I had a moment. Coronavirus thoughts.

I had a moment last week.

It was a nice day and I was sitting outside reading. Usually, I would feel guilty sitting and reading in the middle of the day. But on that day, instead of feeling guilty, I paused and took a deep breath. I felt content. I felt peaceful. I thought to myself “I could get used to this. This feels like a healthy pace for our family.” 

I had a moment of acceptance. 

It was the moment that I (we) was working so hard to experience. 

It was worth all the hard work. 

I am beginning to accept the fact that I cannot work right now and probably won’t for a while. 

I am beginning to accept the fact that my kids will not go back to school and will be home with me every day for 4 more months.

I am beginning to accept the fact that I can’t meet my friends for coffee, go to the gym or go to Target without a mask.

I am beginning to accept the fact that sports have been canceled, events have been postponed and places of entertainment have shut down. 

I am beginning to accept my new reality and I am starting to see it’s beauty. 

And because of that, I feel like I can finally take a deep breath. 

I don’t want to make it sound like every moment since then has been peaceful and full of joy. As I mentioned early on in this journey, grief is not linear. I still have moments of depression. I am still trying to control my boundaries. I still have moments where I want to retreat to denial and believe that none of this is real. I have dreams about Covid-19 and I wake up hoping it’s all just a bad dream. 

But because I have worked hard and have had glimpses of the peace acceptance brings, I don’t stay in those previous phases of grief very long. I’m lured back to the place of acceptance by the comfort that it brings. 

I have spent most of my life trying to fight against and control my reality. As I have mentioned many times, so much has happened to me that I fiercely fight to secure any sense of control I can. It took me 16 years after my Liver transplant to finally accept what happened to me. When I did that, I truly became a new person. The Lisa that God created began to resurface again. 

I have never been so relieved. 

Feeling the need to control everything is a heavy burden to bear. One I was never designed to carry. 

You aren’t either. 

That is the reason I have been writing and sharing about grief during Covid-19. I want you to learn from my mistakes. I don’t want you to have to wait 16 years, 16 months or even 16 extra days to come to place of acceptance of the new reality Covid-19 has thrust upon us. Striving to control what is out of your control is fruitless and exhausting. 

So let’s keep working.

It starts by being aware. Are you reacting in a disproportionate way to a situation? Do you find yourself lashing out for no good reason? Are you struggling to get out of bed?

Name it. Name the emotion that you are experiencing. Let your reactions be your teacher. 

Claim it. Declare it. Own it. Naming your emotions and recognizing that they stem from a place of grief will greatly accelerate your healing. 

Give it a space and a place

Do you need to just vent? Find a safe person you can vent to.

Do you need to go to bed? Go to bed.

Give it to Jesus. He knows anyway. He created grief as a pathway to healing. Invite him into your process. Lay your emotions before him and surrender. 

Then move on. Do the next thing you need to do. You have given the emotion the space and place it needs, it’s time to move on – whether you feel like it or not! 

Then do it all over again. 

And again. And again. And again. 

And then soon, before you know it, you will be sitting outside on a nice day and you will find yourself taking a deep breath. You will feel grateful. You will realize that all your hard work was worth it for this moment.

The moment of acceptance. 

Because there is more,

Lisa

Acceptance

acceptance

When I look back at my journey, the driving force behind my grief  is control. So much happened to me in a fairly short time. Over the last 18 years I have grasped to control anything I  possibly could. Jobs. My health. My reputation. My emotions. My friendships.

I was pretty good at it. I am very persistent and can be very convincing.

Then I met my match.

Her name is Piper. She is my daughter.

We had a rocky start. After my transplant, we had decided to adopt instead of having kids biologically. I was scared. There was so much unknown around my health and so many babies out there that needed homes. Then I had a dream. The dream that changed it all. I don’t remember much about the dream, but I knew that when I woke up we needed to try and have a baby. I couldn’t make a decision out of fear. I gave God a month. If I didn’t get pregnant in a month, we were moving forward with adoption.

I got pregnant.

As I have shared, my relationship with God at the time was transactional. If I was obedient, God should give me what I want. That line of thinking led me to believe that if I was obedient and got pregnant, being a parent was going to be easy.

