redemption. A year to heal from hurts in the work through problems left be open to new hopes and opportunities. I want to go back over some things this year and see them as meaningful and beautiful, not as destructive and ruining. I want this new year to be a Jubilee year.


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