The Pain of the Present in the Midst of Transitions

The Pain of the Present in the Midst of Transitions can be hard to walk through.

We distract ourselves with the future. We talk about the day we’ll have a queen size bed. What we want in our new home whether it’s an RV, an apartment, or a house. The day we’ll be able to turn on the shower and not just have trickling water greet us.

In just 4 months, we will say goodbye to the country we’ve called home for nearly 10 years.

When I stop to observe the present, I take notice. I notice the invitations have stopped coming. I notice that some friendships have changed. I notice and it hurts.

On a peaceful getaway with my husband, I realized it’s too risky to discuss the present. We walked up the winding mountain, barely able to breath. Happily discussing our life on the other side of the equator. Excitement stirred within us. We were analytic about our futures. Who knew one could get so giddy about the possibility of bigger beds and a fridge that works.

We ended our hike up the picturesque mountain with high hopes for our future. Somehow we never got around to talking about the present. Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence.

The present is filled with too much emotion and heartache. The thought of letting myself explore these emotions is overwhelming. So I continue to put it off for tomorrow, on another day when I have more time. Life is too busy for me to sit with this heart tug–there are dishes to wash, articles to write, friends to catch up with and life as we know it.

I go about my day mindlessly busy trying to avoid it all but even in all my efforts to keep the present emotions at bay, it still manages to creep itself into my thoughts. I find myself hysterically laughing with friends and the next moment trying to keep from bursting into tears.

The Fear of Present Emotions

Part of my fear comes from letting myself dance in the present emotions. I’m afraid of feeling the pain too soon. What if it hurts too much and as a protective measure and I begin to detach from my community, my friends, my ministry and our life here? What if it doesn’t hurt and I am numb? What if it creates a distance instead of a connection?

Needless to say, I’d rather busy myself and go out and enjoy that beautiful friend.

Engage in deep conversation with my fellow expat amiga.

I’d rather go for a walk and discuss parenting, life and God.

I’d rather enjoy the now then grieve the loss of a friendship. Because, well…I can’t preserve those moments all I can do is loosely hold them with open hands and be all there.

But am I really “all there” when I ignore the emotions wrapped around my heart?

Sitting in the Sorrow

The next day at the hot springs was spent relaxing. As we let the the hot volcanic waters wash away our stress and worries something began stirring. I ignored it. There was no plan to discuss the now or to talk about our feelings about the present. We just wanted to relax and read as the sun kissed our foreheads.

As I relaxed and did nothing, my heart emotions began to unravel. Sometimes we keep busy in order to keep those feelings at bay. Well, the emotions did what they are supposed to do–float to the top.

It hit me–the tears came as natural as the free flowing water before me.

It hurts friends. It hurts to feel–to sit and feel the sorrow of leaving loved ones. I literally felt sick to my stomach from burying so much emotion down deep inside and now letting it surface to the top.

But I made myself sit with my sorrow.

The cure for pain is in the pain. ~Rumi

It’s Okay to Question

The doubts and fears swept over me. I doubted my bond and loyalty to this country, our ministry, our friendships, our community. This left me feeling anything but certain. What if I forget what it’s like to appreciate hot water? If I forget those beautiful little dirty faces that beg to wash my windshield every day?  What if I forget that the food on our table has nothing to do with me or us, but with Him who provides? What if my friends forget me? Does this sorrow portray a lack of trust? What if my faith dwindles in the midst of the comforts that are at my every reach in the U.S.? What if I become entitled to stuff that never really ever belonged to me in the first place? What if I never talk to that friend again?

The invitation continued–Sit, be present with your emotions.

What if we lose touch in the midst of every day life? What if we never see any of those kindred spirits again here on earth? What if that loyalty and bond that has been carefully and intentionally poured into doesn’t survive this move? I am afraid of forgetting.

Oh my friend, it’s challenging to enjoy the moments in the present instead of storing them for the future but we must. So I sit.

We sat together in the peaceful pools and let sorrow do it’s work. It was beautiful handing them over to Jesus! It was hard! It was healing!

As we headed back home I made a mental note for the future–sit with Jesus in this sorrow. Not for too long, but not too rapidly. I have been afraid of letting go so I’ve constantly kept busy in order to distance myself from the grief and pain but I remind myself of the healing power of sitting in it and giving it over to Him.

Did it work?

“Deaths are defining moments in our lives. It serves us poorly to hurry past them… Let loss do it’s eternal work in your soul.” ~ Alicia Britt Chole

Though I realize it’s difficult to simultaneously celebrate life in the present as we anticipate the farewells, we must. I wholeheartedly encourage you to make time now, in the present–to sit with Jesus in the sorrow. It’s easy to let the chaos and busyness of life pull us from one thing to another keeping our emotions at bay.

Let’s ask ourselves, “What is this ache I’m wanting to heal with busyness, trying to tell me?

Bittersweet would be the word I’d use to describe the flutters of grief and laughter that I’m overcome with throughout the week. But when I put on my big girl britches and let myself grieve over the present pain as it comes instead of continuously burying it deep within, I let the pain have it’s healing effect. When I allow myself to stop and sit in my sorrow, this is when I can be fully present.

When we stop running away from the present feelings that is when we can fully be present.”

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  1. Thanks for sharing and being so transparent. There may have been tears as I read this on my phone while waiting for my coffee to be ready. I hope these last 4 months are filled with wonderful memories!

  2. Oh man… tears came to my eyes reading through this bittersweet season, both exciting and heartaching, both forward looking, and backward cherishing. We are those whose hearts will never be whole or in one place on this earth, as we leaves pieces wherever we go. But what a beautiful thing to know they are whole in Him, as the One who holds all the pieces together. Hugs.

    • HI Beth, Thanks for your beautiful words. Yes, I love how you said that–“backward cherishing” and the great reminder–“they are whole in Him”. ~Mari