The Grief of Growth

I scrolled through the photos in my phone looking for one specific picture when I saw a picture of us.  We had smirks on our face, and I swear I could remember the exact joke that was cracked just before I snapped our selfie.  That was our way though: laughing uncontrollably and taking pictures…even if they would never be posted.  Staring at the picture, my chuckle turned into a sigh, and my smile diminished a bit.  Time and change had done a number on the people who were that photo.  We aren’t those people anymore.

| The Grief of Growth |

“No one warns you about the amount of mourning in growth.”

(This is a repost posted to Pastor Kim Pothier’s Instagram page.) 

I have been very open in sharing how the journey leading to and the days that followed my page turn to Chapter 30 has changed my life completely.  My transformation began with self-evaluation, and slowly but surely, I began not only expecting but embracing change.  My personality and habits changed.  I relinquished excuses, fear, and my proclivity to be a people pleaser.  (That people pleasing thing is still a work in progress, but I’ve covered a lot of ground.)  I started taking chances and actually accomplishing things.  Most importantly, I started taking care of, covering, looking out for, thinking about, and doing things for myself.  I was given peace and freedom that translated to every area of my life.  My priorities shifted to making sure I was living out my purposes and protecting my peace at all costs.

Nobody told me that my peace would cost me some people.

Many of the dynamics of my friendships are completely different now.  While I was busy growing, things were shifting.  My tolerance, expectations, and efforts changed, and either my friends kept up with my new pace or fell off because they could keep up or wouldn’t even try.  Some of the friends who were seemingly in the background or not in the picture at all now have a bit more of an audience with me.  On the converse, some friends who seemed to be featured in a leading role have fallen into the shadows.  I can’t put an exact date on when roles switched, all I know is when I look at the “pictures” of my life, things look different.

Then I have moments like today when I look back at an old picture and see what was.  I don’t know what aches more, the memory or the realization that I’m not in that space anymore.  I wasn’t prepared to not be in that space anymore; it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t.

Once upon a time, me and the face in the picture were on level ground.  We sat together, laughed together, and suffered together.  We were even buddies in depression and grief.  We were each other’s crutches that lended one another a hand to get up and sometimes stay down and wallow.  We enabled one another.  Then  after almost dying at rock bottom, God helped me get up!  Being a friend and one who wants everyone to be included, I extended a hand.  God had to be the one to pull up my friend just like he had to pull me up.  As much as I tried to remain where I was with my friend, I was uncomfortable in that pit.  I later reckoned that God wouldn’t let me stay in or linger around defeat, depression, and suicidal thoughts.  He was protecting me so I didn’t slip back into that place.  The only way I could grow and live was to takes steps away which meant in some ways, I was stepping away from my friends who chose to remain in that space.

I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost. 

I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost.

I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost.

I honestly don’t have the desire or strength to drag this out today.  I just want to find a point and get to it.

Let me share a quick story with you based on Ezra 3:1-13…  Please read it for yourself because this is gonna be the Spark Notes version.

In the seventh month, the people of Israel gathered in Jerusalem to begin rebuilding an altar in the place where one once stood.  On this altar, burnt offerings and sacrifices could be presented.  According to the Israel calendar, this month is the time where they celebrated the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Trumpets, and because the altar was build those festivals were observed.  After some time, (the second month of the second year) they began rebuilding the temple of God.  Once the foundation was laid, the people began shouting for joy because the building was under way, but some of the older men who had seen the first temple wept.

“No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.”

Ezra 3:13 [New International Version]

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

It is possible to rejoice over what is and mourn over what was simultaneously. 

This is what I have been wrestling to accept: it’s okay to enjoy this new blessing even if the people who I think should be with me aren’t.

Never did I imagine not having certain people or things in my life.  Furthermore, I didn’t imagine that I wouldn’t have those people or things because I was actually growing.  Nobody ever told me that on the flip side of excitement is that twinge of pain because things have changed and are different.  I have spent the last few months of my life with simultaneous shouts of joy and weeping.  My pastor calls this a “mixed praise.”  What’s worse is trying to reconcile that I am not wrong for outgrowing, moving on, or progressing.  I have had to force myself to not feel bad because it seems like I’m recovering better than those around me who were once in their own rut right beside me.

In this scripture, the Isrealites are rebuilding the temple!  It’s a fresh start and an opportunity to not only restore what was once ruined but have something new.  But for those who could remember what was, seeing something new reminded them of something old.  Nothing hurts worse than realizing that today is not “the good ole days.”    Trust me, acceptance of something new doesn’t automatically swipe our memories clean.

I feel like I’m rambling… It’s been such a rough day.

Here’s my point: enjoy what you have.  As long as you aren’t out of the will of God, you are where you are supposed to be.  I know it may hurt that this victory calls for a celebration that may be void of a few people or things.  I know all too well how it is to cheer in public and wipe a tear in private.  YOU AREN’T CRAZY FOR HAVING MIXED FEELINGS!  Just promise me you won’t forfeit your growth while regressing to have what you had.

I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost. 

I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost.

I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost.

I really like the title of this blog.  I’ll post better one using the title later.

I hope this helps.

-Chris

 

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