It seems like so long since I have been in touch with you all, but hopefully this will bring us all back together because, quite frankly, I’ve missed you.
We all have reasons and circumstances in life that cause us to retreat. It doesn’t matter the source, because the reactions are much the same. For me, it has been several years (especially the past year) of dealing with a loved one who has Dementia and struggling to leave a church I’d been part of for over 20 years. Then my husband’s parents died just four days apart. Within a matter of weeks, things substantially declined with my dad and he ended up moving into a memory care facility which resulted in my mom (whom I love beyond words) moving in with my husband and me. To say it has made my heart wander and wonder would be an understatement, yet here I am doing it more than I could have ever dreamed.
Life is hard, and sometimes it seems we get beat up every time we turn around. On top of that, people can also be mean, unkind, selfish and even narcissistic, including ourselves at times, which is why it’s so important to be able to reflect and take a look inward to see how we are contributing to the situations in which we find ourselves. I am learning (more slowly than I’d like) there are times when you just have to step away. When reality slaps us in the face, sometimes we have to be willing to let go of expectation. That’s something I’ve never been able to do very well because I am not a good “leaver” no matter the situation. When I was younger, I couldn’t have anticipated how much pain that trait would cause me over the course of my life. There is a fine line between believing or hoping for the best in someone and subjecting yourself to continual heartache, bullying or abuse.
When you find yourself in a situation that makes you feel as though you are on the outside of something, whether it is a job, relationships, church or anything else, there are always things you can do to try and regain your footing. The struggle that comes with finding your footing is that sometimes it may require you to step somewhere else. THAT is something with which many of us are not comfortable. Stepping out of what we want into the reality that exists means we have to let go, give up, and be willing to experience the loss and grief that comes with doing so. Peace doesn’t come easy in these kinds of seasons in life. When you are between a rock and a hard place, even if only by perception, it is painful no matter which way you turn. But it’s also in that terribly lonely place that you are forced to look at what you are willing to do to be free.
As a person of faith, I have struggled with what to do or where to be. I believe God has a plan for each of our lives, for my life, and yet I get discouraged or feel like giving up just like many of you. Having faith doesn’t mean we don’t experience times of discouragement, rejection or even utter despair at times. It doesn’t mean we won’t get tired or feel lonely. Jesus himself experienced these same things when He was walking on this earth. Our emotions aren’t sinful; they are human, but it’s what we do with our emotions that’s important.
They say confession is good for the soul, so I have to tell you that as I was writing this post, I was interrupted by a song I’d never heard before. It was validating, comforting, and convicting all at the same time. The song is called “Ordinary Love” by the Jim Brady Trio, and the words of the chorus have been echoing in my mind over and over. “Ordinary love, a love that winds its way through common conversations and simple acts of grace, ‘cause no one needs a superstar and no one need a saint. We need someone to just show up with ordinary love.” As I sat here listening to the song over and over, I first nodded in validation we all need that kind of love, yet I’ve been fighting the oppressive sadness of feeling left out, unimportant, and insignificant. My world has been feeling increasingly small and lonely until it finally takes too much effort to even say anything anymore. Then as I continued to listen, I felt the tears streaming down my face at the comfort those lyrics were bringing, because no matter how I am struggling or how silent it feels, I am so grateful for the few people who show up every single day in my life with “ordinary love.” They put legs on their intentions without prodding or having to ask for it. Then as I continued to hear those lyrics over and over, my heart began to be convicted about how important it is for me to just keep on walking where God has called me and to love people the way I always have…with all my heart…in the little ways that matter.
When life gets so overwhelming and you can’t breathe, sometimes it is the smallest acts of grace and kindness that get you from one day to another or from one breath to the next. Yes, there are things we must let go of to move on, and sometimes those things are deeply painful and even wounding to our hearts and spirits. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t let go of things, people or even our expectations; it just means it’s going to take some time to heal as a result of doing so. We simply need to step back and listen to that still, small voice inside, and then walk on as peaceably as possible down the path ahead, even if the ground is stained with our tears as we move along.
If you are in a season of your life filled with feelings of isolation, insignificance discouragement or despair, you’re not alone. Yes, it’s hard, and yes, it may be time for big changes within your heart that lead to changes elsewhere. Just remember, that even as you are trudging through each step right now, be kind in your silence. Be strong in your fatigue. Be gentle in your frustration and disappointment, and choose to still fill the world around you with ordinary love.