Just in case you don’t know, parenting is super hard. And when two strong willed, feisty people create a human, it tends to even be harder.

A couple years ago we were deep in the trenches with Piper. I was working through deep resentment towards God and Piper. She was so hard. Piper was mirroring the anxiety I had spent my whole life battling and had tried so hard to hide. I blamed myself, God and her. When she wasn’t weeping, her anxiety manifested in anger and rage. We were walking on eggshells. We didn’t want to upset the beast. We sought peace at all cost. We tried all the tricks. We did all the things. Nothing seemed to be helping. Our marriage was suffering as we sought to survive the storm.

We were defeated. We didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t do it anymore. Nothing was working. It was a fight we couldn’t win.

Right around the same time, I was struggling professionally. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing, but I sure knew what I wanted to do. So I pushed. I tried to control my circumstances and convince the people involved that my plan was right. On a conscience level I didn’t realize I was doing that, but I knew something didn’t feel right. I felt like I was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Those around me saw beyond my arguments and confirmed what I already knew, the job was not the right fit. I was the square peg that didn’t fit in the round hole. Although in my heart, I knew it was the right thing, I was angry. I was lost.

On top of that, my friendships were changing. I had had hip surgery and recovery was much harder than we had anticipated.

Everything around me felt so out of control.

I could no longer steer my ship.

I had lost.

I was broken.

I couldn’t control my friends.

I couldn’t control my body.

I couldn’t convince anyone that I was the best one for the job.

I couldn’t change Piper as much as I tried and tried.

I couldn’t fight it anymore.

I slowly began to surrender.

I waved my white flag.

I finally accepted. I began to accept the fact that 18 years ago, my life changed forever – even though I never did anything wrong. I began to accept the fact that my body does not have the same capacities it used to have. I began to accept the fact that God never promised that we would be shielded from pain, only that he would be there. I began to accept the fact that I am going to have a lot more things happen in my life that are super hard. I began to accept the fact that I have an anxious, defiant daughter, whom I deeply love. I began to accept the fact that I am not going to always get what I want when I want it.

I began to accept reality.

I have never been so relieved. Feeling the need to control everything is a heavy burden to bear. One I was never designed to carry.

I literally felt my heart begin to melt. I felt all these layers of grief and confusion begin to shed. And with each layer, I felt lighter and lighter. The Lisa that God created began to resurface again.

I have wondered over the last couple years why these circumstances in particular brought me to a place of surrender and acceptance. I’m not really sure. After everything I have gone through, why my anxious daughter and a failed dream were what brought me to my knees remains a mystery. But I’ll tell you this-I am eternally grateful. As I continue to cease to try to control my life and everyone involved, I am in constant awe of God’s presence and provision. Breakthroughs in my faith have been accelerated. I have grown more in the last two years then I did in the previous 15. My relationships have gotten so much sweeter. I can make decisions faster and with more confidence. I can hear God’s voice more clearly and discern his path more quickly. I’m becoming more grateful and less discontent. I am becoming more graceful and less judgmental. I am much quicker to see my pride and confess my desire to control.

Acceptance is so peaceful. Fighting is exhausting.

I have said so many times that grief is designed to be a pathway to healing, not a way of life. If you allow the current of emotion that I have learned to call grief carry you, you will end in the ocean. A place of freedom, adventure and awe. But if you try to stop the current, it will bubble up and you will drown..

Do you feel like you are drowning? Look up and breathe deeply. Acknowledge that life was not what you expected. Invite God to join you. Get angry. Just make sure it isn’t pointed sideways. Bargain. Just don’t let it be your foundation in which you build your faith. If you feel depressed or anxious, don’t be afraid of it, it’s normal. But try to keep perspective on the driver behind the emotion. Seek outside help. Never feel ashamed. Then surrender. Surrender daily, Surrender hourly. Because please, learn from my mistakes…

In Matthew 16 Jesus says to his disciples “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

Let me take the liberty to paraphrase…

If you try to control your life, you will lose it. But if you surrender your life to him, he will save it.

This is the end of my series on my grief journey. Stay tuned for what is next!

Lisa