A small bit of progress today. Too small to be even considered a baby step, really. More like a shuffle forward. Not a fun shuffle, like the newest dance step. The painful kind of shuffle you work on in physical therapy after you’ve been in a coma for months and your muscles no longer remember how to walk.
It’s how I measure progress now, amidst the fog. In teeny tiny grains of success. A few weeks ago, I had my ‘first day I got to where I was going without crying all my makeup off’. That was a nice one. Not that it happens every time, but it’s infuriating to wake up crying. To start your day off crying and tell yourself “Suck it up. You’ve got things to do today.” So you take a deep breath and your wash your face and you try to apply just enough makeup to hide a little of the damage. Usually, it looks so bad when you’re done you cry again, have to wash it off, and start over. You finish the best you can, get in the car, and think you’re ready. You can conquer the day. Then you cry all that makeup off and end up a swollen, smeary, splotchy mess by the time you get to where you’re going.
I made it through a church service for the first time in 8 months without getting so upset I had to leave. (I have sat through a few others, sporadically, but cried a rather embarrassing amount. Just because I was sitting in a place that leaving would have caused more of a scene than staying still and crying). Not the good crying, the all ‘I’m so in touch with God’ crying. But unhappy, angry, bitter crying.
That is not how I want to feel in church. I do want to feel in touch with God. Or reflective about myself, what the message means to me, or comforted, or enlightened, or…something.
I didn’t feel any of those today. Not really. But I didn’t feel (too) unhappy or bitter. Mostly, I felt neutral. Like an observer. But that’s better than it was.
I was able to pray some. As I stood there (unmoved) looking over a huge room full of people, most of them completely into the worship that was going on, I started thinking. I figure at least one other person in that room today had to feel how I felt last week. And all the weeks before that. That somewhere in that room, there was a person that was so hurt and broken, so desperate for some comfort or healing or change that they were willing to stand there among other people, alone in a room of many. That they think every week “Surely this week something will be said to change my heart, to change their heart” and leave feeling worse than they came. That they will debate if it’s more embarrassing to sit there and cry as quiet as you can, or to get up and walk out with the tears streaming down their face.
So I prayed for that person. That they might have some comfort from whatever it is they are suffering.
The first (sort of) unselfish thought I’ve been able to have during church in awhile. I didn’t leave feeling worse than when I came in. I made it through.