We stood in line a few day ago at Walgreens to get flu shots. Our kids picked out the small toy they wanted to get for making it through their shot. One picked a remote control walking puppy and the other chose tiny football player figures.
They called our name and we crammed into a tiny room with the medical staffer. Through their masks, I could see the apprehension on my kids' faces. Dad bravely went first and then it was our daughter's turn. She hesitated but eventually sat down, asked me to sit next to her and stuck out her arm.
Her brother inched as far away as he could, as if he could disappear through the wall. We patiently worked with him until he was (mostly) ready. The staffer reminded him, "If you relax your arms, it will hurt less." Isn't that such a counter-intuitive thing? "You're about to stab me with a needle. Yes, I'm going to relax my arm and body."
Our son held his arm afterwards as we headed to the toy aisle.
He held his arm as we got into the car.
He held his arm as we walked into our home.
He held his arm as he tried to play.
He held his arm as he ate dinner.
He held his arm as he got ready for bed.
He held his arm in the morning when we snuggled.
He held his arm as he got ready for online school.
This continued through the day and I smiled when I saw him.
Yes, flu shots make our muscles sore. That's real. It's uncomfortable.
It also reminded me of another human truth.
Are we more committed to our pain or to our healing?
There have been seasons I've walked around holding my pain long after the initial wave had passed. My pain had become comfortable. Known. Safe. I knew how to navigate my pain. I knew the contours of it. Sure, it hurt, but I was more committed to what was quickly becoming normal than I was to possible healing of the pain.
It's scary to heal.
Healing invites us to step out of something we've come to understand (even if we're shaking our fists at it!).
Healing invites us to own the truth that we're stronger than we think we are.
Healing invites us to trust the Love that holds us.
Sometimes, we'd rather protect our pain because it makes us feel in control.
Good news / bad news: Your pain doesn't need your protection. Your pain wants your attention.
Get quiet. Go on a walk. Lock the bathroom door. Get up early. Stay up late. Do whatever you can to find some quiet.
Take a few deep breaths in and out. Invite your attention into your body.
Ask your heart what it wants you to see. It wants to tell you.
Listen. If tears rise, let them do what they do. If a phrase rises, listen. If you sense an emotion, listen. If it feels blank, much grace.
[ A prayer for when we're protecting our pain ]
God, I give you the pain I've been holding.
You see it. You know it.
You see me. You know me.
With a deep breath in,
I release my grip on this pain.
Show me something new about it.
Breathe grace into it.
Help me know it's okay to let go
And open my hands to healing
Even if it heals in a way
I never expected.
P.S. My kids just climbed off my lap, now complaining about how much their band-aids hurt. Here's to ripping off the band-aids on our pain. We've got this. It's time.