Do you ever wish life only offered lovely sunshine and little birds singing – you know, skipping the blizzards and buzzards of life?
But Life chuckles and says, “Blizzards and buzzards show up because easy moments alone won’t help you grow.” And I gotta agree. We can be oh-so stubborn, especially when it comes to enduring the hard stuff that stretches us from the inside, out. It’s like eating only candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tastes yummy going down, but all that sugar will ultimately cause cavities and a really bad tummy ache.
We often fight the hard moments, don’t we? And when something feels wrong, ill-timed, catastrophic or painful, we can find ourselves all shook up.
Case in point: For several weeks, my sister and I rotated long weekends, traveling to provide on-the-ground support while Mom was hospitalized. She’d fallen at home and, after a lengthy hospital stay, went to rehab. We befriended health care workers; and we challenged them, too. We took copious notes and stayed connected by texting updates to each other and to our brother in Germany. We advocated and pushed and stayed vigilant over Mom’s healing.
But 2 days after coming home from rehab, Mom closed her eyes and passed away. We loved Mom so much, and losing her physical presence just felt all wrong. For me, all the usual stages of grief followed.
I also felt lost for quite a while. Mine is a heart of service. Doing for others is my natural way of loving them. And, losing Mom suddenly meant I had to stop working so hard to “fix it.” Everything I was doing so fervently to help Mom return home and thrive came to a grinding halt. And it threw me completely off.
No more helping Mom heal? No more protecting her from anyone or anything that could impede her recovery? No more being there to give Dad some much-needed rest?
After being a busybody, I had to be still.
And, in the stillness, I was all shook up.
Why? I had unknowingly made a very wrong assumption: That the harder we worked at getting Mom home, the more likely we’d succeed. That, in this case, hard work would actually pay off.
And Mom did make it home. But, when she died 2 days later, it felt like a cruel, unexpected twist. And I felt like a failure.
In my grief, I resisted the truth: That I was not a miracle worker who could save my mom through sheer effort. That Mom’s body was simply tired, and it was her time. That, when it was needed, I had been where I needed to be, doing what needed to be done, to love and support her. And that that was honestly enough.
Thankfully, time – and renewed faith – takes care of everything. And after some time, I realized my resistance was useless. I was extending the pain unnecessarily, like picking at a wound. Eventually I waved the white flag of surrender. And, when I did, peace followed.
Do I still miss Mom? Of course. Do I regret all of my busyness to help her? Nope, not a single moment. But did her loss gift me with a lesson I obviously HAD to learn? Yes, it did.
I was reminded of that lesson 5 short years later when my ear was pressed hard to the phone, hearing my sister-in-law speak gentle, loving words to my brother as he passed away. They were 4,500 miles away in Berlin, so I couldn’t be in busybody helper mode. And, in that moment, I didn’t resist. I didn’t try to fix it. I let my faith take hold instead, prayed through my tears, and rode that watershed moment to acceptance. And peace sidled up next to me.
So, hard moments? I’ve been there. And, I’m learning that, in those moments, the question isn’t so much Why is this happening to me? Rather, it’s What is this hard moment teaching me?
What have you learned after being all shook up?