Man we’re hard on ourselves, huh?
Our bootstraps are cracked and tearing at the stitches from all that tugging.
What’s almost comical to me, is that we’re all doing it, and we all know we’re doing it — fakin’ it till we make it.
I sat on an airplane today and studied the face of our pretty flight attendant. She couldn’t have been over 26 or 27. Her hair had perfect Pinterest carmel balayage. She was thin but not too thin. Her smile revealed either great genetics or a fantastic orthodontist. She somehow made a navy skirt suit and pantyhose look not-so-dowdy. But wouldn’t it have been flat-out foolish for me to say that she probably never had hurt? Lost? Ached? Cried? Grieved? Of course it would.
Because we all have.
We’ve all worn black and sat somberly at a funeral.
We’ve all felt unloved from someone who was supposed to love us.
We’ve all gotten a ‘no’ when we prayed for a ‘yes’.
To varying degrees and some more than others, but we’ve all hurt.
Why is it embarrassing to talk about? Why is it awkward to cry?
I cry all the time. Like, all the time. But, I still get weird about it.
Yesterday I was snuggled on a love seat with a pal’s three-year-old who smushed herself into the crook of my left arm while I flipped the pages of the book of her choice with the right. That book was “The Giving Tree” and damnit if I didn’t cry halfway through all the way to the end. (SHEL SILVERSTEIN YOU JERK.)
But it was more than the tree giving all it had to an ungrateful little boy, a simply sketched picture of Jesus. It was the toddler in her swishy sundress and long strawberry blonde hair tucked in by my side. It was the fact that in that same sunroom where we sat and read, her daddy had breathed his last breath just a few months ago.
All legitimate reasons to get teary-eyed – and yet still I made awkward jokes and made fun of myself to my friend sitting across from me, making sure she knew that I knew my tears were unnecessary.
Why did I do that?
It happened again on the plane today.
Praying for a friend whose dad died last week while listening to some slow-building, pretty raw worship songs, and I felt the back of my eyelids get wet there in my aisle seat on flight 306 to Dallas.
I batted my lashes like a butterfly having a seizure, not wanting the aforementioned pretty flight attendant to think there was anything wrong.
What would be so wrong if I cried and someone saw?
If someone asked how we were doing and we said “Not so great today.”
Ellen Degeneres in an old standup show said “Because if we ask someone how they’re doing and they say anything other than “Great” or “Fine” than that means we have to have an actual conversation, and frankly I don’t have the time.”
I wonder if that’s true … it’s not so much that I’m uncomfortable with my tears or sorrow, but that I’m uncomfortable with the thought of making someone else uncomfortable?
So we keep our smiles on and our conversations about the weather or the lawn or how cute Chip & Joanna Gaines are.
Meanwhile, we’re all hurting. At some point. To some degree.
And we don’t know how to talk about it, we don’t know how to listen about it, and we don’t know how to let others listen or talk about it.
And as I sat there talking to God about my friends and the death that was tearing their hearts out – here’s what I heard:
We need to quite acting like there’s a solution or a way to ‘be better’ on a quick timeline. We need to start by showing ourselves and others a whole lotta grace and we gotta start getting real. God will show up and we should be on the lookout for His good work and presence, but we should also acknowledge pain as painful.
That doesn’t mean there’s never any good or any celebrating, of course there is!
But when are we going to start living out the relationships God intended? Relationships that echo Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
I want to celebrate with you!!! But I don’t only want to celebrate with you. Because that’s not doing life together. I want to hurt with you (even if it’s awkward … or if I’m awkward … and even if I don’t do a great job at sitting in the mud without offering a solution or cliche or platitude), but I don’t think that in the entirety of our time on this side of heaven we’ll only hurt. I want us to do both. I need a tribe that will do both. I have a God that TELLS US to do both.
There’s a strange phenomenon of unspoken timelines and unspoken ratios.
While I don’t have the exact numbers hammered out, we give each other a certain amount of days/weeks/months to ‘be sad’ before we expect whatever it was to be ‘gotten over.’ For every 1 real, raw, hard, sad thing we say or share, we try to overcompensate by shouting 10 or 11 fun, happy, good, great, grand things!
(Don’t believe me? Take a peek at your instagram.)
And as I prayed, and cried, on the plane – I envisioned the beginning of it all… God’s sweeping beauty in the Garden of Eden and His slow strolls with Adam & Eve.
He didn’t make them with intentions for death or divorce or cancer or miscarriages or heartbreak or car wrecks or affairs or abuse.
If they weren’t made to carry those burdens, we certainly weren’t.
It’s the brokenness of the world we live in compounded constantly by the brokenness of each generation that shifted everything. And our bootstraps are not enough to carry the weight of a world spinning counter-clockwise to the beautiful plan of wholeness and holiness that it’s Creator designed.
As you hurt, give yourself the grace to hurt. Because it’s hard when you were never meant to be sinned against or lose the love of a spouse or have a child run away.
You don’t have to paint on a grin.
We’ll dance and sing and throw confetti when rays of heaven shine through, but if you’re in the valley – you don’t have to lie about how it feels on the mountaintop.
If you’re crying, you don’t have to pretend it’s allergies.
When death comes knocking, we can crawl into God’s lap and ask Him to hold us as His heart breaks too.
This week let’s answer honestly. When someone asks “Hey, how ya doing?” tell them how you’re doing. When you ask someone how they’re doing, lean in to really listen.
When tears are shed, sidle up and hold them tight.
When joy springs wild, breathe deep of it’s goodness.
C’mon friends, let’s get real.
I don’t want to feel better.
I don’t want to feel good.
I want to feel it hurt like losing someone should.
I’m gonna let my heart break.
I’m gonna let it burn.
I’m gonna stake my claim with the flame I know it hurled.
Run baby run, don’t you know I’ve tried?
But escape is a waste, ain’t no use in hiding.
You know the best way over’s through.
So if it matters let it matter.
If your heart’s breaking let it ache.
Catch those pieces as they scatter.
Know your hurt is not in vain.
Don’t hide yourself from the horror.
Hurt today, here tomorrow.
If it’s fragile and it shatters.
Let it matter, let it matter.