Prior to Christmas, I was invited to a church service that took place the day before the Solstice. The focal point of this church service was on the night before the longest night of the year, to hold a space for all the grief we have experienced this last year. Personally? I am sick of grief. I’m sick of love showing its face in a heavy weighted down cloak of loss. Of talking about it, of seeing it in little moments, experiencing it. I’m sick of hearing its steps and that it’s all a part of the process. I know these things, and they are right and true, but sometimes I wish there was a reprieve from it. I have experienced enough grief for multiple life lines. I did NOT want to provide more space for that feeling.
But I got one of my infamous feelings, a knowing deep in my bones. I knew something was going to happen and I needed this unknown experience. So I went.
Honestly, there was a small portion of me anticipating some miracle insta-fix with a loss I didn't anticipate this year. These kinds of things never happen the way we expect though.
I sat quietly in the furthest back seat. I prayed, I sang softly along with the worship team, I processed some moments I buried. But still, I knew in my gut that the moment hadn’t happened yet.
A while back, I had a conversation with a really close friend. In this conversation, he said, “Claira, I know that you’ve got grit. But I think, that you think your bark is louder than it sounds. I think there are some people out there that you couldn’t stand up for yourself against, and sometimes I worry about your bark getting you in that position. But I also know, we’ll get you there one day.”
Most people would roll their eyes or take offense at being told that. Personally, I have never felt more seen, understood, and supported.
Since childhood, I have had the same underlying fear. Running into a man who had stolen a foundation of safety and security when he should have been an adult who protected me. Over time, this man became bigger and bigger in my head. Until one day he was more monster than man. And sometimes that fear of running into him was bigger than the events that took place in the first place.
That fear was the starting point and had driven my addictive coping strategies that weren’t really coping at all. All in a quest of numbing that fear that I could feel in every sinew in my body.
That brings us back to our elusive moment. At the end of that service, mid my softly singing I looked up. It wasn’t some big monster frothing at the teeth, sitting four rows ahead of me. It was a man, sobbing in his own grief. And he didn’t even notice me, sitting in the furthest back seat.
At that moment, I was a young woman grieving my own experiences. And he was just a man grieving his own. All the fear that would course through my bloodstream when I thought I saw him in a stranger's face, wasn’t there because he wasn’t a monster, he’s just a man.
I needed to see, that he was just a man who had done awful things. I’m no longer a scared child, I’m a grown woman building a life of weightless happiness and peace. This life, no longer has space for fear, because there is nothing to fear but fear itself. And I am so much more than that. And I stumbled into this realization, because I provided space for a feeling I try so hard to avoid.
So I didn’t get the band-aid to a much smaller pain in the grand scheme of things. Because that’s never how these things work. But I now have the ability to walk a little lighter in life without that weight on my shoulders.
Sometimes, what feels like a monster that we fear is coming around the corner; something we once thought we were not capable of conquering if we came to face it. Sometimes, we will stumble into it, and we won’t even realize we have grown the ability to conquer what was once infeasible.
Because we got there, it just took us some time.