Each person has to define brave for themselves, the speaker said last night at a church event I attended with my dearest sister-friend Meghan, who had come in for the event and to spend the night at my house. I have friends who have been brave in staying in their marriages. I have friends who have been brave in believing in themselves enough and what no one else thinks that they leave their marriage. Jesus is in the business of saving souls, not always marriages.
Tears trickled down my cheeks, and as I wiped them from my face with one hand, Meghan leaned over and reached for the other hand. And we just sat, hand in hand.
Gawd, this week has been hard for me; so very full of shame and grief. As the court date nears to finalize the divorce, I’m finding all kinds of emotions surfacing. This specific weekend my house seems extraordinarily empty without Bells. And it turns out, that when you’re an adult you can be going through a divorce and also have other adulty-things to manage and navigate and so my heart is heavy. Like really heavy.
And so, after the event, standing in the middle of my kitchen, I shared, I don’t know what healing looks like. I used to think it was to be restored to my prior state, to when I felt less brokenny but I’m coming to learn that my state was, is and will always be broken - in need. And I can’t go back to what was. And so I’m trying to figure out what healing means to me. That is, what does it look like to heal? I said all this (and a whole lot more) and Meghan just politely pointed out the fact that I was standing in the middle of my house, my arms flailing, and my pants completely unbuttoned as I had been mid-the-hard-work-of-getting-skinny-jeans off when breaking out into my tangent.
We eventually slid into our cozy pajamas, grabbed our Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and curled up on the couch to continue sistering into the wee hours of the night.
Do you want my king bed or Bella’s twin bed? I inquired. I’ve been sleeping on the living room floor by the fireplace this week anyways.
I’ll just sleep on the couch, she smiled and advised.
As I made my way over to the fireplace, I laid my head down on my pillow and pulled my little blanket up over my shoulders, my feet exposed .
YOU DON’T EVEN USE A SHEET OR ANYTHING? Meghan said in a tone like that a mother would use to express both concern and a tiny bit of anger (like when a mom says to her child in the dead of winter, where’s your coat?) DO WE NEED TO GET YOU LIKE A TWIN-SIZED AIR MATTRESS OR SOMETHING?
I giggled and noted, I’m good. It’s weird. I know. I just. It just works right now. It’s enough.
We woke like two little girls who had just completed a slumber party and picked up right where we left off. Late morning, we packed up her car, hugged and sent Meghan on her way back home.
But since Meghan left, I haven’t been able to move. Not really. I showered (which I told myself was winning). I managed to drink a cup of coffee, eat wheat thins and a few oreos.
I told myself to do something. But then I told myself that the only reason I would do something is to hide my pain. That the doing would just mask all that was buried, begging for a quiet, safe space to breathe and be let out. So I listened to my soul. Today has been a day of giving the grief space to live.
I told myself I’d let myself nap. I’m a horrible napper. Especially since I filed for divorce. Napping feels less like a pleasantry and more like survival.
But then I woke to this text from Meghan: Snuck this picture this morning before you woke up. I’m not sure if it will make you sad or if you’ll think it’s beautiful. I like it.
(it's the photo above)
I sat up, and the grief deep down that had been stuck, unable to work itself out, broke free and my heart sang. I wept. And weeping to me is your soul singing.
This is it, I thought. This is courage. This is being brave.
Courage is not the absence of fear; but the belief in something greater. Sis sent me this quote early on after I filed. It is something that now guides my every day, not just for my marriage but for all that I do and seek.
I don’t yet know what healing looks like for me.
But I now know what courage looks like for me.
I used to think I wasn’t a brave person. That brave people are people with swords and shields, they are sky-divers and martyrs.
Not me. I wasn’t brave.
But here it is. My definition of brave, here is my courage. My belief in something greater; therein lies my strength. And it is one night sleeping on the floor at a time. One belief in something greater at a time. One tear, two tears, a night of weeping at a time. It is one day at a time.
Today, maybe you have this deep sense there is something greater. Maybe you are scared of what it might take to attain it. I get it. Gawd, I get it. But a year ago I thought that taking a step out of the boat, into unknown dark waters, might actually be worth my safe, sinking boat. And so I braved-on.
Be bold and courageous. My dad used to say this to me all the time growing up and to this day I still get texts from him speaking this over and into me.
And this entire week, I can’t stop hearing God whisper, I am with you wherever you go.
I trust this truth for you too, you know. That the God of the universe, the God that “lit the stars” and formed the depths of the seas is with you and with me. So brave on, yes?
And if your bravery requires Oreos like mine does, just let me know or send me your address. I will bring you some personally. If you live miles away, I’m not scared, I am making really good friends with the post-officey people, and I’d be so very happy to mail you some.
To being brave.