I’ve been thinking this week about the good things we receive through an experience of hard things.
No matter how good the good thing is we receive through what’s hard…it doesn’t magically make the hard things good. Or transform them. Sometimes (most times) they’re bad in and of themselves.
Things like Covid. And lockdown. And back pain. And deaths of people we care about. And depression and addictions and abuse and trauma.
Those are bad, bad things. In themselves there is nothing to rejoice in, and everything to grieve in. Or hate. Or work against.
But always, always out of those bad experiences and hard things, comes good. Good that we wouldn’t have gotten any other way.
It doesn’t make the bad thing okay. It doesn’t wipe away all the pain that came with it. But it gives you something to turn your attention to, something to be grateful for.
My back went out on Sunday. It happens now and then in my life, pretty rarely actually and I’m thankful for that. Last time it happened was maybe 5-7 years ago. It feels like an instant twang, like a switch was flicked, and suddenly i can barely walk, or I’m lying on the floor because that’s all I can do.
I tried to figure out what happened. I’d done some running the last few weeks – just a few minutes paced between the walking. Maybe 3-10 minutes at the most out of a 45 minute walk. And once or twice my back was a little sore the next morning, so i went back to walking for a few days.
Then one of the team reminded me I’d been jumping on a trampoline on friday night, and i remembered jumping on it with one foot instead of two, bouncing in and then out, and feeling my back sort of go twang a little. It seemed okay after that, and I didn’t think much of it. Carried around my one year old niece on my hip a good bit at the weekend, carried a heavy bag on my shoulder on Sunday.
Sunday afternoon i get out of my car and BAM. Can barely walk. Can’t sit or stand, and lying down is tough no matter which way I tried it. Lots of ibuprofen and hot baths, and I’ve bought a heating pad which let me just say needs to be a staple in every person’s home. (Or every person who lives in a country that has cold weather. Not sure my family in arizona is too keen on a heating pad since the whole state is like one big heating pad.)
It’s not a good thing. It’s frustrating and painful (and I’m really bad at waiting) and I wish it would just go away.
But I got thinking about the week, and about former times when i had some kind of pain or illness, and I realised there was a lot to be grateful for. Good that came – or was brought to the forefront – because of this hard thing.
…all the years of effort to build a team in the business, people who in the aggregate are better than I could ever be on my own. (Or even on their own are better than me in many areas.) Which has resulted in me knowing if I hadn’t been able to show up for a meeting, they could handle it and do it really well. I wouldn’t need to cancel it and things would go just as well without me. That’s a huge thing, and it wasn’t the case even a few years ago. I used to have to cancel meetings and then I’d have tons of meetings to come back to once I’d healed.
…actually WANTING to work, not feeling obligated to or having it weigh on me. On Tuesday i was still feeling pretty weak, but we had a new team member starting. I could have skipped the call, or sent her a video, or rearranged it. (She even very graciously noticed i was struggling a bit and asked if it would be better to rearrange.) But I said well I’m kind of bored of lying in bed, so let’s give it a go, and if it’s really bad we’ll stop. Mostly though I was really excited to have her join us and wanted to give her everything that would help her get going in her role as swiftly as possible. The same with our team meeting that day, and the first session of our Mastery coaching group. I truly wanted to be there, and was glad i managed it.
…buying a heating pad. I’m telling you. Even if you have no back pain, just buy one for those cold winter’s nights. It’s like all the blessing of a hot bath without any of the hassle.
…a new office chair. I phoned my mum (who has years of experience with back pain) and we commiserated and she shared ideas to help and sympathised. And then I said I was thinking of buying a really, really good office chair and I’d found one and was deciding whether to get it. An hour later she sent me money towards buying it, and the chair was ordered.
…understanding the value of a standing desk. I’ve been thinking about one for a long time, but this week because I really couldn’t sit very long, I made a makeshift standing desk by moving my computer up on a big stack of books. I’ve discovered to my surprise that I really like it, and that’s another purchase I’ll likely make soon. And I know there are a lot of health benefits to a standing desk, not to mention more energy for videos and calls than when you’re just sitting.
…receiving kindness and care from so many people. One of my biggest personal challenges is asking for help. I find it really hard to do and usually end up just powering through myself. And when I’m physically struggling, i usually have things set up so I can manage – I work from home, my food is delivered, most things are online. But a few people asked if there was anything they could do, or if I wanted a call or a visit or a FaceTime, and i realised I always have the option to say yes. To accept help even if in some ways i don’t “need” it…because there is an element I do need. I need to be someone who doesn’t have it all sorted. I need to receive. I need to be reminded how much I’m cared for.
I still would really have liked to skip all the back pain and just have the week without it. But then I’d be without the reminders of how far I’ve come in the business, without the heating pad and new chair and standing desk, without the extra opportunities for people who love me to show it in a practical and caring way.
We need help, and hard things remind us of that. Maybe that’s the ultimate good thing that comes from what’s hard. Needing and receiving help. Community. Team. Support. Grace.