There is a theme I’ve been noticing as I talk with people these days. It’s not new, but it is standing out a little more often in these culturally rushed and busy days of ours.
The theme is this: People tend to think there is something wrong with them if they are not progressing quickly through their current situation. Whether it’s a difficult work situation, a troubled relational issue, or a period of extended grief, many people are convinced that quickly is the only reasonable and truly healthy way forward.
They may hear from others echoes of the same: Are you still struggling with that? How long do you think it will take you to get through this? Man, this is taking a long time. This is an interesting, but unhelpful conversation.
Granted, no one likes to suffer for long periods of time, but adding shame or blame to the situation only makes it heavier.
Remember the old school permission slips we used to get back in the day? It gave you the authority to go to the restroom, to leave early, or to arrive late. With permission slip in hand, you knew you were covered and could do what you needed to do.
I often find myself having “permission slip” type conversations with people. For example, a “permission slip” encouragement might look like this: Grief is a very real process. No one, including you, can direct its course. You might consider letting it take as long as it takes for you to heal. Don’t ever let anyone else tell you it’s time to get over it. Everyone moves through grief in their own way.
It is hard enough to go through the stages of grief and make your way to moving on in a new way. We don’t need to make it hard on ourselves by applying an unnatural timeline to the process.
I understand that sometimes issues may drag on too long. There may be healthier and shorter time limits on certain issues. And, for that, you will likely need wise counsel. But for many things, it is simply okay for them to take as long as they take.
What’s the rush? Let the suffering do its work in you. This takes courage and hope, but in the long run you will have participated in your own transformational process. You are being shaped more and more into the image of Christ.