Sometimes strength looks like pressing heavy metal to the sky with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Sometimes an equal measure of strength is simply taking up your bed and walking. The other day when I went to bed I assumed that because of a big shift that had happened in my mind, I would jump out of bed the next morning, throw on my gym clothes, and hit the gym, amped and ready to strengthen my body after months of sedation due to surgery and recovery.
Instead, I woke up with a sudden rush of grief and pain that pressed me to the mattress, refusing to let my body move. What? What is this? I was fine yesterday. I was ready to overcome, to challenge myself, to push forward. And here I was, my chest caving in with pain, tears flowing from my eyes the minute they opened. I couldn’t catch my breath. I felt weak, like I had pushed those metal weights above my head and they had come crashing down, pinning me to the bed.
This is grief. Unpredictable, unexpected, unanticipated. I had someone tell me, “If I knew the wave was coming, I would be more ready.” But the grieving heart rarely has the luxury of preparation, with the exception of those “anniversaries” and trigger dates, we simply don’t know when it’s coming.
And even to the heart like mine (almost 19 months into this) learning to find joy in the midst of pain, knowing what it means to take care of myself, and experienced with the look and feel of the tidal waves, I find myself caught off guard, unprepared.
So on days when the pain hits hard and heavy, all I can do is “take up my bed and walk”, and it takes every single ounce of strength to do it.
And it takes grace, that go-easy-on-yourself kind of grace, to walk on days like that. My judging heart whispers, “You should be stronger, in a better place, this stuff shouldn’t get to you so badly now. You’re trying to help others and you can’t even help yourself.”
Grace says, “Go easy, go easy, one step at a time. Get some coffee. Sit in this and feel it. The only way through it is to feel it. You can do this. You’ve done it before. Breathe.”
And “coming alive” doesn’t mean the pain is over, my friends. Coming alive doesn’t mean I’ve got it all figured out and have conquered this beast called Grief. Coming alive simply means I’m learning how to pick up my bed and walk, even when it hurts. Coming alive means that I am looking for ways to love bigger, extend compassion, and dish out grace to others and to myself.
I imagine that cripple man at the water’s edge, stuck in his pain, broken, overwhelmed by how far it was to get to the healing water in front of him. His eyes so set on his weakness and pain. Wishing someone would carry him. And Grace looks down and says, “Take up your bed and walk. You don’t have to run. It’s not a race. Just take up your bed and walk. You’ve got this.”
Sometimes coming alive looks like throwing back the covers of your bed, putting your feet on the floor, and taking a single step forward towards the water’s edge.
Or the coffee pot….