You know that quote that says “healing is not linear”? I feel like that has been very relevant to my life lately. For the past couple months, I have gone through periods of thinking “I AM HEALED” only to shortly be followed by thinking “never mind I’m worse than I was at the beginning,” all. the. time. My journal literally looks like two different people have been writing in it with how back and forth I’ve been on different days — sometimes even within the same day. For me (and I’m sure for many others, too) I get into a habit of beating myself up when I feel like I haven’t made as much progress as I think I should’ve at this point. I get frustrated with myself for still having such a hard time. When I’m having a good day I feel like I’m where I should be, but when it’s a bad day I feel like I’m weak.
I think grief is something that a lot of people feel the need to rush through. For me, one of the reasons I’ve tried to do this is to avoid irritating people. I never want to put pressure on people or burden anyone by coming to them with my problems, because I know for some people that can be draining or uncomfortable. I never want to put people in a position that would cause any discomfort or awkwardness. I’ve told myself so many times that I need to “hurry up and get over this,” because I don’t want to be draining for people to be around because of what I’m going through. So, on top of already struggling to handle what I’m dealing with, I place an added pressure on myself to do it faster, so that everyone else will be happy.
I’ve noticed, though, that the more I try to rush myself, the worse I feel. Trying to speed this process along only strengthens the anxiety I have surrounding the fact that I feel like I’m taking too long to heal. It makes me feel like I should be doing more or that I’m doing something wrong or that I should be doing things differently.
But I know that none of those things are true, and that the pain I still feel is me grieving. I feel like many of us fail to remember that grief is normal. So, completely normal. I mentioned in my last post that as humans, we naturally do our best to steer clear of negative, “icky” feelings and strive for feelings of comfort and happiness — which makes sense. But, when we constantly chase only those positive feelings, we train ourselves to think that it is wrong or abnormal to ever experience any negative ones.
I think there has been a sort of stigma placed around the idea of grief. That it’s selfish. That it’s attention-seeking. That it’s weak. So when people experience grief in any capacity, there is a pressure to just get through it — to get past it so we can move on to the next good thing. When in reality, grief is a part of the human experience, just like any other good thing in life. Everyone goes through their own periods of grief; even Jesus experienced this feeling. It’s important to remember that we are not weak for experiencing a feeling that the Lord planned for us to experience — we are human.
Just like no one would push themselves to rush through positive experiences, we have no obligation to force ourselves to rush through the negative ones, either. When I think about the fact that the pain I’m experiencing is normal, it does help me a little in knowing I’m not alone. And when I remember that the Lord already knew about the hard things I was going to experience before they ever even happened and that they are all contributing to his plan for me, it’s harder for me to think of the hard things I’m going through as “bad.”
I’m saying all of this like I have a lot of wisdom, but honestly I’ve been struggling with truly believing the things I’m writing about now. Because, even though the Lord has a plan for them, the hard seasons feel bad. Like, they feel terrible. So terrible that I can’t picture myself ever getting past it sometimes. So terrible that sometimes I still can’t imagine how anything good could come out of this much heartache. But, it’s just something I have to engrain into my head every single day. I know that the Lord uses the hard things we go through to draw us to him. He uses them to help us grow. He uses them to allow us to be a light for others who may be going through what we have gone through. He has plans to use our pain and our trials in ways we can’t picture, but he can. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for the good of those who love God. That means that the grief we experience is being used for something good, so we should never assume that we need to rush through it.
Another thing I’ve been having to remind myself of is that grief looks different for everyone, so healing looks different for everyone, too. It may take some people a long time to get to a place where they are okay again after going through something difficult, and that’s okay. It may take others only a short time, and that’s okay too. The amount of time that it takes someone to heal from something is not an indication of weakness or lack of trying. We are entitled to feeling grief when it is warranted. We are entitled to taking as long as we need to feel okay again.
It’s very discouraging for me when I wake up some days and realize, “oh, this still really hurts.” It’s frustrating when I still have to fight back tears some days when I thought I had been doing so well. It’s even worse when there are some days when I can’t fight back the tears. It’s all so hard. It all makes me feel like I’m taking steps backwards. That’s when I have to remind myself that healing is not linear. I will have good days and bad days. Anyone who is healing from something will have both. I really wish I could just be progressively better every day, but that’s just not the reality of healing. Some days I wake up and it’s like the situation is still brand new. It hits me right in the stomach and it takes everything in me to get up and force myself to continue functioning. On those days I feel very weak, but I am working on remembering to give myself grace and to praise myself for trying. For continuing to do the things I need to do when all I want to do is nothing. It doesn’t feel like much, but it is.
Another thing that is important to note: the people who love you are not going to try and rush you to heal when you’ve gone through something painful. Anxious thoughts have tried to tell me that I am burdening people by still struggling, but it could not be farther from the truth, and thankfully the people in my life remind me of that often. It’s important not to allow anxious thoughts like these to make you close yourself off, because they will definitely try to make you do that. When I feel myself starting to turn to isolation, I have to remind myself that the people in my life love me and they want to be there for me. That’s something we all have to remember. The Lord wants us to seek community when we’re struggling, and it’s very important for our healing for us to feel love and support from the people who are close to us.
This post feels a little all over the place. But, that’s kinda the way my thoughts have been lately, so I guess it’s fitting. I know I’m not the first person to ever feel the things I write about, so if anyone else was able to relate to this post, hopefully it helped you to realize that you’re not alone. And that we’re in this together, because I am still right in the middle of a very difficult time. Healing is something I have to work towards every day. I’ve been having to make the choice to not be stuck in this hard place I’m in even though working towards healing can feel even harder. It can become draining and discouraging, and it can take all of our energy just to push ourselves to get up and keep trusting that good things will come. But, good things will come. We can know that even on our good days and on our absolute worst days. And on the days when we feel like we don’t have the strength to get out of bed, we don’t need to beat ourselves up or assume that we are falling behind, because the Lord is here to renew our strength and give us grace to try again tomorrow.
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31