This post is by Joanne Wu.
My husband and I are in the middle messes of leaving a church we thought we would call “home” indefinitely. And it hurts. Everything hurts.
But life goes on. The sun continues to rise and set. My five children need food, clothing, and rides to and from school. Our beloved Golden Retriever needs to eat her medicine with her food twice a day, and be taken out to the bathroom three times a day. Though everything hurts, life goes on. Though everything feels dark, knowing that my whole life is in the overall care of the triune God points me towards how to plan for each day. Simply, my plan for the dark is “discipline myself to do what I need, not what I feel.”
When life throws a curveball this personal, how do I trust my ability to carry a bat, much less swing one? With the messy ending at our church, everything I thought was and would be was also obliterated, leaving me unsure of what future to plan for. With this current dark, there has been no light to run towards. Instead, I am learning that THE LIGHT is with me, and to rest in this truth. I do not need to run towards the light because the LIGHT is carrying me in this dark time. Though everything I do might feel aimless, I am being carried somewhere.
Because I feel varying degrees of pain everyday, I choose to discipline myself to do not what I feel, but do what I know is better for me. Knowing that I need space to feel my pain and to be present for my children when they are with me, I requested a one month leave from my part-time job. Once all the kids are in school, I repeat to myself: do what I need, not what I feel.
After that self pep talk, I take out my calendar-planner-turned-gratitude-journal, my prayer journal, my Bible, and the Voices of Lament book I’m currently reading through. Next, I write one blessing from the day before, check my Bible reading app and read the assigned reading for the day, read one voice from Voices of Lament, then I write my prayer or reflections. Sometimes this time takes five minutes, other times it can take up to thirty minutes or more.
Usually, I stare off into space after writing in my prayer journal and let my mind wander. When the wandering begins veering to an unhealthy place, I remind myself, again, to do what I need, not what I feel. After putting the books and journals away, I gear up to take a walk and/or follow a GrowWithJo stretching video. The goal at this time is to move through this pain I’m feeling, and to practice breathing. Sometimes my moving leads me to tears, other times it keeps me mindful to be gentle with myself right now, because I am wounded. Though the wound is not physical, it does affect me physically. So I’m trying to be present even in the dark, because even here, God is with me.
Perhaps you are in a season similar to mine. If you are, I hope these words give you permission to honor the hard season you are in. I hope you find a rhythm that works for you so that you can be present in how your body responds to pain, while also being present for the people in your immediate circle of care. If you don’t know where to begin, ask yourself “what is one thing I know to be good and true right now?” And then, plan your days centered around that good and true thing. Reminding yourself at every turn, “do what I need, not what I feel.”
Joanne is a SoCal native who currently lives in Taiwan with her husband of fifteen years. She is a mom to five beautiful children and one faithful Golden Retriever. She appreciates free time to take walks, sleep, and slowly eat her food. She shares about how she finds grace in the midst of everyday mess on Instagram @mom.of.wu .
Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash
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