reconciling things

“Allow it all to happen: beauty and terror…” Rilke

Three years ago I wrote this, exhausted by the life I was trying to hold together. I was crumbling under the weight of the expectations I put on myself, that the world was only too happy to reinforce. I was one big paper cut and the world was a lemon. However, one night in my journal rather than expressing hurt, it was all indignation. What I felt was all the injustice of my circumstance and the expectation that I was so supposed to hold it all together with no resources except what grit I could glean from my barren heart. And this angsty little quasi-blues lyric came out.

Sister, if you are struggling with a decision right now to stay or go, remember this: the most important place for you to stay is at the foot of the cross. One thing we can take from Passion Week (last week!) is that women knew how to stay at the foot of the cross when most of the men fled. Fitting then that the first person to be made aware of his resurrection was a woman. Resurrection comes to those who don’t run from their pain.

Being present for Jesus in his Passion, uniting my suffering with his, is the only way I made it through those days—and all the days of betrayal and rejection that were still to come. Here’s the little lyric:

You chose flight

And I chose fight

It’s not a surprise

Because women stay

You gave up

I gave in

It’s not a surprise

Because women stay

You chose to run

I chose to stand

It’s not a surprise

Because women stay

They say men are brave

And women are weak

At the foot of the cross

It’s women who stayed

They say men are strong

And women are soft

When the going gets tough

It’s women who stay

When I was doula-ing I once took a workshop in walking a person through loss or stillbirth. The training and videos were intense. At one point it was so extremely uncomfortable that that I thought I would just get up and wait in the hallway until that piece of the video was over. Or perhaps that was a convenient time to use the bathroom. Then I thought, “The woman in this film did not get to excuse herself from her grief. She couldn’t just wait it out. She had to be there and walk through it. If I am ever to learn to be present for someone like that, I better keep my butt in this chair.” I willed myself to stay in the uncomfortable.

I don’t like fighting. I don’t like uncomfortable conversations. I don’t like confrontation.

But I love people. There are many who say they love people, but really they just love pleasant situations that don’t cause them any discomfort. They love what they want people to be, not what people actually are.

So I stay in uncomfortable. I point at elephants in the room. And I talk about difficult things. I make peace with being awkward.

The difference I learned as my marriage ended is that I can choose to stay, but I cannot choose for someone else. They can choose to bail. That is their decision. The conditions of staying may not be in line with their goals or values. Honoring that choice is part of the risk you take in any relationship. Letting people go, while choosing to stay, is one of the hardest lessons in my life.

Wherever you are today and whatever awkward, uncomfortable, or sad situation you find yourself, know that you are not alone. In the oft repeated words of one of my wise friends, “Invite Jesus into your suffering. Ask him to be the Master of your emotional house. Ask him what he wants to keep and what he wants you to let go of. Whatever is left, ask him to feel it all with you.”

One thought on “Women Stay

  1. All of this is so good, Daja.

    I think I’ll copy some of this down in my journal. This line is certainly a keeper: “Resurrection comes to those who don’t run from their pain.”


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