When I Try

Last Sunday morning, I saw Brené Brown’s Instagram sticky note announcing a 15-minute streamed service that evening. I told my kids that we’d all be “attending” together.

On Sunday afternoon, my boys and I crowded around my husband’s cell phone to watch. Surprisingly, even my husband stopped what he was doing and listened in.

My heart felt so light as I listened to the service, singing along when music played. I felt both invigorated and inspired. Come what may, I’d be overflowing with empathy and kindness, having had such a wonderful opportunity to perspective!

I then watched the Democratic presidential primary debate between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

All that gratitude flowing through my heart seemed to evaporate from the premises. I went from compassionate to combative in a matter of moments, ultimately ending the two-hour debate feeling as if I were being pursued by a sabertooth tiger.

I awakened Monday morning still feeling on edge. Upon a little reflection, I determined that the debate hadn’t been at all conducive to my health, and that I’d need to instead opt for post-debate highlights in the future.

I soon remembered how I’d felt ending Brown’s service. I chuckled, recalling how great I’d felt after that and how quickly the feeling had fled while the debate streamed in my living room.

Except … it hadn’t fled, I realized when I touched in with my heart.

The feelings of grace, possibility, and gratitude were still there. They hadn’t departed so much as gone, briefly, into hiding, emerging again only when it was safe to do so.

Today, four days later, I’m still able to touch those same feelings, when I remember to try.

When I try, I’m able to recall snuggling side-by-side with my older son, and to ride the sense of connection and joy at seeing a flood of “and also with you” roll across the phone’s screen.

When I try, I’m able to recall my younger son hunched over a piece of paper, on which he drew a cross flanked by hearts. I smile remembering him placing the paper next to the phone to make our dining room feel more like church.

When I try, I’m able to recall the wonder at sharing the experience with thousands of people around the world.

Apart but together, we were touching in with something compassionate. Kind. Hopeful.

There’s plenty that’s hard, and I won’t turn my eyes from that. But Monday, I learned

that I must also remember to turn my eyes–and heart–toward what heals.

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