Precious treasures are lost in an instant.
Masterpieces are destroyed in a moment.
Fortunes can be decimated by one wrong financial move.
Spirits are crushed by disillusionment or discouragement.
Bodies are broken by accident or illness.
We see these things every day. We analyze the losses, examine the reasons for the failures, study the causes of the diseases, and mourn the destruction, yet spend very little time focused on or thinking about the process of recovery, restoration, recuperation, and repair.
Take the recent “super storm” on the East Coast. While the storm itself lasted just a few days, the effects are still being felt by those who were caught in its path. Restoration and repair will take a lot longer than a few days.
Anyone who has ever broken a bone knows that sickening “snap” that comes at the moment of impact. In as little time as it takes to snap our fingers, a bone can be broken. But it takes a minimum of four to six weeks for that bone to knit itself back together.
We need to permit ourselves (and others) the kindness of taking time to recover from other kinds of losses and wounds and injuries as well… grief, job loss, home foreclosure, bankruptcy, divorce, moving, etc.
High-stress life events take a toll on us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Ignoring those events and trying to maintain the same pace of life is like trying to run a marathon on a broken leg. You might be able to do it, but the damage will be much worse when you get to the end.
In our just-add-water, instant download, quick fix society (and yes, that mindset is prevalent in our churches, too) we not only want to avoid long, drawn-out, messy scenes that involve OTHER people’s recuperation, we don’t want to endure the process ourselves.
Just wave the magic wand over my head and make it all better. And even if it isn’t all better, I’ll pretend like it is because that’s what’s expected. But that isn’t healthy. Or sane. The pressure to “hurry up and get over it” cripples the recovery process, whether it’s recovering from a sprained ankle or a sprained soul.
Instead of trying to hasten the process, we need to cooperate with it. But how?
- Pare down to the essentials for living. Let’s face it, a lot of what we do with our time and money is NOT essential for life. When circumstances get rough, it’s time to lighten your load, set aside some obligations, take off an extra “hat” or two, and reduce yourself to a human BEING as opposed to a human DOING.
- Determine what’s restorative for YOU. Some people need silence and solitude to sort through situations. Others need social settings to verbalize what they are thinking and feeling. You may need more sleep, or just more time to rest. You might find restoration in art or music, or in nature. Take that time and focus on your recovery, and don’t let other people badger you about it.
- Use your time wisely. Now that you’ve freed up some time and energy for the purpose of restoration, don’t fill that time with empty activities, focus on restoration. Physically that might mean applying better nutritional habits, or an exercise routine. Spiritually it might mean time in prayer or meditation, or simply celebrating your life with God through worship.
- Forgiveness may be your most powerful tool in restoration and recovery. Wherever we harbor feelings of resentment, offense, anger, and unforgiveness, we weaken ourselves. Failure to release those negative feelings will hinder the process of recuperation. One of the stages of grief involves being angry at the person who died, but many people are so guilt-ridden by the thought of being angry at the lost loved one they never progress past that point in the process. We can even be angry and offended by ourselves, by the things we did that caused the problem to begin with. Ever been angry at a germ? Or the weather? I have. But “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” You can be angry, bitter, resentful, and offended if you want. Or you can recover. You can’t, however, do both.
- Erase the imaginary timetable in your head. Deciding that you aren’t required to be “fixed” by a certain date takes a lot of the pressure off. Jesus’ advice to take one day at a time is wisdom, indeed. Every day is a day on the road to recovery, keep the faith.