A Right to Process


This post is about sadness. Honestly. 

  These days I would consider myself a joyful person, stable even, full of adventure and life. However, this last week I found myself in a space that I felt ashamed of. Probably because there isn’t a whole lot of space to be sad in this society, people don’t show their grief. And so we silently bear loads that were not meant to be carried alone. 

This sadness, or even depression, was like a hole that I could not crawl out of. A fog or a bad dream.  The haze has cleared and I can see again, but everything in me writhed to be out of the place I was occupying inside my heart. It was a darkened lens. Nothing was good enough, and encouraging words felt either like frustrating impossibilities or condescending suggestions.

I think, upon reflection, the kindness to myself was in how very hard I tried to encourage my own heart. How I tried to find the hope I know to be true in God. How I was still mother and wife (all be it, not my most shining version). How I fought my hardest to escape the place my mind was stuck in, like a swamp of muddy quicksand.

And this is how some people live all the time. There is no compassion that exists apart from empathy. To know darkness and grief is truly meant to lift others out of their own. I know when I was younger I struggled often with feelings of hopelessness, but have since found my way out into great hope and healing. However, this revisiting was a stark contrast and a reminder that many live with a veil about their hearts, and they can not see out. I have loved friends who simply could not cope with such darkness. 

I am grateful for a clear view after some sleep, some prayer and some friends to process with (lets not forget the acupuncture appointment, body work really does help). My own conclusion is that process is just that… process. 

The heart knows what it must expel. It knows when it has been crossed or grieved or misled. And it knows that if it does not purge, then we are in danger of storing that pain. A process cut short or cut off is like a clogged artery. Something will give eventually. 

There is no quick way around it, and often the quick feeling remedies only prolong it (sugar, alcohol, any distraction really). Who knows why the pit felt so deep, why such small circumstances felt so big. Bigger than life. Why I often return to the same points of contention when I am sad or feel hopeless. But there is always a wider view available,and it is sure to come if I just have faith and wait. 

 I awoke with a sliver of hope that I had forgotten. Reminded that every step does matter and does, in fact, take me somewhere. That my efforts make some ripple in the waters we all swim in, it is all too easy to feel that they don’t. I am reminded that there are good things in front and on either side. I am, again, excited to work toward something, not overwhelmed by impossibilities or burdened tasks. Just a childlike excitement of creativity. Something I know I must hold tight to.

The phrase, “fight for joy”, was kindly suggested. At the time, in my heart of hearts, I truly felt I had fought all the fight I had in me, and was still drowning. So the suggestion was beautifully intended, but just felt overwhelming to me. Probably because in my heart the question was:

What does that even mean?

Is there an equation to joy?

It almost felt as if I was not permissed to give myself the space for sadness or grief. Certainly there is a place to stand up in the face of it all and be thankful, to remind my heart who God is, to carry on. But one must have the right to process. 

Maybe ‘fight’ is a misleading word. Does joy not have more to do with childlike receptivity, a deep knowing that God is good? The kind that is in my heart and not just my head? This can only be known and discovered inside of process, In being okay with the barrage of emotions, sadness and frustration. In not judging why I feel this way or scratching around for a reason. God is always sure to give us what we must know about it. 

It is a walking through to the other side, or maybe just waiting it out sometimes. Not trying to fill it. Just crying out, being completely naked and honest before God. Waiting on Him. I think everything else might just be a bit shallow. A bit less rooted. I have sat through many discomforts thus far and still live to say that He is good.