Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Broken Embrace

by Martha Doolittle

"Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have." John Piper

I was broken. I always knew that, although not in those words. But the accumulation of rejections, humiliations, fears and bad choices felt like a spin cycle that had washed away my dreams, leaving me stressed, overweight and unforgiving. I felt I had to prove myself, be in control of my life and make sure that the world could not exist without me. It wasn't until my 57th birthday, when I had my stroke, that I began to heal and become whole. As painful as it was I knew it was my rescue from everything I'd been caught up in and didn't know how to get out of. 

My life in recovery became the perfect metaphor for a broken life on the mend. I learned to:
  • Submit to the process: It's going to be messy, uncomfortable, inconvenient, often embarrassing, and sometimes incomprehensible but the rules and restrictions of your recovery keep you safe and allow for healing. 
  • Be patient: Take time to listen to your body, your mind and and your spirit and respond to what they're telling you. Release the stress of worrying about what you can't do. Instead, focus on what you can do and practice it calmly and consistently. 
  • Move slowly: This is your opportunity to take time to be quiet, sleep, read, write - whatever recharges your spirit and brings you rest. You don't have to hurry and get well. In fact, hurrying is dangerous and it prolongs the healing process.  As you rest, your stamina will increase, at your pace.
  • Think of other people: You may be the one in recovery but anyone who helps you is in it with you. Whether they asked for that opportunity or it was thrust upon them, they are there for you and deserve your honor, respect and gratitude. For those who offered, this could be your chance to develop new friends or deepen current friendships. You need others to help you shoulder your burden. But others need you as well, to give of themselves, to affirm that their life matters, too.

My faith has been my anchor, my source of hope and the key to living in recovery. Child of God and friend of Jesus, I KNOW He loves me and is vigilantly caring for me at every moment, whether I'm under my challenges or on top of the world. Therapists in the hospital were quick to point out "you're not a victim - you're a survivor!"  Well I'm not just a survivor, I'm a life-affirming traveler on the road He made just for me and every day has a rich landscape that feeds my body, mind, and spirit and gives me, and everyone who shares my journey with me, what I need for the next day if I take the time to receive it.

Each month, in this blog, you will read about something on the heart and mind of one of our therapists.  Through fresh perspective, encouragement, and psychological, medical and spiritual breakthroughs, their words will affirm "our human suffering need not be an obstacle to the joy and peace we so desire but can become instead the means to it." Henri Nouwen

We'd love to hear from you when a blog has particular meaning for you.