Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Giving Yourself Grace

I see so many things about how anger or not forgiving hurts you the most.

Do you want to know a secret? Sometimes it is easier to be angry or mad than to deal with the pain. Sometimes you want to be mad because it means that it is ok for you to feel what you do for a while rather than to give into other peoples expectations that are often based in some fantasy pulled out of a poorly written 'uplifting' work of fiction.

And there's a certain honesty to admitting that. They haven't experienced it, we hope they never do. But it is so hard being expected to give grace so frequently to others as a grieving family when it isn't often extended both ways. I give grace so many times, to strangers who say oddball things, to people who post really hurtful things online (the cutesy ecards primarily), and to others that you hope would know better. At times I am just so worn out. It is a horribly dangerous minefield out there sometimes.

The bad thing about this journey is that it doesn't end in a year. You carry the burden on and get discouraged realizing that this is just the first kilometer of a marathon. You are afraid that if it feels the same, if it takes the same energy for the entire race, you won't make it. You are afraid you must be doing it wrong- after all, you are often told you are not by people on the sidelines who have often never ran a 5K.

Like a marathon, you have to learn that finishing isn't always crossing first. Sometimes it is learning to pace yourself and let the people running beside you that don't have weighted packs pass you just for a short stretch. It is pacing yourself, focusing on your goal, getting up when you stumble. It is running your best race.

Sometimes you have to give yourself grace first, before others give it to you (because many never will), before you give it to others. It is ok to feel this way. It is ok to cut out of events early, even though it has been over a year, it is ok to handle things in a way that feels honest to you- it is ok not to do the generic picture at family gatherings. It is ok to give yourself a break. It is ok to never return to normal expectations. At the same time it is ok to let yourself break from things that served you well early on in your grief but no longer work. Bind the new sores that pop up on your feet and keep going. Learn to pause before the rubbing turns into a sore and put on balm.

Once you give yourself permission, it makes it easier to deal with everyone else who doesn't. I think when you lock yourself into the expected you pull at the bits, and trust me, there's a lot of angry in grief to fuel it. Then you rebel and wind up floundering on your back, crushing more bystanders. Getting out of the expected allows more room for the genuine. It lets you rest a little to regain enough energy to let go of the angry and keep on your journey.

Then you accept that sometimes even when people hurt you deliberately, they aren't worth your hurt anymore. You let go of your expectations for them and accept the relationship that they are capable of.  Perhaps down the road they will grow a little and it can flourish again.

But I am still learning to cut myself slack.

Maybe someday I will run again with that easy fluid motion, even if the pack stays tight on my back. Maybe this pack isn't just crippling, perhaps my muscles are slowly building strength and I will fly when the day comes that it is finally removed. But mostly I think just taking another little step today and not giving up is all I need to continue on and eventually finish.... someday.

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.


  1. Thanks for sharing. My therapist told me a few sessions back that I needed to focus on grace. I didn't really understand what she meant, but now I do. Thank you

  2. When we expected to be holding our babies and we no longer are, it's easier to hold on to the anger and pain. I continue to be amazed at how clueless and hurtful others can be. As time goes on, I no longer allow new people "in". That's one of my survival mechanisms. I avoid talking to those who don't really know me...the new me. I refuse to give them a chance to say something well-meaning, yet hurtful. I still don't have the courage to tell others face-to-face how different life is now. Too afraid of their replies, I guess. So it's just easier to hibernate inside of myself. Don't get me wrong, I do share when I need to with a very chosen few. The innocent bystanders probably wonder what's wrong with me, but I'm not ready to let them get close enough to know me yet. I wonder if I ever will. Thank you for posting this, Katie. I have so many things that I've written in the last couple of years that I haven't posted on my blog. Maybe I'll start doing that again. You and your family continue to be in our thoughts and prayers...especially these next few weeks.