I Fear I'm the Bride You Give Back
When I found my counselor in New Zealand two years ago, I reached out to the one whose online bio said she specialized in grief and trauma - because I'm not a stranger to that. I had a really helpful call with her this morning as I processed the events of the past couple of weeks and evaluated my reactions and responses. Julie helped me intentionally choose those words as we looked at some of my unhealthy though human reactions and planned ways to think about healthier future responses. I've not done everything right in the past few weeks, and I've had to go back to a couple people and apologize for words or ways I behaved that were reactions in an intense moment of grief. As I'm learning to respond, I know that I can receive the gift of grace for my human mistakes and own up to them as I learn better patterns of responding when the next wave of grief hits.
One of the weird quirks I have is listening to songs on repeat when the lyrics resonate with a mood or lesson I'm learning. For reasons completely unrelated to Bryce, the song "Fantine" by Penny and Sparrow was on my random playlist, but I've kept it on repeat for much of the past two weeks. The minute and forty seconds is worth your time for the context of this post.
This haunting melody is named for the Les Mis character who makes incredibly difficult life choices which she is judged harshly for because she was hurt more than helped by others for most of her life.
I know these hurting people. They walk through the halls of BFA. Oftentimes their learned behaviors to prevent future hurt are to project hurt and harm others first. It's usually out of a devastating belief that they will inevitably be discarded by anyone they chose to be vulnerable with. My heart aches because we all fear this rejection at some level, and there is no way to know if you'll be rejected until you first have the courage to share. Brene Brown has a whole book on the power of vulnerability, and she says, "Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage." This does not mean broadcasting your biggest wounds on the internet; I made my apologies directly to the necessary people.
My counseling session covered a lot of ground, and we talked about how I'm free to receive grace and walk in peace through this grieving process. When I make mistakes, I acknowledge and own up to them and receive the grace offered in forgiveness by the Lord and fortunately often by others. The title of this post notes the fear articulated in the song that others might reject me, give me back, break relationship with me if they know my full humanity. I don't control the reactions of others, but I do know the character of the Lord, and because of that I will grow in the grace I extend to others when they share themselves with me. My counselor encouraged me that not only am I gifted to receive grace, but by extension grace overflows to others. Her meaning was secured in my heart when she repeated the words of Jesus: "Seek first the kingdom of God... and all these things will be added."
Her paraphrase of Matthew 6:33 reminded me to keep my eyes on Jesus. I'm not performing my grief for any of you, but I'm aware there are a lot of people watching. My goal is to be holistically healthy, and I would love for you to be the same. If I can be of any encouragement to you, let it be that I'm focused on listening to the Holy Spirit as I walk in absolute peace.
I wrote a poem-ish thing on Facebook last week as I was listening to "Fantine" and processing a piece of my own grief and praying for others who grieve different things than I do. At the time I was super struck the last line that says, "until I know I'm no better alone, I guess this is just what it takes" because my heart aches for those who isolate in grief instead of letting the body of Christ be part of their healing process. Another song that has had a recent season of repeat in my home is "Open Your Eyes" by Snow Patrol; that's an anthem of hope to me as I want to see others receive healing in the name of Jesus.
I alluded to this song in my post about Moana a couple weeks ago, but the poem-ish I wrote opened with the line "Sing to me 'Fantine' by Penny and Sparrow, and I’ll sing back to you 'Open Your Eyes' by Snow Patrol because I believe in a God of all hope..." The Snow Patrol song is full of hope as the voice longs to be a healer in the life of a hurt other. I want that kind of response in the face of overwhelming hurt. I want to be the person who sees others as more than their wounds when the person may be so identified in their own wounds they have lost sight of their identity. "Get up, get out, get away from these liars," the second verse begins. The singer then extends a hand to help lead the broken person into freedom. Into peace. Step into peace.
This may not fit the neat or clean narrative anyone has for me, but this is where I am today. As my friend Alyssa encouraged me last week, grieving well is not grieving clean. Also, as I googled that Brene Brown quote to make sure I got it right, I found this additional one by her that says, "People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses," and that resonated deeply with me because first of all, Randi Israel once called me a badass, and it's one of the highest compliments to know it's only the second time her children have ever heard her swear, and second, this is all uncomfortable for me to share right now, but I want this to be an empowered move to encourage others. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.