I’ve noticed that we often refer to challenging things in their lives as something that we are “getting through.” For instance, “getting through this semester,” or “getting me through the grief of losing a loved one,” etc…
This language is peculiar, suggesting that we remain the same as we journey in the midst of challenges. But are we really the same before and after challenges? It would be nearly impossible to think that we are static, unchanging in the midst of these profound moments. It’s as if the nature of these things remains “outside” of “me,” that “I cannot wait to get back to how things were before this thing happened.”
In particular, with the category of grief, I’ve met two types of people. Those who try to get through the experience often search for the meaning why they lost a loved one, perhaps will blame the experience on God, a doctor’s prognosis, etc. They feel wronged or vandalized. The result ends in brokenness, guilt, anger, bitterness, etc. Others, however, see the experience as a window of clarity. A profound event has happened and instead of saying “Why did this happen?” they ask, “Who will I be now that they are gone?” The trajectory of these two characters can not only determine personal health, but also communal experience. Much damage and repair has happened after persons experience tremendous loss.
Perhaps we are not supposed to “get through” things, but they are supposed to get through to us?
What if we are being imaged by all that happens to us? And what if that is really the meaning of it all? As we absorb challenges, rather than imagine getting through them, we take on a different shape, leave things behind us, gather a different perspective, win new friends, become more empathetic and compassionate, etc.
The next time you hear me say, “I’m going to get through this.” Go ahead and remind me that it is trying to get through to me.