You’d be amazed to know what happens when you sit down, shut up, and pay attention.
You notice things. You finish writing a confessional blog about sitting with your grief, walk a few steps to your bed, lie down, open the book you have been reading on and off for over six months, and the very next words that you read are these:
Maybe grieving over plans changed is part of the plan to change us.*
Then, after sleeping for just a few hours, you hop in your car and turn on a podcast** to hear two women discussing shame and vulnerability. You’re stunned because as they share their failures, you feel somehow drawn into the discussion like you’re a member of the sisterhood of the fallen.
As the podcast finishes, you arrive at a restaurant to meet a woman for lunch — someone you’ve never met before — she offhandedly mentions her struggle with autoimmune disease, and before you know it, you’re choking out something like, “It’s so frustrating because I like to be a positive fun person, but right now, I don’t feel like that person.”
Then, a couple hours later, in a session with your therapist, you hear yourself recounting the most mortifying moments of your week when your child brought her friend to your house ahead of schedule to ‘surprise you’ and you made them leave so that you could finish cleaning and you weren’t joking. When the therapist says, “so we’re going to work on your need to be in control and your ability to be kind to yourself,” you sit in stunned amazement that 1) you actually confessed the story out loud and, 2) she gets you and this is only the second time you’ve spoken to her.
You leave your session, drive through Starbucks to buy a tall lemonade before picking up your four-year-old great nephew and taking him home for dinner. After dinner you chat about serious things like whether or not a four-year-old can actually run faster than a race car, then hear your nephew, the four-year-old’s daddy, say “you are such a blessing to us” as he walks you to your car.
You drive home, wiping tears off your cheeks because you are overwhelmed at the richness of the day, walk into your house, plop down on a chair next to your husband, and try to give him some snippets that can somehow convey the way God spoke to you all day long, but you are so exhausted from the last twenty-four hours that you can barely make coherent sentences.
After a total knock-out sleep, you wake up and eat a bowl of oatmeal on the way to your physical therapy appointment. Then, the angel who is your therapist places her hands directly on the exact spots that have been screaming for attention. She just barely touches you, but the warmth and intention radiating from her hands moves from your skin through your joints and directly into your heart.
It’s several hours later, after you have baked banana bread, prepared chicken curry, drank tea with a friend, choked up at the opening chapel service on your school’s campus, talked with three out of four of your children, made major financial decisions with your husband, cried over a minor miracle, started crocheting a new afghan, and laughed at the Weekend Update, when you realize that for the last two days God has been placing His hands directly on the exact spots that have been screaming for attention. He has just barely touched them, but the warmth and intention radiating from His hands has moved directly into your heart.
That’s what happens when you sit down, shut up, and pay attention.
I think I might try sitting with this a little longer.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
*Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way.
** Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love, “Episode 2: Brenae Brown”