Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . It Hitting

An approaching storm front we captured in the Outer Banks this summer

When you get bad news...or sad news...what do you do? It's inevitable that we run into these times--they're part of life, much as we wish they weren't.

We're going to have those days when we cry.

We're going to have those days when we yell.

We're going to have those days when we feel like the best course is to hide from the world.

Ever since I was a middle-schooler, I've pondered my own reactions to these times. I remember when we got the news that my grandfather had cancer. My parents cried. My sister cried. There was much hugging. There was much talk.

I closed myself into my room with a pencil and a notebook, and I wrote poem called, "Why Do I Smile?" I happen to have it on my computer, surprisingly, LOL, so I'll copy it:

The days melt together in a turmoil of ache.
Their only distinction is a separate pain.
I feel that my future’s not mine to make.
So why do my dreams suspend–unslain?
Each person has their own losses;
Each deals with them in their own way.
Most cry as they carry their crosses.
Why do I smile and laugh it away?
My world has diminished to shatters,
But my eyes are as dry as the breeze.
As hope lies around me in tatters,
I sing as I fall to my knees.
Why can’t I mourn as my mother,
Or weep it away as my friend?
Why must I resort to another—
Stronger?—more miserable end?
I can’t see into tomorrow
So I don’t know that I’ll make it that mile.
Even I can’t see past my own sorrow.
So tell me, why do I smile?

Thirteen-year-old me didn't really have the answer. Thirty-one-year-old me doesn't either, but it hasn't changed. I still, upon getting upsetting news, am more likely to smile and assure everyone I'm okay than cry and let them assure me it will be okay. And it's not a facade--that's my genuine, gut reaction. The eternal optimist. The faith, perhaps, holding me up.

But it always hits a month or two later. Every single time I've gotten a rejection on a project I thought was sold, for instance (which has happened way too many times, LOL), I've experienced this. I can smile and assure my critique partners it's no big thing. I know that God's got something better for me. That it was no surprise to Him. I know it, and so I can smile.

Until I can't anymore. When it hits, it hits like a waterfall, tumbling over me without relent. Those are the days when I mourn for what was lost, or for what I know will be lost soon. I grieve for what cannot be. I look at the projects or dreams or loved ones snatched from me, and I ache. I whimper. I want to cry, but by then I can't seem to find any tears. (This is why Roseanna cries maybe twice a year. Usually over something stupid like forgetting to pay a bill, LOL.)

It's so hard not to be discouraged in those times. And in the throes of discouragement, what you know doesn't often help, because you're too overwhelmed by what you feel. If only the two could line up!

As you might guess, I'm having a delayed reaction this week, LOL. Nothing as terrible as the impending loss of my grandfather, just a bunch of disappointments adding up, and the old ones that I thought settled coming to add their voices to the mix. One of those days, one of those weeks.

And so I ponder. Again. I wonder why I deal with things the way I do. Is it the right way? The wrong way? The strong way, the weak way? I don't know. But it's my way. It's my way to smile until it hits, to smile again as soon as I can. It's my way to mourn quietly.

This time, I'm sharing the feeling if not all the reasons, not in a bid for sympathy, but in a laying-bare, to see if it helps in the healing. In a question of how you manage these days, these weeks, so I can listen for the whisper of the great Healer in the voices of my friends.

So please, share. What do you do when the tempest strikes?


  1. I first have the practical thoughts of plans, the next steps, what needs to be done or fixed to accommodate the new change. Then later it's sorrow and melancholy. I don't cry. Sometimes it's a year or more in tween the crying moments.

    Thanks for sharing and being honest and vulnerable. I know that's hard to do. God will sustain you through your disappointments. I know that you already know this, but sometimes we all need a little encouragement. You are blessed, dear friend.

    1. And always I thank you for your encouragement. Good to know you're like-minded in how we deal with these things. But yes, onward!

  2. Thank you for sharing. I am that way also - smile until it hits. All the hidden disappointments, hurts, feelings finally release themselves once they have become too much. And that is about twice a year or less.
    My dad had discovered cancer on his hand - my mom cried, I smiled and said "thank goodness it's not worse". I have always thought something was wrong with me - being positive about life's quirks.
    Thank you for letting me know I'm not the only one who smiles and laughs it away!! (great poem) :) You are truly blessed.

    1. Nothing wrong with you at all, Susan! God just makes some of us this way, and though we know how hard it hits when it finally catches up with us, hopefully our smiles brighten the days of those around us when they're in the crying stage. Good to know I'm not alone in this too! Thanks for commenting. =) And 13-year-old me thanks you for the complement on the poem, LOL.