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Some things about surviving these days.

Some 5 or so years ago, I wound up in the ER on a Sunday afternoon with what appeared to be the first signs of TMJ. My jaw ached and my ears hurt, and every once in a while a sharp stabbing pain would run up the side of my neck. It was, in retrospect, a really stressful time–I had just left a job I loved because I couldn’t figure out how to balance both the needs of that job and the needs of my preschool-aged Curly Girl. I was profoundly sad over this, even though I knew it was the right decision. And, as all that was unfolding, I was also beginning to realize my marriage was doomed.

I know now that I don’t have true TMJ. I do grind my teeth and clench my jaw when I am stressed or on guard or feeling particularly burdened. And every time, the pain runs up the side my neck and sometimes down into my shoulder–a reminder that it’s time to engage in some radical self-care.

My mom’s in town, doing her amazing-Neana-tricks of making things run smoothly and spending some special time with her oldest grandchild, and also remaking a room of our house into CG’s bedroom (because the girl has decided she is grown enough to move upstairs, away from right next to Mommy’s room and into some bigger space of her own–gah!!). And last night, she caught me grimace as I felt that shoulder/neck pain make its presence known.

It’s been a long couple of weeks. Most of it amazing and well-worth the long hours at school for the girl and at work for me. But some of it painful–people I love in the midst of difficult things and my own ache over the discord and anger and sadness that continues to plague our nation.

There is, eventually, no hiding from the things that bear down on us. Sooner or later they rear their heads. I was reminded of this Sunday as I watched one of my church members grieve, quietly shedding tears during a moment of song, and another one wiping away emotion as she joined one of our elders for prayer after the service. I sensed, somehow, that the room was full of pain and sorrow–I have no proof of this just a feeling that for some reason, that particular morning, people were really feeling their brokenness.

Maybe their shoulders hurt, too. Maybe their jaws ache, too. 

Y’all, we are carrying so much in these days. It is so, so hard to figure out how to maintain a sense of stability and peace when everything seems to be in chaos. When social media hot takes and political firestorms dominate the news. When our families are hurting. When relationships fall apart. When anger fills our souls. When we’re grieving shattered dreams. When we fear for our children’s lives in a world that seems hellbent on destruction and heartache. If there were ever a time to remember that we are each carrying the pain of things hidden, of hopes dashed, of things lost, and so, treat each other with caring kid gloves, well…this is it.

I have no clear answers for a way forward, but I suspect it hinges on a few things that I have tried mightily to focus on in the last several months:

  1. Just because there is too much information (yes, too much) information accessible to us, we do not have to engage in it all. It is okay to step away from the news. Okay to disengage from the toxicity that is Twitter. Okay to binge Friends on Netflix for one afternoon because good-god-everything-was-so-simple-that-first-season. I believe in being informed. I believe in engaging in our democracy. I do not believe in clickbait, social media arguments, internet trolls or hiding behind the facades of our keyboards as we mercilessly pick apart those who do not agree with us.
  2. Loving your tribe hard is sometimes the best medicine. It’s a big ol’ world out there, and it’s freaking scary somedays. It’s also beautiful. And the most beautiful parts of my world are the people and places where I know belong. I mean really belong. Friday night bourbon and Chinese food and Big Bang Theory reruns. Saturday morning curled up watching a movie with my girl. Sunday morning singing. Long phone calls with dear friends. Hold on tight to these moments, my friends. Do not, for one second, take them for granted. Let them fuel you. Heal you. Remind you that you matter and that your story is an essential one.
  3. Believe in something bigger than yourself. The fate of the world does not rest on your next brilliant thought or attempt at problem-solving. It just doesn’t. It’s so much bigger than that. And, I believe, with everything I am, that the forces of good triumph the forces of evil–eventually. I stake my life on Harry Potter triumphing. On Diana Prince stomping Aries. On Leia and Rey and Han and Luke upending the dark side. On Love winning. I also, believe, as Luke Bryan sings these days, that “most people are good.” I know–you think I’m being Pollyanna here. And I guess that’s your prerogative…but my hope for this world and her people is much deeper than that. Much broader. Much more fierce. And is not based in some blind optimism, but a dogged belief that we were created in Love, and so, that love will always–eventually–win.

Also?

  1. Practice kindness. Listen first. And love harder.
  2. Practice kindness. Listen first. And love harder.
  3. Practice kindness. Listen first. And love harder.
  4. Repeat every damn day of your life.

Last Sunday afternoon, I watched as my daughter and 29 of her classmates celebrated–with pizza and cake!–a successful run of their production of Seussical the Musical, Jr. On the second floor of a local pizza joint, in perfect harmony, they sang, a capella, the ensemble pieces from their show. No one told them to do so. No one directed them. They simply sang. From the depths of their little hearts. And I thought, “There it is. Right there’s the beauty. Right there is reason enough to believe that all is not lost.”

Look, I know–it’s scary. And we’re all fraught with grief and anxiety and stress. So please…take care of yourselves. And each other. And trust that you are not alone. That you are loved.

The point of this life is not to show up all perfect and shiny and new. It’s more like stumbling in broken, feeling like we’ll never be okay again, wondering what our place in this world could possibly be…and then, if we’re lucky, finding some folks who will help us see that while there is no perfection, there is wholeness. There is feeling our hearts beat again. There is walking with each other through the madness, so that we can drink in the goodness together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Some things about surviving these days.

  1. Love this!

    On Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 12:05 PM, Someone Stole My Coffee wrote:

    > jerich75 posted: “Some 5 or so years ago, I wound up in the ER on a Sunday > afternoon with what appeared to be the first signs of TMJ. My jaw ached and > my ears hurt, and every once in a while a sharp stabbing pain would run up > the side of my neck. It was, in retrospect, a r” >

  2. This blog pops up every so often in my email. I always find that it speaks to my heart. Your words could be my words. Your blog reminds me to remember the words every day.Thanks for your reassurance. Thank you!

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