RISE: Get Up Off the Floor

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“It was in the getting up and walking forward that I found the process of healing.”

By Elena Pellizzaris | Twitter: @e_pellizzaris

We had been married nearly seven years when he told me he was filing for divorce.

I wish I could say it came as a surprise–but no, I had been expecting it. We had spent the previous year or so trapped in a vicious cycle of loving and then leaving, of breaking each other’s hearts and then trying to pick up the pieces.

But just because I knew it was coming, didn’t make it hurt any less.

If you’ve ever experienced the ugliness of divorce, the rejection of a loved one, the heartache that comes in the aftermath of a failed relationship, you know the kind of pain I’m talking about. It’s a pain like nothing else in this world. I didn’t even know it was possible to hurt that much. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. I cried all day, every day. I didn’t want to see my friends or my family; all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball and … well, bawl.

Weeks went by, and then months. I kept waiting for the pain to pass, for the crushing force I felt in my chest to heal so I could finally move on. I berated myself for being weak, for crying so many tears, for feeling hopeless and stuck. I figured I should be over it already. I tried to pull myself up by my metaphorical bootstraps and trek on, but after a day or so, I’d crumble and fall, and then the cycle would start all over again.

Then one day, five little words exploded in my consciousness, and my life completely changed. I remember I was sprawled out on the living room carpet, shaking in my grief, tears soaking into the floor. I was praying and desperately seeking answers. “It’s over, God. It’s really over. What in the world do I do now?”

I cried. And then I heard Him, heard those five words, clear as day: “Get up off the floor.”

I was instantly reminded of a story in the Bible in which Jesus healed an invalid who had been stuck in the same place for nearly forty years (see John 5: 1-18). Jesus spoke directly to the man who was seeking healing and directly told him to “pick up his mat and walk.” And that day in the living room, He was telling me essentially the same thing. He wanted me to pick myself up, dust myself off, and move forward. Even if it still hurt. Even if I still cried.

Before, I was trying to deny the grief that I felt. But here, Jesus was saying that it was okay to feel the pain; it was not okay, though, to let myself be stuck in it. I could be honest with the sadness and anger and disappointment that I felt, but I couldn’t stay in it forever. It was in the getting up and walking forward that I found the process of healing.

As I look back at those years (yes, my grieving process took years), I can scarcely believe I made it through. I remember feeling like my life was over, because everything I had known and took solace in up to that point, was taken from me. But more than that, I remember the people who held my hand as I shook with sadness, who sat down with me in all my emotional mess and listened and prayed and loved me through the ugliest years of my life.

I remember a few precious, godly friends of mine who told me, “Even though this feels like the end, I promise you that it’s not.” They reminded me that Jesus was right there in the mess with me, and that He promised beauty from ashes, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair and joy that comes in the morning.

I didn’t believe them then, but now that I’m on the other side, I see how right my friends were. Every time I shook my fist at God because He felt so absent during my mourning, He tenderly reminded me of His constant presence. He walked through my healing with me, holding my hand when I needed Him and carrying me when I couldn’t continue alone. God helped me come to terms with my own contributions to the downfall of my marriage, and He taught me how to fully forgive my ex-husband for his.

God revealed to me that life, as beautiful as it can be, is also messy and that there will be moments of heartache. But He also promised that brighter days always follow the storms, and that it’s truly possible to hear Him through our pain. He promised that joy comes after—and even sometimes in—the mourning.

__________________

About Elena:

Elena is frequently smiling and usually caffeinated. She loves words, Jesus, coffee shops, sunshine and thriftstores. She spends most of her days teaching orphans in Liberia, West Africa. Elena blogs at elenateresaann.wordpress.com and tweets at @e_pellizzaris.

Image credit: Jordan Thaman via Andrea Rose Photography

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  • This is so beautiful, seeing Jesus in the mess – beauty in the broken.

    • thanks so much for reading, sweet saskia. i agree:: it’s often in the messy that we find the beautiful, in the darkness that we find light.

  • Rebecca Pratt

    Beautiful Elena. Thanks for sharing your precious story! Love it! So real and true!

    • thanks, Rebecca, for all the love and encouragement! you’re one who has taught me to be brave with my story, and i am so grateful for that!

  • As someone “sprawled out on the living room carpet, shaking in my grief, tears soaking into the floor” I needed to hear this. Thank you, sweet Elena. I’m going to (shower and then) “get up off the floor(bed).”

    • you are so very welcome, lovely. i’m so sorry for your pain, but i know it can be redeemed and used for beauty. praying for you today, sweet friend. xo

  • Angie

    My parents split up two years ago after 23 years of marriage. I am slowly learning that it is most definitely okay to feel the grief however painful, and that God holds us through it all. It’s so hard though to find that line between feeling our grief and sitting in it; and it’s so hard not to put a timeline on grief. Thank you for sharing your story and all that you’ve learned 🙂

    • i am sorry to hear that you are hurting, dear angie. but please hear me when i say: it’s okay. sad things SHOULD make us grieve; if they don’t, there’s a problem. and everyone deals with their grief differently, and on different “timelines.” allow yourself time and space to cry, scream, shout, whatever you need to do–and trust that Jesus is with you through it all. and when it’s time to start walking forward, He’ll still be there, holding your hand as you get back on your feet.

      much love to you, girl. xo