I walked back into the ring for a few rounds, and had no idea. I got sucker punched, over and over again - and didn't even know it was happening.
Life has been good. I'd dare say, really good. I have honestly hesitated to say that publicly. I have often worried about what people think about how I'm living my life after losing Joe, but then I realized not so long ago that they are not living my life. 'People' don't know what is going on in my day to day, so it's really no ones business of how I am choosing to live my life in this next.
God really healed me of that thought, that I had to have validation from others on how I live my life. It's weird to write that because it sounds so silly, but if you were to dive deep and look at the way people feel, I think you will find more people do this than we realize.
I love my community, and I lean onto those within my circle for support and guidance. I have an incredible circle of faithful women. I have a therapist I talk to very regularly, and a pastor that I seek wisdom from. But I came to the realization that while all of those things are wonderful, I am the only one that can actually live my life. I appreciate the wisdom and guidance, but at the end of the day, I am still the one who has to actually live with my decisions. So, I'm living my life on my terms while making prayerful decisions, and relinquishing the control to God's guidance for each step.
This is easier said than done. Living surrendered is something my flesh struggles with on the daily, but the more I surrender to His will, the more I find freedom and peace. The idea of relinquishing control to something, to someone, to God - it can be triggering, especially if you have a Type-A personality like mine.
Any Type-A'ers in the house?
If there is anything God has shown me it's that when we are believers in his sovereignty, then living surrendered to Him is a requirement.
It's the essence of our anchor to God.
It's the essence of faith.
This one thing, this one little word, is huge and takes more strength than you can imagine.
It has taken me quite a bit of time to get to this, and a lot of fighting. Fighting against my flesh, against the natural tendencies that I have, and a daily - sometimes more frequent - hands up surrender, or hands out and shove it back to God and say, here, you deal with it. I keep fighting for my desire to have 'complete control' over my life. I want to do it all, and all on my own. Like a petulant child, I dig my heels in, cross my arms, stomp my feet if needed, and will grumble through situations, ever avoiding to actually ask for help.
If you have ever worked with me, you know this for fact. (imagine me shrugging my shoulders)
I am stubborn, and more often than I would like to admit. It sometimes takes me longer to learn a lesson than it should. The positive side of that statement, is that once I learn a lesson, I got it (usually). This does not mean perfection, rather that the lesson will sit in my soul as truth, and then I can pull that truth out and fight against it as needed.
Tracing back stepping into the ring ... I started having this weird feeling again, something was off. It came on after I visited my dad's gravesite a few weeks back. This feeling, I almost thought it was discontent but struggled to put a finger on it, and then it shifted. I was headed into my first small group of the semester a couple weeks ago and this feeling became very strong. It felt heavy. It completely consumed me and made me very emotional. I assumed this feeling had something to do with the group, and the stories I would be holding space for. For the women I would be working with and holding their hands walking through healing steps with. Perhaps, maybe even a bit of anxiety. This small group is one I do not take lightly. I know the work it takes to walk through healing. It's incredibly hard, but what I know is that as we walk through and face things head on, we find freedom.
When we surrender our healing to God, we become liberated from the things that hold us down, but we need people on this side of eternity who have been there, and can be there with us as we walk.
That Sunday I requested prayer and walked into group uncertain how I would make it through. I did. We had a good night together, but as soon as I walked out of the church, the feelings began to weigh me down again. My sleep was restless, and has been since. God healed me from years of poor sleep months ago, so as this started coming back, I also began to panic.
Checking in on the emotions: anxiety, panic, restlessness, discontent, overwhelm, heaviness, indecision and sadness.
Yep, they're all there.
What is happening?
Where is this coming from?
Do you see me stepping into the ring?
I do now.
I have felt utterly overwhelmed since this started, consumed with emotions.
Lots of tears.
Lots of prayers.
Lots of indecision, and feeling paralyzed with inability to move. My house is in disarray, workouts are suffering, my desk is covered in paperwork, I have laundry to put away, and I find myself struggling to focus.
I'm in the middle of this fight, and I still have zero idea what's happening.
Then, Joe's birthday comes up on the calendar this week.
Leading up to the day, I really thought I was ok.
Clearly I was wrong.
His birthday dug up a lot of emotion for me. I had to travel for work and spent the entire 3+ hour drive in tears. Having work was a great distraction once I got there, but dang if the emotions didn't all bubble up to the surface and spill over in every other crevice of the day. How I made it through is a mystery to me, but I know that sometimes distractions are good.
I've kept myself so busy lately too in an attempt to avoid this whatever is happening.
People who know me, have noticed.
What's wrong? You ok? Yep, I'm fine.
I'm not fine.
That's what I told my therapist this week, I'm not fine. I'm a mess.
...she was so kind and said, you know what this is? This is grief.
Ahh yes, Hello, I see you now.
I recognize each of these emotions so very well individually, but when you put them all together it's hard to decipher which one came first, or which is causing the next.
I was getting sucker punched left and right from grief and all its friends, and I had no idea I had even stepped back into the ring to fight.
In therapy this week I was simply told, have grace with yourself. You went through a traumatic event, and yes, this is part of your healing. Journal. Pray. Do something this weekend for you. Then in a few days, start running towards the roar of what prayer and journaling reveals. This is something I know well how to do.
You all know the story of running towards the roar, right?
I could write all about it, but my friend Davey Blackburn shares it so eloquently that I'll just link to his writing here: https://www.daveyblackburn.com/blog/run-toward-the-roar
Manageable actions steps are just what I needed to see clearer and understand I wasn't going crazy, nor was I suffering from a spiritual attack, I was just riding a wave of grief. In recognition of that wave, I found relief. Relief that it would pass, and relief that it's something I have not only seen, but I know how to handle.
Today, I find myself walking out of the ring, or at least trying to climb over the ropes.
I feel battered and bruised, and not quite a conquerer, but still standing.
I had a strong wave of grief hit me.
The wave is going back out to sea, and I'm still standing.
This round, I won.
I'd say this is progress, and healing.