“It’s going to be a long process,” my friend repeated yet again.
I took a shaky breath. “Long process . . . what fun to look forward to.” Sarcasm. “But at least it’s okay that I’m not okay.”
The thing is, I want to be okay already. It was nice to be hugged and have a good cry, but shouldn’t I be better already? Shouldn’t I be taking steps forward? Instead, it feels like I just keep revisiting the same issues, insecurities, and wounds over and over again in a hamster wheel.
I’ve had a rough few years. From chronic illness that took me to my deathbed to being abandoned by friends to struggling to support people I loved, I have a lot of hamster wheels to run.
Maybe you relate.
Here’s the thing, though: healing — more often than not — takes time.
Too frequently, we underplay our hurt, invalidating our own pain. We look around at people who seem to have it together and we think we need to have it together as well.
But sweet heart, look at me. Your pain is valid. Don’t you dare let any lie tell you otherwise. You don’t have to magically be better. You don’t have to do all your healing and grieving and processing all at once.
It might take time. It might be a process. It’s okay to give yourself rest. It’s okay to give yourself a break. It’s okay to have a few good cries. We don’t want to live trapped in a victim mentality, but to heal we also have to acknowledge our hurt. Our anger, our fear, our brokenness.
For me, this meant throwing rocks into a river as hard as I could and shouting my messy prayers to God over the roar of the small waterfall. It also meant going on endless walks and journaling a lot and baking myself a batch of chocolate chip oatmeal raisin cookies.
Dear warrior, give yourself grace! I mean it. God has abundant grace for you. He sees you as worth it. He knows you are a work in progress. Will you have grace for yourself like God has for you? Will you choose to see yourself as God sees you?
I know it’s hard. Trust me, I’m preaching to myself here. A few minutes before writing this I was holding a teddy bear (nevermind that I’m technically an adult) and crying as I struggled to apply this to myself. Writing this is an act of faith and hope when I really don’t feel like it.
“It’s going to be a long process . . . but I’m proud of you for starting,” my friend finished.
Today, simply start. Or continue. Take it one day, one hour, one step at a time. You don’t have to be healed by bedtime. You don’t have to be okay right now. You can simply be held by God.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)
As I look in front of me, I see a long road. I’ve got a lot of mess to work through. It won’t be easy. And that realization sometimes makes me want to curl in a ball in my closet and not come out for a long time. (Who knows? Maybe I’ll find Narnia in there.) But I don’t have to deal with any of that right now, in this moment.
So today, I’m going to work up the courage to spend some time with a friend I know will see right through me. And I’m not going to scold myself for crying. I’m not going to expect myself to figure it all out tonight.
I’m choosing, right now, to give myself grace today. To let myself off the hook. And to believe — even though it’s hard — that I am beloved. That I am worth it. Will you do the same thing?
One last thing — it’s okay to still need help. Healing goes a lot easier when you let people in. People can even be the catalysts for certain kinds of healing. You aren’t a bad friend or family member for needing help. Including continued help.
You don’t have to be okay right now. You can simply be held by God.
Sara Willoughby is a blogger, chronic illness warrior, and dark chocolate enthusiast. Sara is the host of the annual Diamonds conference and the author of He’s Making Diamonds: A Teen’s Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness. You can find her at her website or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.