Accepting the Invitation to Grow and Expand
On a recent episode of The Robcast, the always incredible Rob Bell shared a sentiment that struck a chord:
“Trauma, stress, disruption, and change will always have an invitation within them to grow and expand. If, in those times of trauma, stress, disruption, and change, you do not say yes to the invitation to grow, expand, unfold, move beyond, and transcend, then you will end up regressing, entrenching, digging in your heels, and going the other direction.”
I immediately hit pause and knew I need to listen again, to let these words soak into my soul. And so, I listened again.
And, I listened again.
In the last week, I think I’ve reread those two sentences close to a hundred times. They so deeply and accurately describe the space I lived in for the last year, but more importantly, the place I’m finally ready to enter. I’m ready to accept the invitation to grow and expand.
Everything I read said the grief process takes a year. Today, we are just shy of that year mark since my grandma’s death. Hers was the first major loss I have experienced in my life. With that, trauma, stress, disruption, and change are sentiments that ring true, without a doubt. Change resonates particularly true, after a year of the firsts without a women who played such a key role in my life. Those landmark moments like not calling her on her birthday or the first Easter. Apps like Timehop or the “on this day” feature on Facebook make her absence that much more apparent. This morning, I saw pictures of her and I celebrating Easter two years ago. Tears welled up without warning.
So, yes. Trauma, stress, disruption, and change are uncannily accurate words to describe the last year. Sometimes, I feel weak for allowing her death to impact me so deeply. I’ve always prided my strength and ability to persevere. God knows I tried that route for several months after her passing. She wouldn’t want my life to stop, I told myself. Which is true, of course, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have allowed myself the space to grieve and heal. The so-called weakness feels that much more true when people have had the audacity to say that she was “just” a grandparent and whatever loss they experienced is more significant. I can’t fathom the pain of losing a parent, a sibling, a spouse, but that doesn’t make my hurt any less real or our relationship any less substantial. Grief is not quantifiable.
In that feeling weakness, I didn’t allow myself to grow and expand. And now, I find myself in a place where I realize that I have, in so many ways, gone the other direction of the woman I want to be, someone who I had fought so hard for. I struggled a lot over the last year. But, I didn’t know how to put words to my feelings. Even more, I didn’t quite understand what I was feeling. So many days, I just felt numb. A shell of the person I was and want to be. Through all of that, it felt impossible to use it as a season of growth and expansion. How can I grow and expand on days that I feel like I am just barely surviving?
As I start to find myself on the other side of grief, I am trying to open myself to that invitation. Because I believe it’s not too late. I can use the lessons of the last year and being entering into a healthier way of being. I’m getting that itch, that deep desire to fight for myself again. The numbness is fading and the fog that seemingly overtook me – mind, body, and soul – is clearing. I’m ready, with open arms, to accept the invitation to grow and expand.
I’m ready to stop simply existing and to start living a life that makes me feel proud and excited. I am anxious to throw myself, or at least tentatively wade, into the waters of the things I love, the things that make me come alive and light a fire in my heart. I know that there will still be days when I fall back into grief and I’ll allow myself the grace to experience those days. But, finally, I am ready for those days to be the exception and not the rule.