Lesson #4) Learning to Live With Realistic Expectations
Hope and sorrow. Two words you never expect to tie together. They seem to be polar opposites, in fact. Some days the correlation between the two is very difficult to find. This has been the case for me in the last few weeks. Some days I am full of hope that I am making progress in this journey. Some days I believe that brighter days are ahead and we will get through this. Then the darkness seems to overwhelm. Something triggers a memory that brings the sorrow back. It’s like the knife is not just stuck there in my heart, but is twisting to make sure it hits as big an area as possible. Some days it feels I’m making progress and others it feels like I’ve taken giant steps backward.
I have these expectations of myself that are probably a bit unreal. Some examples include: If I were truly surrendered to God, I would not be hurting this much. If I really believed that God is taking care of me, I wouldn’t struggle when memories hit. Sometimes it is just telling myself I should be further along in my grief. I should be able to make small talk at family gatherings like I used to. Being in crowds shouldn’t bother me. Social settings shouldn’t bother me. Being away from home for a day shouldn’t bother me. I should not be so wrapped up in myself and my loss. The pangs of jealousy I feel at times should not be present. By now I should be past the anger. Maybe other people don’t want to hear about Lucy anymore. I should probably not talk about her because it makes other people uncomfortable or increases the pain I know they are still suffering. She was not just my little girl, she had a whole family that was excited to have her and I don’t want my grief, my sorrow, my dark moments to cause anyone else more pain. So I carry it myself. Well, at least the parts that I don’t emotionally dump on Jon (or my ride-to-work buddy).
Looking at it realistically, I think the expectations I have for myself are too high. God didn’t mean for me to carry this burden alone. There is a verse in Psalms that I have been meditating on.
Psalm 63:8 My soul follows close behind you; your right hand upholds me.
The thought always comes to me, “why the right hand?”. What is so important that the scripture specifies the right hand and not the left. I researched and found that the right hand represents strength. Usually that was the hand holding the sword in battle while the left was holding the shield. Spiritually speaking, when I am upheld by God’s right hand, the shield of faith is held in his left protecting me from the onslaught of fear and doubt. The very words of God are the sword of the spirit so that leaves his right hand free to hold me.
Since coming home from the hospital I have used exercise as a form of therapy. While on a walk the other day the sadness began to overwhelm me again. This scripture came to mind and it spoke to me. God brought me to this place. He allowed this loss to touch our lives. I know how big he is and that he does hold me in his right hand and I know that the shield of faith protects me. I need the very words of his mouth to go on the offensive and defeat these feelings that seem to overwhelm me at times. I know that ‘the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit….’ And I know that because of the faith I have in who God is, I can ‘approach the throne of grace with confidence so that I may receive mercy and find grace to help me in my time of need’. (scripture quotes from Heb. 4:12 & 16).
I still struggle sometimes. However, we are only 3 months into this journey of loss and grief. Realistically, what should I expect of myself? What does God expect of me? I’m not 100% sure. I do know that to take the first step, I just need to continue to get out of bed daily and breathe. To live each day the best that I can. And let God hold me when I can’t seem to take the next step.