I kicked my feet into the air and pressed my back into my yoga mat, hoping to dissolve into the floorboards of the church basement.
I took a deep breath in. “The Lord is my shepherd.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that famous chapter in Psalms. I’m pretty sure I could recite it without any effort of memorization.
Exhale. “I lack nothing.”
But that wasn’t the case over a month ago. If you had asked me 6 weeks ago, I was lacking everything. I was in the throws of a delayed grieving process and pulled all of my emotions into a month long tornado of wreckage.
After not traveling for 7 months, I went to visit family and came back to my soul finally reached a breaking point. We could only run for so long and the my time was up. I’m not really sure when or how it started, but I began the grieving process. And guys, I grieved hard and loud.
I grieved the loss of my passion and calling.
Of my self worth.
Of my identity.
And I bought into some serious lies.
Lies that I was never truly good at ministry.
Lies that people thought I was poisonous.
Lies that God told everyone to abandon me.
And the loudest lie of all, that I had failed.
I had spent so much time running from these thoughts and emotions, and the process of grief as a whole, but we can only run for so long.
It began to spill over on I95. I had reached out to every person I knew for a week and only to be met with rejection. Because summer and people are busy, which actually was the hardest reminder since this was my first summer in 15 years not going to camps. I drove up and down the interstate, crying and yelling. (Did you see the Meryl Streep yell on this season of Big Little Lies? Yeah, that kind of yell.) I turned up a worship album and argued with it, as if trying to convince Kirby Kaple that God is not actually good at all and her song was a complete and total lie (aw, it’s not, it’s really a delightful song).
Grief can be really ugly. It can be really beautiful, but if you try to suppress it, it can get messy. A wise friend was overjoyed when I finally allowed myself to feel something and cry. She watched me avoid conversations for months in fear that I would burst into tears or feel something at any moment. Each time we sat down, she told me “the only way out of this pain is through” and so I repeated those words in the gas station parking lot that night.
The only way out is through.
I did the things you’re supposed to do to take care of your mental health that next morning, especially in the midst of grief.
I scheduled counseling appointments.
I told friends I needed help (like, just invite me over for dinner or call me and tell me about your day, because sometimes that’s what “help” is).
I went to lunch.
I allowed myself to cry and feel.
And I listened to good words.
I filled my head with books and podcasts and sermons that did not pretty things up.
And I set out on a journey to find a church (Ok, one day I’ll write a whole series on this because oh my word, why didn’t you guys tell me how hard that is? Finding a church is hard if you don’t work at a church).
I also tried a new yoga class that involved prayer, scripture, and meditation.
I cried through the entire first class, as I attempted to open up a healthy line of communication between me and God. You know, one where I am not crying and calling Him a liar. Because grief.
Which brought me to this mat and me staring at my feet, straight above me head, in a mixed glow of street lights and candles.
I heard “you have met this season of restoration with a spirit of resistance”. I thought to myself “wow, I wonder how the instructor knew that”. But she didn’t. And she actually didn’t say that at all. But I heard it loud and clear.
Once you allow yourself to go through grief, you get to start the refining process of restoration. I am in that season. I am crushed and bruised within my soul and faith, but not beyond repair and not abandoned. I have resisted the process because I didn’t want to feel it. I didn’t want to face the lies that I had bought into. I didn’t want to face the hurt and rejection I was feeling or the loss of identity. I wanted to run hard and fast away from all of it.
But when we run, we grow weary. We need rest. We need to be restored into a more whole version of ourselves, especially after we have been hurt or have dealt with loss.
And we need to know loss looks different for everyone. I kept telling myself I didn’t need to grieve because I didn’t lose a person. But I lost who I am and sometimes that’s just as tough to come back from.
I think this process is teaching me a lot (it is very much a present tense thing, I’m still learning and grieving and battling some lies). But I think the process to even get to restoration has so much beauty. And at the end of the day, God’s goodness and love will follow me all the days, even when I try to run from it. There’s no valley too dark for Him to walk with me in.