Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Hard Work (And You Might Die Trying)

And all at once the crowd begins to sing
We'd never know what's wrong without the pain
Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same

~"All at Once" by the Fray


Many of us have experienced loss. And if we haven't yet, it's probable that one day we will. We lose friends and family to devastating illnesses. We lose people whom we thought were our entire lives. We lose precious possessions. Perhaps, as we age, we even lose memories. And when we lose something, our entire being craves to get it back, to hold onto it. We've often been told that time will help us get over our loss, that with the advent of time, pain will go away.

Well, that's not true. I've written before about how that isn't true.

Nothing will make our loss hurt less grievously if we are unwilling to let it go. All the time in the world will not help so long as we cling to our corners of the altar, thinking in this way that we can escape the death penalty. We don't realize that King Solomon is standing by and he will order Joab slaughtered nonetheless. We have confused ourselves with Adonijah and think we may be shown mercy.

Some people, perhaps those who grieve less fiercely, may indeed be pacified by time. Their hurt will be ameliorated. And for the rest of us? What shall we do?

Well, we shall work.

It is hard work. It is painful work. It is work that may involve cutting connections with all that reminds us of our loss. It is work that may have us doubling over in pain and choking on tears. It is work that may involve spending time in a therapist's office. It is work that may have us shouting in anger at God, our parents, our friends, anyone and no one. It is work we desperately want to avoid and want to pretend isn't necessary. It is not forgetting- for who can forget that which made them who they are? It is assigning it its proper place, refusing to allow it to murder our chances for a future.

And Satan insidiously whispers in your ear, telling you that this work is a desecration, a trampling of all that you had and loved. He wants you to remain in this pit of gloomy darkness, lost within the caverns of your mind forevermore. So long as you are there, you cannot be elsewhere and so long as you are there, you can do nothing but mourn. You are paralyzed by your mourning, living your life in homage to this shrine of memory, caught fast within bonds that you lovingly kiss.

You may even believe that to leave this cave, to choose not to live your life in homage to memory, as a sacrifice to what was, you are acting in a cowardly fashion. You have chosen something lesser, something less meaningful and valuable instead of that godliness you had once known.

But that's a lie.

It will not feel like a lie. Indeed, your body will scream, protesting the betrayal you advance by bending it to your will, by making those feet step out into a terribly uncertain future. It will feel like a truth and only your mind and the strength of your will can assure you that it is a lie.

Because anything which holds you hostage, which forbids you a future, which consigns you to a life lived only in pain, a life of loss and unhappiness, cannot be what God wishes for you. Instead, your mandate is to work harder, to attempt to overcome, to move forward. And you must do this of your own will- not simply stepping onto the rollercoaster- but building your vehicle, engine by wheel by accelerator.

It's hard work and you might die trying but at least you died reaching for the light.

The bravest people you'll ever meet- and there are none braver than these- are the ones who do what must be done even though they are scared to death, even though they don't want to do it, even though they aren't even sure if the results will be worth it. They're the soldiers who walk into battle, the firefighters running into a burning house, the people who override their internal scream for self-preservation with their minds and insist that their task is more important than their fear. And you don't have to be a soldier or a firefighter to be one of these.

Choosing to move forward beyond what you know and crave, what is safe and familiar and loved, loved sometimes even if painful, is the choice to reach for the light. It's the hardest thing there is.

And you are stronger than you know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength."

-August Wilson

I've always admired people willing to recognize, work, and reach. It takes an indomitable will to grow. Beautiful post. Really.