August 14, 2019
“Some of us walk around with a necklace of hope, an armor of sanity, but at the end of the day, they always come off. We reveal our naked, vulnerable, real selves.” ― Karen Quan, author
It’s been three years since we received the heartbreaking diagnosis for our precious wee boy: muscular dystrophy. No treatment. No cure. He would live to see 20 “if we were lucky.” I don’t remember much about the next year. I was swimming in a fog of grief and fear. Oh, I survived, but I did it by putting the needs of everyone before my own. Because what I needed was to fall apart and I didn’t have the luxury of falling apart.
I had grief and fear and four children to take care of. That’s when I started numbing, building an ambitious armor around my tender, hurting heart so I wouldn’t be pulled under by the pain. My armor guaranteed my survival.
Then the presidential election happened, November 2016, and the division that ripped our country also tore my family apart. As my naivete was stripped away, I learned that people I loved, adored, and respected shared very different values from me. This was the first election that I took personally. And it hurt. My armor became heavier as I learned to navigate this new world.
I call this time in my life, these two very difficult years, my miniature disaster. At some point in life, most people experience their own miniature disasters, these pivots in time where life gets REAL. Everything we think we know is put to the test. We learn who our friends are. They are the ones who don’t take our stuff personally, neither our outbursts nor our withdrawals, and just keep loving us. Loving us hard.
We learn where to look for God. We find God in the smallest moments of wonder and laughter and raw pain. We find God in the quiet moments of prayer and in the small celebrations, in the mountains and in the mundane.
And, eventually we learn that as seductive as it can be, putting on that emotional armor to try to protect our tender hearts just isn’t worth it. You see, the problem with armor is that the weight becomes unbearable and it keeps us from feeling the good stuff, too.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to sacrifice the good things in life in order to avoid the hard things so I keep putting the armor down and feeling ALL the feelings, knowing that the grief and pain I carry is, in Truth, also a gift.
As I lay my armor down, I find that I am, in fact, not drowning in my pain. I get sad. I get scared. But much more, I get grateful. Grateful for my family. Grateful for our human family. Grateful that the light is being called to banish the shadows.
What I know is that when I choose Love, when I choose connection, when I choose gratitude, the ways of Light open before my feet. As a friend of mine said the other day, “Strong back. Soft belly. Wild heart.”
A strong back, born of knowing Who You Are. A soft belly, making the choice to stay open and vulnerable. A wild heart, creative and daring and free to make this world a better place. As Dr, King said, “Love will have the final word.” Put down the armor. Be the Love.
Shelly Walker is a licensed Spiritual Practitioner, serving at New Thought Center for Spiritual Living in Lake Oswego, Oregon. You can join her Facebook community at https://www.facebook.com/ShellWalk1.