Spilling Out

There was an article on Facebook a week ago, written by a nurse who watched parents bring their children into the PICU (Pediatric ICU). There was a pattern to the process of a beginning, during and after phase which paralleled what we’re going through currently under COVID restrictions. The start of the process, the beginning phase we are looking the situation head on, dealing with the immediate, the panic, the crisis reaction of radical change to life patterns, processes and realities. A shift of thinking about priorities and, well, everything.

The “During” phase is where we are now. During is full of unknowns. The end is unknown. What will happen “during” is unknown. Who will make it through to the end is unknown. Will I catch this? Will someone I care about? What do you mean now my pet could catch this? My neighbour? How will I shop safely? Can I just go for a walk?…

The underlying stress and anxiety of the during phase colours everything like an abstract sort of  baseline onto which everything else piles. The Everything else includes general life – groceries, work, school for the kids, music lessons, pet care, putting in the garden, running a business, [insert usual activity here]. Each of these things has a coating, a wrapper of added time, considerations and sanitizing called “COVID-19” increasing the time each things takes and increasing the level of stress each thing induces.

It’s this during phase where who we are starts to show more clearly. How anxiety and stress play out in our behaviour becomes quicker to surface. 

As Jesus often does, this coincidentally came in my feed:

For some, this is tears, others, sharp tones, others try to take control of anything and everything, some turn daily living into check lists, others hide in video games or literature, others lash out at everyone around them. Yet others still smile, still show grace. There is love and lightness in their words, their eyes and their activities. What is inside of us is what splashes out when we are bumped.

Jesus, I bring my heart and my mind to you. I offer you my self, this vessel that you have built. Holy Spirit, will you show me, in a picture, a word, a memory, or in scripture, what is in me that is spilling out? Lord show me the good things as well as those I need to change. I especially ask you to show me where my sins, where my habits or thought processes are discouraging or hurtful to those around me. Now, please show me the things that are godly, the gifts of the Spirit that you are growing in me. 

Lord Jesus you are my example. Show me how to grow these blessings that they are the things that splash out in this time. The things that are jostled out onto others that bring joy, peace, love and hope.

Cost Uncountable

(A Five Minute Friday Post)

Everything.

It cost everything.

Stepping into obedience the first time cost little in comparison. Yes I gave up time. A LOT of time. And I gave up freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted to but I gained so much in that same space. I gained a knowledge of the Holy Spirit. Of how he moves and works and gifts. I gained insight into missional work and what it means to give thing up in order to serve someone else. Even when that someone else is unknown to me. Unknown to many. Unseen and unloved.

It cost me innocence but gained wisdom and a deeper connection to Jesus. More time in prayer. More time in praise. More time just being.

The second step into obedience was not the same. The second stepping in was a stepping out. Stepping out of the life that had been built. Stepping out of the community I’d come to love. Stepping out of the routine our family had come to know.

Stepping into obedience the first time was joy, light, excitement and nervousness at moving beyond anything I’d done before but knowing Jesus was asking it, that he would equip me regardless the challenge.

Stepping into obedience the second time was pain, sorrow, mourning and reluctance at moving out of familiarity, joy and community. It was like my heart was forcibly ripped from my chest. Yet Jesus was asking this too, same as he had the first.

In my darkest times, I lament the cost. In the brighter moments, I know his cost was much, much higher. And I rejoice through the sorrow.

Lean Into It

There it is again. That ache. The pain. The reminder of loss, of things left behind. Of people, lives, relationships, goals, passions and dreams altered. Separated. Not because of physical loss but spiritual, emotional. One act of obedience that changes the path and leaves a portion of your heart on the side of the road.

It’s a pain that eventually fades. Changes. Mutates. Moves from grief to sorrow. The stabbing lessens to a dull ache, fades to a tender spot. The tender spot the enemy loves to poke with impeccable timing. Those moments when joy starts to shine through, when purpose is forming like an ethereal dream, that’s when he jabs his boney finger right into the most delicate space. That tender spot that awakens the sorrow, stirs the tears and squeezes the heart.

The poke, the pressure, that ache that rises and casts a grey pallor over everything, creating doubt shadows where each decision, each moment, comes with a backpack full of questions, doubts and second guesses.

Grief is not linear

There is no straight line from loss to what we’ll call recovery. I’d like to say “all my life I thought…” but truth is, I never even thought about grief, about loss, about what it means for everyday, what that loss does to the light, to time, to joy, to the very act of breathing, getting up in the morning, going to bed at night, how things look, feel, sound, taste.

While I have lost family members, it never occurred to me that grief as a journey isn’t a straight line. The direct loss wasn’t mine. My heart ached for the spouses left behind. Still aches for them. But it wasn’t until an entirely different circumstance introduced me to grief directly that I began to see it for what it is.

Grief stripped me of all that I thought I knew. It ripped me to the core of my being. It flipped upside down everything I thought I knew about life and loss, living and dying.

In my current journey of loss, the most recent lesson is that it is not linear. One doesn’t simply and gradually “get over it” like walking up a gradual incline. There are days when getting out of bed is an achievement. When emptying the dishwasher counts as a productive day. And while I can look back on the months between impact and today and see how things have gotten less painful, how things have changed and, for lack of better words, gotten better, I then had an experience that put me so far back on the path to healed that I’m not sure the end exists. The proverbial “two steps forward three steps back”.

In this particular case, words spoken in support and hope created turmoil. They were intended to heal, to soften a moment of history yet had the unintended result of ripping open a carefully stitched wound. To be clear, I do not hold the source responsible for the outcome. My reaction is on me alone and I hold no malice, anger or disappointment.

The results though tell the state of my heart and stage of my journey. The imagery that comes to mind is that I had just climbed out of a deep chasm. Rocky walls, damp, rough, the only way out going up, through the pain. And, standing on the edge, finally out of the depths and face turned to the light and warmth, to then have words blindside me back over the edge back into the hole like a wrecking ball into the side of a building.

My choice, once again, to remain in the pit or work, inch by inch, memory by memory, hurt by hurt back up the edge. Jesus on belay, me searching for toe holds through the threat of tears.

Grief doesn’t travel a straight line. It weaves and ducks, it leads then follows, strangles then caresses. It sneaks up like a storm on a sunny day. The tiniest scent, a flash of memory, a habitual motion, phrase or task brings a sweeping wave wiping out all forward progress, sets back days, weeks, miles, back to the bottom of the pit.