When The Heart's Ready
I sat staring at my computer screen as moisture blurred the words I was reading through tear-stained eyes. My body was curled in an obscure ball as I sat in my office chair - knees folded and arms wrapped tightly around my legs holding them close to my chest. Even my body was
guarding my heart - both from the existing pain of grief that seemed to surface out of nowhere and from the possibility of more pain facing that grief head on. It had been well over a decade since the loss of my marriage and since the mistake of trying to rectify that loss by giving marriage one more try. The heartbreaking prayer of my toddler each night had worn my mother's heart down as he prayed "Jesus please bring me a new daddy." During my efforts of doing the wrong thing for the right reason, we faced the worse possible loss of all. Shortly after my second marriage began, tragedy took the life of the man that was the source of all this grief. My baby's father wasn't just gone from our lives, but gone forever. The man that I had given my pure heart to so long ago was gone. There were no more chances to right the wrongs. Suddenly it didn't seem to matter who was at fault those years before. He had always had my heart.
In all these years, how was it possible that I had never realized my heart had not fully processed this trauma and tragedy? There was not one particular moment nor one person solely responsible for how I chose to walk this journey (or rather failed to walk it.) I couldn't really blame myself or anyone else. I did what people do - got on with the business of living - working, caring for my little boy, serving in my local church, the community, and contributing to family. There wasn't a roadmap for this journey of grief and honestly, as a single mother, I subconsciously felt that there was no time to walk it properly. My boy needed me. The rest would have to wait. Knowing what I know now, I simply had not been ready, and was completely unaware just how unready I was, to face my grief. Resiliency was something in my DNA or perhaps instilled in me as a strong southern woman. Giving in to grief and focusing on myself just seemed weak somehow, at the time.
I don't recall what brought grief to the surface that day. It could've been a photo or perhaps an article I had read. Maybe it had just been a rare moment of silence since I was home alone. I picked up the phone and called Mom. She checked on me every day to make sure I was "okay." Lots of folks checked on me and kept me busy in one way or another. I suppose they thought this would ease the pain. I thought it would too, but ironically it had only suppressed and prolonged it. As Mom and I talked, I told her I was going to turn off the ringer on my phone for a few days. While assuring her that I would be fine, I also let her know that if they had a crisis I would be there for them but not to call unless there was an issue. She and Daddy had been a godsend helping me with caring for my son Josh, and in helping me navigate a new "normal" of health issues that had overtaken me through pushing myself to the limit.
Over the next several days, I cried, I laughed, I prayed, I remembered, I slept, I fussed and fumed, I forgave and finally - I released it all... every emotion, pain, hurt, and memory. That somber cloud of darkness that had shrouded my spirit was replaced with a glimmer of light that opened the door to my heart like a key. There were no words in this writer's vocabulary to describe the plethora of emotions I felt at the end of this time of solace. Exhausted from it all, I rested in peace, not like one dying, but one ready to live. My heart, soul and mind were ready to live!
I wish I could say that this time in my life that I've shared with you put me on the path of a smooth journey forward in every way, but honestly, that isn't the way life is for any of us. I've had more heartbreak, faced times of navigating nightmares and funny fiascos. I've been both the worst and best of who I am and still managed to get up and try again each day, even if on some of those days I didn't recognize the girl in the mirror. Isn't that what life is about? We fall down, we get up, we laugh, we cry and we live! Think about your life and the lives of those close to you. We all face experiences that turn us upside down and inside out, and we can only face them as our hearts are ready to deal with them. Perhaps it is the loss of a loved one, or a job or career, poor health or struggling financial woes. Maybe it is a leap into the unknown or a new relationship, or birth of a child or of a dream that flips everything on its head. There isn't a "one size fits all" formula on how we deal with grief, change, loss or even love or success; and here's a revelation... none of us get it completely right - ever! We are frail human beings, living in an imperfect world, in need of a perfect Divine Love to help right our wrongs and help us be "okay with not being okay."
As I typed that just now, I thought about the weight of some very devastating circumstances I have faced over the last year. Goodness, there have been so many days when I was definitely not okay! Days when I wanted someone near to make it better and other days when I just wanted to be left alone. Being the social creature that I am, I have faced quite the challenge in turning my ringer off, ignoring text messages, and refraining from perusing my social media feeds. Yet, my heart knows what I am ready for and what I am not. That does not require anyone's permission or approval. Acceptance and patience of self and from others is paramount to a healthy heart ready for all that life brings.
Is it scary to let go? Of course! Is it frightening to reach out? Of course! Is it wrong to be lonely? Of course not! Is it wrong to want to be alone? Of course not! Each heart must deal with "matters of the heart" in its own personal way and on its own personal timeline. When your heart is ready, you will know. Don't allow anyone to pressure you, shame you, or deter you in heart matters. Take some time away from all the noise to listen to the whispers of your heart. Above all, be kind to yourself. This will go a long way towards being kind to others who, in their feeble attempts, are just trying to help. Should you not be the one struggling at present, my advice is the same - perhaps even more emphatic. BE KIND! We can never fully know what others are going through or their reasons for decisions they make or steps they take. Pressuring someone or pressuring yourself before your heart is ready, only brings more pain.
Our hearts are not just physically one of the strongest muscles in the body, but are emotionally and spiritually strong and resilient. When the heart isn't ready, nothing can move it. When the heart is ready, nothing can stop it!
"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." Proverbs 4:23