I made it two houses down before the mighty wave’s shadow overwhelmed me. I could feel it ready to break. Tears started to leak out in anticipation of the pummeling to come.
My boys jumped and giggled loudly, straining their necks to see daddy’s iPhone, guessing where the next Pokemon might be. The sun peaked thorough bows thick with summer green on its slow decent toward the horizon. Everything glowed golden.
I still couldn’t fake a smile.
“Go home if you need to,” my husband offered. I turned back around ashamed I couldn’t squelch the sadness. I reached the front door and was swallowed.
* * *
I don’t know exactly why the tears fall so fat and fast.
I told Chris that my sadness is like the kind of wave that crashes hard upon the shore right after a long period of calm. Then as quick as it came and turned you upside down in its harsh, unexpected fury—it is gone.
Sometimes this grief thing makes me feel crazy. Beyond myself. Outside of myself. Out of control of myself. I so desperately want to control it. To stuff the sad, achy parts into boxes marked Happy, Content, Normal. I want to understand it away, explain the grief away.
I want my mind to bulldoze over for the mighty swells. Squash them into submission.
Call it grief, sweeping sadness, cyclical depression: whatever name I give it, treating it with a harsh, shoving hand doesn’t change it.
Stuffing it only has a jack-in-the-box effect. Eventually life will turn the crank of emotions enough times and that jack of sadness won’t have any choice but to spring forth in a torrent of tears
Same root. Different leaves.
I’ve mingled metaphors, but who’s judging? Writing is cathartic. Weaving words helps me find may way, catch my breath, through the swirling. The ocean has power to pummel with waves, yet it also has power to calm—its rhythmic song lulling me toward quiet grace.
This swell of sadness has receded. I don’t know how soon it will be back. But for now I am okay. Chris and the boys will be back soon from playing Pokemon Go, excited to divulge their stash of animated creatures.
Yes, for now I am okay.
* * *
That’s what I penned in my journal a few days ago in a moment of flooded despair.
Reading my own words now makes me feel a little crazy. Being fine, then not fine, and fine again. Reliving the helpless tumble in the unforgiving surf of sadness. I worry a little that in sharing this glimpse of my struggle, crazy will be your main takeaway about me. But I’ve decided, even if that’s the case, it’s okay.
Because I believe for at least one person these words will be a lifeline of hope.
A sign of understanding, a small assurance. If that one person is you—friend—lean in close. Hear me clearly:
I see you. You are not alone.
I am a blessed woman whose faith is built on solid rock, but that truth doesn’t stop the waves from crashing. My life is good. My God is great. Yet, be it due to current circumstances, past loss, heritage, or chemistry, I still go through moments, sometimes seasons, of feeling pummeled by pain I can’t always explain.
So this is what I want to say in case you need to hear it as much as I do:
Feeling pain does not negate your faith or good fortune. Being swept by sadness is not contrary to your stability or capacity. Your struggle does not trump your strength, or more aptly, God’s strength in you.
It is okay to weep.
A gracious friend recently told me it was brave to cry. To feel. To not stuff it. (In those sweeping moments it’s hard for me to believe her, but I’m usually up for a challenge.) She also said our tears usher in peace like a river. I cried hard and ugly across those journal pages, trying to get the sadness out, trying to feel whatever it was that needed feeling so the current of grief could ebb away.
My friend was right: through the tears…peace.
If you need someone to give you freedom today to cry for that bottled up pain or unnameable angst, consider yourself free, my friend.
Release each tear to Jesus.
Your circumstances might not change but I trust your heart will. Washed over by peace like a river.
Maybe like me, you fear that sadness is somehow un-Christian. That your tears reflect a lack of trust, your struggle a lack of faith-based strength.
When that fear and sadness mingle, I remind myself of this:
The brokenness of this world manifests in many ways. My life is not measured by my immunity to such brokenness, but by my surrender to the Savior whom I need because of it. Yes, I am measured by His grace.
You are measured by God’s boundless grace.
Sharing with the storytelling communities of Jennifer Dukes Lee and Holley Gerth.