Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Qualifying our problems

Nearing the end of a Bible study session this week, the group of 30 (give or take) women were asked if there were anything that we could pray together for.  Several ladies shared things, deep things, sicknesses, children who were suffering, grad school application denials, deaths in families, and a few other requests.  The heavier stuff of life was among us.  Usually I remain quiet among this big group of women, yet something pushed me to say something.

I cleared my throat.  "Well, this isn't in the same category as some of the needs and hurts occurring in this room, but..."

I was interrupted.

"Sandra, you don't need to qualify, it is what it is. It's important."

"Ok, well..."  Dangit, the tears!  I hated that there were tears when normally there were none with thoughts of this.  Struggling to compose myself, I said, "Um, it's my hair.  You may have noticed that I wear hats all of the time.  Well, since my surgery in September, I've been losing my hair.  It's almost all gone."  I had to stop again.  Breathe.   "Anyway, you know, as a woman, it's just hard sometimes."  That's all I could get out.  My eyes were spilling with tears and I stopped.   A friend seated next to me pulled me close, held my hand, and sat with me while we prayed.  

Mine and all of the other requests were prayed over and afterward I had several women approach me, offering their apologies that I was facing this.  And I found myself saying it again, "It's nothing like what So-and-So is facing, so I'm thankful that all it IS is losing my hair, and not something more..."

The friend that interrupted me the first time happened to be standing near me as I was explaining this.  "Sandra, stop qualifying it.  Your hair, it's a big deal.  It's hard.  It's ok to be sad and hurt that it's happening right now.  Don't compare it or yourself to anyone else."

And there it was.


Where did all these tears come from?  Seriously, I haven't once been emotional about my hair up to this point...yet it was such a relief!  I suddenly felt the permission to grieve this loss.  Though seemingly insignificant to the deep losses and struggles that some of these friends faced, knowing that even if it ISN'T life threatening or physically painful, it is still MY loss!  

Still holding dear the deep pain that my friends were facing, I was also given permission to not compare.  I was allowed to feel the pain of being a woman who is mostly bald, in a world that glorifies physical beauty.  And it kind of sucks.

And gosh, I cried.  Thankfully, I was able to keep most of it in until I got into my car (and my sweet two year old asked, "Are you sad, Mommy?").  

It's true that I am lucky.  It is only my hair.  But it's ok for me to grieve AND still trust that He is using this for His good.  And I do.  As I've said before, I'm still choosing to believe that God is using this to place beauty in my life where most of the world would find anything but beauty.  And I am growing in that truth.  I know I am.

Have you found yourself qualifying your struggles in life?  Do you explain to others (and to yourself) that well, it could be so much worse?  It's true! It could be worse, but it is what it is to you.  And it's hard right now, in your life, and that is important.  Important to you, important to those who love you, and most of all important to God.  No need to qualify here.  You have permission to grieve.

Linking up with Shell today at Things I Can't Say


Spikers said...

Thank you for being open and vulnerable today. I was telling someone about Brett's recent cancer recurrence and my grief over losing that "survivor" status. I quickly qualified what I was saying by explaining that we aren't special and thousands of people go through this every day. We won't be alone in the chemo room- we never were before. It's a community of hope and struggle in which we now have membership. She listened thoughtfully and replied, "You know, you're right. You aren't special and many go through this but that doesn't change the fact that YOU are going through this and it hurts and it's scary and frustrating and sad. Don't dismiss this and feel that you aren't allowed to feel." Powerful words that connected with what you shared today. We all do this as women, we qualify our pain because sharing it makes us vulnerable and we are supposed to be strong. Thanks for being vulnerable.

Angie Hensley said...

Sandra, did you write this just for me? After a friend commented on my blog from yesterday, I told her I meant to include in my blog that I constantly berate myself for being sad over my losses because there are others in the world who are experiencing other horrific things that are, seemingly, much worse than what I've gone through. It was almost 27 years ago for Pete's sake! Thank you for reminding me that I have permission to grieve my losses because they are important to me and painful to me even if no one else understands. I'm so sorry about your hair, I wish I could send you some magic pills that would make it grow back. However, you are incredibly beautiful and whether you have hair or not doesn't change that! Love ya!

Jillian said...

Oh, dear sweet Sandra. You are so gifted! I am so proud to call you friend!
Pain is pain. My pain is not better or worse than your pain. It is pain. And what hurts our heart, hurts the heart of God. I am so glad that you were brave, and shared your pain, because when we stop qualifying our pain (or our sin, or our accomplishments for that matter) we become more one in Spirit. We all have pain, we all have sin, and we all have accomplishments. And, we all have hope in Christ, love from the Father, and prayers for each other. Sometimes we look at the passage in Romans 12 as how to accept each other's gifts, but I think it is more about simply accepting each other. With pain. With sin. With celebration.
I love you Sandra, and I will pray for you today. I will pray for your hair, cuz I'm a woman, and I understand hair issues! I will pray for you to have peace in this difficult circumstance, and I will pray that you will become closer to Jesus in this midst of this hurricane in your life.
God bless you, dear sister.

Anonymous said...

Sandra people love you no matter if you have hair or not! It is a very hard thing for women especially because we feel that our hair defines our femininity. And just remember you know it will come back :o) Love you Lonna

Anonymous said...

My dear sweet daughter, Sandra,
My heart aches for you. If I could give you my hair, I would. I have been praying for you and will continue to pray. Because you are such a selfless person, you always worry about everyone else. It is okay to grieve -- we all need to release our sadness, anger, and frustration! I love your more than you know. I am always here if you need me! All my love, Mom

Caitlin MidAtlantic said...

I would agree with your friends that losing your hair is a really big deal. I don't particularly like my hair, but I really can't imagine myself without it. Hair is part of who we are! It's our personality and identity! I hope you find answers to your prayers.

Shell said...

I think it's natural to qualify. I don't have it as bad as... but...

No, no, no. We all have problems. They might not seem as bad as others' but they still cause us to struggle.


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