I don’t like conflict. Which is a bit surprising considering how strong my opinions are about virtually everything – except what to have for dinner. I never seem to have enough of an opinion to make a decision about that. Why is it so hard to decide what to feed the people every.single.day??
But that isn’t my point. — Stay on track, Jenn. —
The point is — in spite of my strong opinions, I don’t like conflict. Turmoil. That anxious feeling churning in my stomach. Pain. Waiting in the Unknown. I want to rush through it all.
Do you feel like that? I’m sure I’m not the only one.
I want to get to the After. To the part when I look back on the lessons learned. When the story is finally funny. When it all makes sense.
The whole time my ex-husband was really sick and maybe dying, I kept notes and was drafting the story of how it all worked out for good. So I’d be ready to tell the awesome tale one day. I was thinking ahead to the After part the whole time it was happening.
When my marriage was falling apart, I was feeling the pain and the disappointment and the brokenness of it all – of course. But I was tempering that by thinking ahead to what an amazing testimony it would be after God redeemed the whole mess — at first with thoughts of how God would miraculously heal the marriage, then with thoughts of how God would heal us individually and use our story to help others. I didn’t want to feel all the bad feelings, so I softened them with anticipation of a tidy, happy ending.
For a really long time, my favorite Bible verse was Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I still find comfort in this verse, in the idea that God redeems everything for my good.
So my tendency is to look for the good, for the ways things are working out for everyone’s well-being, for the silver lining. My tendency is to skate across the surface of the pain, hoping to slide to the other side where it’s safe and the good of it all will be obvious.
Honestly, sometimes this serves me well. A positive attitude can certainly be beneficial. But sometimes positivity can be toxic. That whole “good vibes only” thing can not only be annoying, it can be truly unhealthy.
Sometimes it’s important to sit in the pain and fear and churning turmoil and feel those feelings. It’s healthy to let ourselves be sad, to let ourselves grieve. And haven’t we all had so much to grieve this last year?
Grief moves at its own pace – a pace that isn’t the same for any two people. It’s healthy to let grief do its work in its own timing, feeling all the feelings along the way.
If we let it, growth can happen in the conflict and tension, in the grief and groaning. But not so much if we slide over it and rush getting to the other side. We have to stop and be still — steep in the sadness and struggle.
And in due time, we’ll get to the part where it all works for good, to the part when it becomes a great story. But growth can’t be hurried. Grief can’t be hurried. Redemption takes time.