Today I allow myself to not fake “good”.
I am giving myself a day void of pretending that I'm ok, and will not accept the guilt as my critical self
tries to convince me that I am not enough if I don't keep going and power through.
It has been three days since our Feed My Starving Children MobilePack event.
Three days since we saw nearly 500 volunteers walk through the doors of our church and work together to feed hungry children around the world.
My heart aches to tell you all about the ways we saw God’s amazing hand moving through the room and the many joy filled moments we experienced.
And I will. I'll share all of those things soon.
But for today I'd rather tell you about a side most people don't see or think about. I'd rather offer you a glimpse behind the curtain into what life is like when the emotional high of such an incredible event begins to fade and leaves instead pain and exhaustion.
And if you're wondering, yes, I struggled with myself on whether or not I should share this with you.
I mean really??? I'm going to complain about being “tired”?
I just witnessed the very best of humanity. I should be focusing on all of those wonderful people and the good that they did. I spent the weekend surrounded by reminders of how hunger will devastate communities and families. I should be shouting from the rooftops my own gratitude for blessings and full cupboards.
All of those things are true and are felt deeply by me.
My choosing to look at something else at this brief moment does not make these wonderful and good things any less amazing or important.
It only means that I am human.
It means that as I sit here in my living room this evening I do feel grateful and blessed but am also consumed with a very real focus of simply getting through the pain and through this day.
I know that many of you have found yourselves in this same crushing place.
You see friends, last weekend has taken it’s toll on me.
The joyful enthusiasm and the intense sounds of the packing room, the continuous standing and bending and lifting, the short nights and long days, the rushes of adrenaline and love I felt flood me at the start and end of each shift, and the pressure of holding back tears when my mind would wander to the children we were feeding, have all drained me.
The poor choice I made to be lax with my eating habits and self care because I was "too busy" has left me swollen and heavy-limbed.
The excitement that sustained me through the weekend has been stolen and replaced with pain.
When you are chronically ill it is not always possible to be involved in what is important to you without pushing yourself past the limits your illness has set.
When you are chronically ill you will have moments when your heart absolutely refuses to say no and so you chose to step forward accepting that you'll suffer consequences.
I made my choices last weekend. I know my limits and I chose to disregard them. And, I do not regret it one bit. It was a truly beautiful weekend filled with beautiful people doing incredible things. I would not have wanted to miss being a part of that for anything and I look forward to doing it all again.
But for the past few days I have been hurting on a level that I am unsure I could describe to you.
I am not seeking out anyone's pity. Please do not think that.
I share this with the intention to encourage those of you who also suffer and to ask for understanding and grace from those of you who do not.
I share this to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to you who give of yourselves despite any pain and to remind you that sometimes it's ok to not be ok.
And, I share this to remind you that we never truly know what someone else may be going through. The pretty pictures and smiles show us just a tiny glimpse into someone's world and we forgot about the depth of minutes we are not witness to.
When you live with daily pain and fatigue you learn how very important it is to dig deep for the extra energy needed to smile and step out into the world as the best version of you that can be mustered up that day.
You learn that “good” is the best answer to the casual “how are you?”.
And you know that you must cling to joy and keep your blessings in the forefront of your mind or you risk allowing the pain to completely consume you.
Often the smile and the joy comes naturally. But there are some days that it is forced. Some days we have to fake it. We fake it because we fear that if we don't we will be tossing ourselves into a downward spiral of bitterness and self pity. We fake it to avoid the looks of sympathy from well meaning loved ones and the glances of judgment from others. We fake it to prove to ourselves that we are more than this illness.
But you know what? There are times when faking it is just too much to ask of myself and I am unable to find the smile. There are times that my body is too weak and heavy for me to lug myself into the shower and my head pounds so relentlessly that I can't bring myself to care that I have not washed my hair for three days. There are times when my brain is too mushy to answer a phone call or respond to your email. There are times that I am grateful if I can just find the energy and grit to limp from the chair to the bed and back again.
Sometimes these low and crushing days are caused by my own choices, both good and bad, and sometimes they are simply the unwanted and unpredictable nature of being sick.
Thankfully they never last long. I can’t let them, or the pain and this illness wins.
In a day or two I will have the smile back on my face, and it will be genuine. I will be walking without cringing and I will be determined that no one will detect my limp. I will be showered and ready to tackle all that is in front of me. And I will again be focused on all of the blessings in my life. In a day or two I will look back on the weekend with nothing but fond memories and happiness and will look forward with only hope.
But not today.
Today I just want someone to gently hug me and tell me that there is nothing needed of me and no one expects my smile.
Today I can't fake “good”.