Bruises hurt to be touched. They exist in all of us. Ignored or festered, we get to decide what to do with them. Sometimes we have to guard them and protect them. Sometimes we need to feel them because without acknowledgement they won’t heal.
The question is when? When do we dive in to understand what hurts and why. I’m not sure if that is up to us or if the bruises let us know when they can actually be felt, understood and allowed to heal.
The one year anniversary of my diagnosis has come and gone. It crept up on me like the wave that I didn’t expect, crashing on the shore and sweeping me away with it. I couldn’t stop it, I didn’t understand it, but I felt overwhelmed by it.
The grief took me back in time. I felt the emotions of a year ago fresh again. The unthinkable happened to me. My body betrayed me, believing I had done everything in my power to prevent breast cancer had betrayed me.
The second time is harder than the first. I can’t bring back what has been lost. I have to build something new.
This is the hard part of feeling, of sorting, of learning to control my thoughts that want to run wild with fear. It is an uncomfortable feeling; understanding and seeing. Relearning how to exist post cancer. Asking myself the hard questions. I keep walking, keep dealing, keep working towards healing.
Sometimes that’s the most important work of our lives, rebuilding when something has been shattered. I think sometimes we ignore the rebuilding part.
Maybe it’s because it can be the hardest part. It takes the most patience with ourselves and the most understanding of ourselves. When it’s time to rebuild it forces us to deal with the bruises.
Maybe there are things about me and things about God that I will only understand if I keep believing when I don’t see. Isn’t that faith anyway, believing when you cannot see? Is he important enough? Do I choose to believe he is there instead of relying on my feelings to decide that? How short sided of me to only believe God is good when I feel good.
I am acutely aware that I am not promised tomorrow. Fighting cancer twice does that.
Allow me to be the friend in your life that encourages you to let those bruises be felt. You have it in you to be brave, to encounter them and begin the process of healing. We don’t have to limp for the rest of our lives.
So, what do you do when you don’t feel God? When you know he is there because he said he would be, but all the ways you have felt him before come up short and empty.
The question must be asked, If I don’t feel him, what do I believe about him? God has not ceased to exist. His generosity towards us has not changed. Our pain is the entry point for his grace and healing over our lives. He tells us in Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
What hurts? Why? What do you believe about those hurts, those devastations? What is true about them? What is not true about them?
We could stay busy and distracted, never allowing the bruises to be felt. But, if we do that, all the tenderness in us will be kept under wraps. What a cheated way to live, unable to truly connect with others and most importantly unable to connect with God.
A protected bruise can be healed, a shattered heart can be restored. If it feels like it can’t happen, it can. We just have to pass through the pain first and then be patient with the process.
We have to feel the bruises and know what they are before we can heal from them.
Cancer treatment is something you survive. It feels like it takes and it takes until there is nothing left to take. Stripped of control, of my health and my identity, I couldn’t see much beyond the grief of what felt lost, even though it was saving my life. I wanted to and I tried, but I couldn’t see through it. Not yet.
But like the sun dissipates the fog, the warmth of God’s grace over my life is dissipating the loss. It started with the bruises, feeling the bruises. How I rebuild from here matters. It matters for me, it matters for the people in my life that I love. It matters.
I can’t do it on my own. I’m trusting in a God who loves me, who has been here with me every step of the way. He will do it with me. This is my promise.
“So do not fear. For I am with you. I will strengthen you and help you.” Isaiah 41:10
photo cred: ktconing