I started to cry last night.
Defenses were down, warm friendship held my heart, and I began sharing my “truth.” It’s as if I gave Sadness the permission to be real. Slowly, I felt the ache of loss, the sting of loneliness as Sadness revealed itself. Part of me wanted to run away. Part of me knew Sadness was just waiting, and would continue to wait, until I took the time to be sad.
My life took a little detour last week. I broke my ankle and ended up with surgery, plate and screws, and a future managed by medical appointments. Plans and trips were cancelled and my husband gained a new vocation in his retirement - caregiver. At this point, I feel like “me” except when I’m moving from one place to another....slowly. I’m learning new definitions for patience, freedom, hope, kindness. And sadness.
I share this with you so we can consider, together, how we care for our feelings...sadness in particular. I offer these thoughts with humility. Looking at the lives around us and the rest of the world, so many people face such difficulty and tragedy that my situation seems quite minor. In this larger context, it is minor. At the same time, it’s my leg and my life. The feelings that are triggered are part of me, as well.
I would suspect that most of us keep Sadness on a shelf. Unless it’s an immediate trauma or loss, we keep busy to avoid the feeling. Or we try to convince ourselves “it could be worse,” or “I have to stay strong.” The dull presence or the poignant twinge of emotion sit alongside our life, but rarely gains our full attention. Is it just the pain we are seeking to avoid? Or are there demands sitting underneath the pain, the prospect of change for example, if we accept the Sadness into our hearts and minds?
We humans often focus on achievement and responsibility at the cost of more tender places. We work to defend against painful feelings, but end up denying ourselves the fullness of who we are And we are, in fact, complex, amazing creatures! We are capable of accomplishment and strength, sincerity and presence. With mercy’s touch, we learn to accept and embrace ourselves, and step into the possibility of grace. Our “yes” to life - joys and challenges, sadness and love, hope and loss - is our “yes” to God. Today I say “yes,” even to the sadness. I desire to step (or hop at this point) into the possibility of grace and be who God created me to be.
A few years ago, I received these words from a dear friend, Loren. Her life ended too soon, but her passion inspires me today. As you read this quote, think about the strength and courage you need to accept your feelings. Trust God’s mercy to comfort you in your times of sadness, guiding you toward wholeness. Rely upon God’s love for you and these gifts of strength and courage as you share your “truth” and feel your feelings.
It takes strength to be firm, it takes courage to be gentle
It takes strength to stand guard, it takes courage to let down your guard
It takes strength to conquer, it takes courage to surrender
It takes strength to be certain, it takes courage to have doubt
It takes strength to fit in, it takes courage to stand out
It takes strength to feel a friend’s pain, it takes courage to feel your own pain
It takes strength to endure abuse, it takes courage to stop it
It takes strength to stand alone, it takes courage to lean on another
It takes strength to love, it takes courage to be loved
It takes strength to survive, it takes courage to live
David L Griffith
Peace to you, Lisa