This has been a rough start to the week. I came off a week of camp worn out and a little bit not feeling the best and was slapped right in my exhausted face by Father’s Day. It hasn’t been pretty. I tried to muscle through Sunday, but I did a terrible job and left even more exhausted because now I was emotionally exhausted as well.
When, while I was sitting in church alone, trying to keep from running out the door if the preacher happily said “father” one more time, I got a text asking if we should cancel our group because someone wanted a day off. It sounded great to me because I was done with the things. I went home and slept the rest of Sunday and most of Monday because yes, friends, that’s how I avoid my life, especially when I’m tired. I had extroverted for 6 days straight. That’s a lot.
Yesterday I had an appointment scheduled in the afternoon. I wanted to cancel it. But I figure if you really want to duck out of therapy it’s probably a good sign you should go. It wasn’t a happy pretty session, but she has me pegged as usual. “You’re uncomfortable with these emotions.” Yup. “Do you ever just sit in the sadness?” Not if I can help it. “Do you ever just let yourself cry?” Not unless I’m alone. And we talked about all the things, well maybe not all of them.
You see, one of the reasons it still trips me up is I don’t know how to put words to the things surrounding this. I never have. My dad’s death affects me. It always has and it probably always will. Part of the hard of it all is the fact that I’m only now learning to put words to the thing. That’s strange for someone who puts words to all kinds of things, even things that don’t need words. But for this, I’ve never had the words, or I’ve run from the words, or a combination of the two. “Why do you think you never wanted to talk about it?” I dunno. (That’s my answer for a lot of things it seems). “Maybe it’s because you didn’t have the words.” And just like that, I know she still gets me, even in the hard stuff.
And then at the end when she says, “I know you’ve wanted to bolt out of that door for a full hour now, but I’m proud of you that you didn’t,” somehow I know I’m proud of me too. This is the hard stuff. Running and avoiding is still where I feel most comfortable. I’m trying to learn to sit with whatever the emotions are, even the ugly ones. I’m trying to figure out how to not push people away from me in these moments, but that will take a lot more time and the patience of my people. Thankfully I probably have both.
Last week at camp I was sitting on the golf cart, alone watching the activity. (I’m a nurse at camp, so that’s my job unless someone gets hurt). I was sitting with my Bible and I don’t actually remember how I ended up in Romans but I stumbled upon the above verse. This verse has always been tricky for me, as I’m sure you can imagine. All things? Every single thing? The bad things and the good things? All means all of it. And yet…it gets hard sometimes if I look for the good and can’t find it. I wondered where I missed a step. Or I question God’s definition of good.
When my dad died, some people said this verse but I couldn’t understand how God could think of that as good. Was it a cruel joke? My dad wasn’t a bad guy so how could my life not be better with him in it? How could this be better? What good could come out of this? I have struggled for 37 years of my life with being a fatherless daughter. What good comes out of that? Come on, God. You must have meant MOST things work for good. Maybe something got lost in the translation.
Then the wind blew. (Literally, I know that’s weird). And my Bible flipped a little and something caught my eye; again I have no idea why. But, it started to make sense.
Maybe the good isn’t the thing that happens always. Sometimes maybe that’s found in the opportunity for God to show his power to me or to someone else. Paul was pretty good at using his suffering to help others. He said he counted his suffering as joy. Maybe he wasn’t sadistic but rather realized the power God could display through this situation. It’s not saying he enjoys any part of the suffering. I mean he says he asked three times for it to be taken away. Maybe he understands what I still don’t: sometimes suffering is necessary.
He asked three times but God said no. Jesus asked for the cup to pass from him too, but God said no. Maybe what they both know is that sometimes bad things are necessary for the greater good of God’s plans. This may not be the good, but the good may come out of it.
Is God asking to be able to show his power in my situation? Will his grace be made perfect in my weakness? Can my pain point someone else to him? Only if I’m able to focus on the cross and his will. Only if I have an attitude of gratitude instead of pity. Only if I let his will be done.
It’s okay to have the conversation with God that says, listen I don’t like this and I wish it was different. But at the end of the day, to come back and realize and recognize the sovereignty and divine wisdom of a God that knows far more than I do. A God that knows how my story comes out. A God that wants to sit with me in the emotions I want to run from and to walk with me through the hard things. A God that wants to give me a testimony out of all this maybe one day.
And it’s here that I can say, ok maybe it will work for good. It’s not good. I can’t ever agree that it’s good but maybe it can WORK FOR good in his ultimate purpose.
So I continue to fight for the words to process and learn to sit in the sadness sometimes, but not for too long. Maybe I will even learn how to invite others into my sadness. Maybe. I will come out of all this stronger if I continue to fight through it and learn from it.
As I left the office yesterday, I was given strict instructions to be kind to myself for the whole rest of the day. To not critically analyze anything. (Oh ya, she already knows I do that too). It was an acknowledgement that this was a hard day and it’s ok to need some time. It’s ok to be a little beaten up by the process. It’s not ok to not give yourself grace.
Someday I might have all the words I need to fully process this thing. I imagine I’ll have to keep fighting it every time it pops up though. But I am learning to fight a kinder fight with myself. I’m finding myself and it’s an uphill battle. I may not always like what I find, but I’m thankful that I can work on the rough patches. Someday I might turn into an interesting piece of art.