I suppose one of the more difficult challenges to openly grieving and doing my life, is the pressure to be okay when I may not be okay. And, the truth is, I really am, as a whole, doing great for the place in life I am in. But, there are times I am not okay. Why is it so hard to admit it openly?
For those of us with a strong fight to live and that want to live life with joy, it can be hard to admit when we are struggling. I’ve been pondering why that might be. I can only speak for myself, but I think the biggest reason I struggle is pride. I don’t want to be characterized by being okay and then say I’m not. I don’t want pity. I don’t want people to crowd around me wanting to help because I’ve said I’m struggling. And, frankly, there is probably very little anyone could do to help me. However, I do greatly appreciate all the help I’ve been given and welcome the help when it is needed.
Another reason I think it’s difficult to admit not being okay, is that I miss the mark of my own standards. I wonder how many of us view other’s opinions through the standards we set for our own personal life. We literally imprison ourselves in a cell of self-inflicted judgments! We hold the key and choose to believe the lies we tell ourselves.
At just one week shy of crossing the 9 month mark of widowhood, I am tired. I have been reflecting much lately as to why I feel I have hit a brick wall, so to speak. Today, as I was on my usual walk, I went all the way back to November 13 and retraced my steps. I set high standards for myself. As I look back, the first 2-2.5 months, I literally crashed and burned. Yet in the midst of the “crash”, I was still pushing so very hard! I allowed myself to fully feel my grief, but in many ways fought to live life as “normal”. I wanted to tackle this new life with gusto the way Clint and I would have all the years before! I wanted to make him proud! I wanted to keep the promise I made to him on his deathbed as I whispered in his ear that I would move heaven and earth to make sure the kids and myself would be alright and not just alright but thrive! I told him I would not waste all he gave me and taught me. I meant every word!
Lately, I’ve been finding it a struggle to gather the motivation to get out of bed some mornings. I struggle to care about bills or paperwork that needs to be sent to the healthcare office for the umpteenth time. I struggle to care that eating out is the norm for us. I struggle to care if my house is clean. I struggle to care if I make deadlines. I struggle when I think of school coming again and not feeling ready to stretch my brain with math and science. I’m tired of adulting! I’m mom 24 hours a day with few breaks.
For many of us, we can always look at someone else who has it worse than us. Many people feel bad coming to me with their problems now, because they see my life as worse than their’s. But I know many others who I feel have problems way bigger than mine! In truth, none of us can know a more extreme pain than what we have experienced thus far on our own journey. I never want to be characterized by being an “Eeyore”, but it has to be okay not being okay sometimes and having the freedom to voice it. All of us, widowed or not, need the permission to say it and know we are okay for doing so and not worrying that someone else has it worse so we just need to keep our mouths shut.
I’ve probably written this before, but it bears repeating…Paul voiced it too! When I need a reminder that I’m beautifully human and all is well, I go to this Scripture in the Bible. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 & 14-15 “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He WILL still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many…NOW thanks be to God who ALWAYS leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in EVERY place!! For we ARE to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
Paul despaired. Paul struggled. Paul allowed it to be written down for all of us to know it’s okay to struggle and say so. We all have the sentence of death. But, if we can not seem to find joy in any thing else, it can be found in the fact that God made a way for us to be with Him for all of eternity! He raises the dead! He delivered us from bondage and eternity separated from Him! He is still delivering us. I believe Paul is referring to the verse that says, ““And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose,” ~ Romans 8:28.
The last couple verses I listed remind me why it is so important to remember these truths! I want to be characterized by my joy but also my honesty when I struggle. I want my life to “diffuse the fragrance of Christ among” EVERYONE! Remembering what I’ve been given and what I am here for keeps me going on days or even through seasons where the struggle is real and it takes all I have to push through it!
So, it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to say it. But, when you find yourself in a struggle, go back to Truth. Reflect on Paul’s life and words. Meditate on it. And, then walk in it. It doesn’t mean life will get better. It DOES mean your outlook can change. And, that is powerful!