I used to think that I was someone that was resilient; I’d see the ‘silver lining’ in whatever came my way. I‘m realizing now, that I am less that way than I thought. It’s funny, you really don’t know you who are until you go through something hard. I feel like pain is a magnifying glass on you, allowing you to see who you really are. Unfortunately I have had ample opportunities to see who I am through this magnifying glass of pain. On some occasions, I haven’t minded what I saw. On others, I was saddened by what was revealed. But you see the older I get, the more okay I am with what is revealed. I am figuring something out: the only way to truly make a stride at getting better is to know what’s truly underneath. The really good news is that I am loved, warts and all, by my Heavenly Father. It has taken me a really long time to understand and get a grasp on this. I‘m a performer, presenting what I think people want to or need to see. I am the one that will go great lengths to hide what is truly going on in my heart. But the problem with pain is, it cuts away the pretend to get to the authentic. It allows you to see what is really going on and what is truly underneath it all. It also wears out your pretend muscle. You know, that muscle that you use to hide. It wears it out so that it no longer works. All that is left is you.
What I have learned about me through pain is this: I’m not as strong or as smart as I thought. I am not as self reliant and way more broken than I thought. The person that I lie to the most is me. I need others way more than I want to. Memorizing scripture doesn’t erase the pain that I am experiencing. The cliche things that I used to say just don’t seem to work for me anymore. It’s okay to feel.
I have also learned that I don’t have to always have it together. I don’t have to always say that I am fine. I don’t always have to force a smile if that is not what I am feeling on the inside. It’s okay if I need to lay in the bed for just another moment in order to garner the strength to face today. I don’t spend time with the Lord to check it off of a box, but to sit with my best friend and be reminded of who I really am.
You might be wondering where all these thoughts are coming from? What pain am I referring to?The reason all these thoughts are in my head is because I just passed the four year anniversary of my brother, Tony, being killed in a motorcycle accident. You know what, I am still very sad at times. Not all the time, but more than I thought I would be. I see my sons play together from time to time and it makes me both happy and sad. I am happy that my boys love each other. But I am sad because I had a love like that with Tony and now he’s not here to share it. This isn’t to takeaway from the relationship with my other brothers. Tony and I had something special. I didn’t have to say a word and he would know what I was thinking. He could call me out about something that was lacking and I could receive it.
The thing I’m missing most right now is Tony’s smile. It would be like finding a unicorn because it was rare with most people. But I could make it happen more often than not! I also miss his hugs; I do. His laugh was unmistakable. What I have realized is, I still really miss him. I miss him a lot. I miss him more when I talk to his daughter and see her face, because I see him looking back at me.
I think the biggest takeaway from all of this is that it’s okay to still miss my brother and be sad from time to time. It’s ok because I am loved right where I am, and I am loved strong by God. He has never based his love for me on how well I fake being okay. He has always loved me full on “while yet I was a sinner, he died for me.” That means, that at my worst, He loved my best. Even though it has been four years and I get sad when I see my boys play, or a Teddy Pendergrass song comes on it’s okay and I am still fully loved. I can be in process because it is about the process! The refining that comes through the magnifying glass of pain.
So in another four years when I get sad by seeing a Black and Mild package or a Hilton Head island magnet, it’s okay. It’s ok because I know that I’m being refined, it’s just taking longer than I thought.