Posted on April 23, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek
Sometimes the only way out is through. (Anonymous)
There are so many things swirling in my mind right now, so much pain that lives close to the edge of my social mask I wear daily. I do my best to keep the pain at bay, forcing myself to smile and be grateful for the blessings of others. I try so hard to be grateful for the little things, like holding a newborn baby, seeing big puffy white clouds in the brilliant blue sky, and petting my cats’ furry bellies.
The truth is that today, dear reader, I am so lonely I can barely see straight. Even being around people has not helped because there is this thing between me and them. I do not know how to explain it, but it’s a barrier of sorts. I hear the words of others and make all the appropriate facial expressions one is supposed to make in order to lift my mood and elevate me, but it is not working. Again.
I do not know whether it is loneliness, depression, lingering sadness, grief, or hormonal fluctuations. I try not to figure it out because as Henri Nouwen once wrote “demons love to be analyzed” but let’s be clear, the grief is here.
So many things in my life have not turned out the way I planned them. I have so much to be grateful for and yet there are some very real things my heart desires that I fear will not come to pass. What is there to do? Where do I go when things are this intense?
I am lucky enough to have a found an anonymous blogger whose voice speaks to me and reminds me of the One who will never leave me but longs for my good, who is trustworthy, is aware of my struggles, and is transforming my heart. Many things that happened to me, that have shaped the woman I become are in the past. They no longer exist in the outside world but they linger on in my memories, both real and imagined.
My work, it seems, is to keep moving forward, to acknowledge the demons of despair but not to feed them. This is where the real work of transformation occurs.
It also calls me to trust God, and surrender all of me to Him. Radical trust. Radical grace. Radical acceptance of my life, just as it is today. What a tough concept to swallow when we live in a culture that admires instant gratification and self-focused living.
So I will say it again: today has been hard for a variety of reasons. Nine years ago my father died and left me to pick up the pieces of his unfinished life, and it hasn’t been easy. I have made some beautiful and terrible choices along the way, but I strive to keep on going, trusting that God is always supporting me and that this transformation is time-consuming, but will ultimately result in my freedom from despair.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. (Maya Angelou)
Nouwen, Henri. 2016. Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life. New York: Convergent.