I embarked on a fitness journey this last year. Jesse and I joined an awesome local gym that partners with my work. It builds me up and grows my muscles day by day. But I’m slowly realizing, you can always be stronger. The training doesn’t end. It never stops. I wanted to climb the rope. Done. Now I want to climb the rope faster. I wanted to lift my heels to the bar. Now I want to do it without jumping first. I celebrate for a minute when I reach my goal, and then I have to acknowledge there’s more to accomplish. Because your strength grows when you’re in a process of breaking and rebuilding. It’s good to work hard and accomplish goals. Yet, I am constantly aware that there’s still farther to go. It’s motivating and maddening.
Grief, I’m finding is no easier. Some days I just want to be done with it. To stop the suffering and pain and loss. To break up with it and have a clean break. To not find it punctuating every aspect of my life. To talk with my friends about our “parents” and how they drive us “crazy.” To have a functioning parental unit. To look back at old pictures and simply sigh at the times gone by, instead of feeling tears choking in my throat. If only it was as easy as climbing a rope. If only you could train and be done, and then I’d finally be satisfied. If only we were made to be that simple. We are made in the image of God, however, so we don’t have the luxury of an easy, simple life. That would mean God is simple and does not experience the depths of loss and love. We are complex and intricate people who feel the acute sense that this world is not our home. We can’t stay here forever.
When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”
Sometimes I find myself wishing to be my pre-grief self. Free of stretch marks from the weight I gained while eating grief casseroles (metaphorically and literally). I’ve since lost the “weight,” but those marks remind me of what happened. They’re scars, in a way. I found that when I start to struggle with my own body image, I’m usually struggling with grief and/or transitions in my life. I don’t really hate how I look, or think all my clothes are terrible, and that I would be better off as a troll under a bridge (you’ve probably had one of those days too). Really, what I’m saying is, “I’m not comfortable with this new normal,” “I’m not comfortable in this world where she isn’t.” It all boils down to, do I really believe I’m made in the image of God? Am I thankful for the person he’s making me into? Or am I going to rebel and seek to steal, kill, and destroy this gift I’ve been given?
Isaiah 61:3 ESV
To grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
How do I grow as a woman apart from her? I can be trapped in the lie that if I return to a previous version of myself, all my current problems will disappear. I don’t want to move on, but I’m propelled forward whether I embrace it or not. Time can be viewed as either a cruel teacher, or a persistent trainer.
At first, I started going to Terrain (the gym’s name) just to prove to myself I could do it and have something in common with some of my coworkers. Then, as my body started to change I realized that I was starting to get caught in the trap of vanity. I found myself looking forward to going back to my old pair of jeans. My Mom had complimented me on these jeans. Then the jeans got a hole in them and I had to throw them out and Jesse just shook his head cause it was a TRAUMATIC experience for my hoarder heart. “I know you really love those jeans, but it’s time to throw them away,” he told me. What I really needed to throw out was my broken mentality. I thought the point of exercise was to return to who you were before (which is impossible). Change happens and then we must choose to transition onward.
I thought that the point of working through your grief was to return to who you were before. That mentality steals, kills, and destroys. Even if I hadn’t lost my Mom, I still can’t be the same person I was. The point is to be refined and grow into the strong, powerful, and beautiful woman of God I’m called to be in this part of the story. This is our inheritance.
Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV
To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.