Saturday, July 9, 2011

Is "Moving On" Overrated?

Many months ago I found myself candidly asking the question: Is moving on overrated? I found myself thinking things like: What’s the big deal about moving on? Isn’t that just a value judgment on someone’s journey? (namely, MY journey?) I mean think about it: what’s the worst that could come of you if you didn’t “move on”? You could still function in society, you could appear normal, and you would have the benefit of missing the pain involved with moving on. You could relish in the deep love of your past relationship, even explore its many facets in greater detail. You could explore loss and gain rich perspective. Maybe even write a book and be famously known as “The One Who Did Not Move On.”

In fact, I don’t even think one could come up with a spiritual reason behind the value of moving on. Perhaps if staying put meant being stuck in anger and bitterness, then you do run the risk of grieving as one who has no hope, which doesn’t speak well of faith. But there is no spiritual discipline called “moving on” and there is no commandment that says “thou shalt move on after thou hast lost a loved one.”

And what makes a “mover on-er” more noble than a “stayer put-er”? These are simply honest questions one has in the journey.


A few weeks ago I had an image pop into my head that somewhat describes what I’m feeling these days. I saw my feet firmly planted in the Dana/Barry era, with the next era just on the other side of a line. I then took one foot and barely touched the top of the grass on the other side of that line, just enough to bend the grass blades…and then I snapped my foot right back to its comfortable spot in the Dana/Barry era. This is what my mind and my heart have been doing.

I think, with that mental image, I have begun to process ever so slightly the emotional, spiritual and even physical aspects of what “moving on” might look like.

[Side note: we need a better phrase for “moving on.” …maybe moving through, or journeying on, or journeying through. Or re-hatching, or emerging, or re-purposing. Something. Anything besides “moving on.” That phrase seems so flippant to me; yet there is not one ounce of flippancy in the actual act of “moving on.” Maybe a new phrase could be a windfall contribution to society out of this journey.]

In processing the emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of moving on, I’ve been hit with the thought that “moving on” does not come naturally. There will always be some element of inertia to overcome, an intentional step that is to be taken. Thankfully, God seems to be nudging me a bit, and maybe that’s what I’ve needed. Somewhere in my journey over the past few months, and I can’t pinpoint exactly when, I had the gracious moment of having words injected into my mind that seemed to come directly from God. And the words were this:

“Recover well.”

Obviously when you think you’re getting some words from God you’d like to get a little more detail than that. But this is all I got. And in God’s infinite wisdom, it’s obviously all I need.

There is hope in those words. You can hear God saying, “There will be life after recovery. You will be used. You need to recover well.”

So what does “recovering well” look like? Here’s what I have so far:

a. I will take all that I am to become, all that Dana built into me, and let myself be molded into a healthy vibrant soul. I will not let one facet of our relationship go unused, not let one thread of our love left dangling. Everything will continue to build into who and what I’m becoming.

b. I will keep bitterness and anger at bay. Thankfully, I feel I’ve done “better than the average bear” on this. And that’s a God thing. On paper, I have good reason to be bitter. But, in reality, I’m not. Regarding anger: I’m not angry at God. That has somehow, mercifully, eluded me. What I do find myself getting angry at: gas pumps that don’t give me a receipt, my vacuum cleaner when it gets hung up in the closet, my keys when I can’t find them. It’s more the emotional load that tends to bubble to the top, not specific anger toward God. And I’m getting better at handling that emotional load (the local gas mart cashiers seem to appreciate that).

c. I will explore the strata that this journey has taken me to. Loss takes you places you do not want to go. But here’s the thing: you might as well take advantage or your perspective while you’re there. Yes, I would have preferred no loss. But I did have loss. So, I will touch the deep geology of this journey that I see, geology that I would not have seen otherwise, and I will take advantage of what I see. I am committed to learning what I’m to learn, and to teach what I learn.

I feel that at times I’ve had glimpses of what “moving on” looks like. At first glance, it looks hard, but rich. Unnerving, but invigorating. Risky, but peaceable. Difficult, but necessary.

I see it as necessary in this respect: All that I am becoming because of this journey needs a place to play out. I will love deeper. I will laugh harder. I will cherish greater. I will care. I will enjoy. I will laugh.

I was at my folks' house this past Fourth of July and I noticed a medium-sized tree smack in the middle of the front yard. It's a tree that's hard to miss. Yet I hadn't remembered seeing it before. Then I pictured how big it would have been five years ago, when this journey really got started. It would have been small enough then to miss. Now I'm seeing it. I think I'm waking up.

And so, maybe “journeying through” (my first go at a new phrase; I also like “re-purposing”) isn’t overrated. Perhaps it does have value. But that is not for me to judge.

Thank you for your continued prayers and help with this journey.