No one tells you that sometimes, it is The After that is so difficult to deal with. You work through, fight for, and grind out the hard stuff that life dishes out like a warrior in battle. The adrenaline is close and near and dear and sustains. It fuels the fire; diverts our attention and gives us something to feel. An alternative focus if you will. The struggle brings out your best and your worst and all that lies in-between, but at least there is effort, will and determination to be proud of and noted at the end of the day. There is something to do. A goal. A target. A place to put all that emotion. Perhaps it is just getting through the day or the hour or the moment. Accomplishment in the effort allows you to lay your weary head down and start again. Frederick Douglass wrote this about struggle: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Martin Luther King reminded us in words penned decades ago: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable….Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” Today, Oprah even tells us: “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”
In The After, though, there is no more struggle, no more war, no more battle. It is quiet here. Eerily silent and still. Adrenaline has left and with it a sense of powerlessness. Waves of emotions varied and intense have all subsided and left in their wake, the remains of the struggle.There is not peace here yet because there is a different kind of work to do in head and heart. It is finding and embracing acceptance of what is and what was and then connecting it to a new line of hope for the future; like a fisherman casting his line into the water not knowing for sure what will be found on the other end when the tugging begins. This work is gentle work. Clean up work. Tidying up, sweeping up, humming a soft tune while you whisk away the clutter kind of work. You feel a bit battle worn and timid. You feel a bit tired and treaded upon. A bit messy. A bit wobbly. You wonder if more is coming and what will you do if that happens. You reflect on what was learned and what you will do better the next time. You remember that He is working together all things for our good and for our benefit That he is building luscious, gigantic fruits of the Spirit that you would have just assumed stay sour and small. You meditate on Psalms learned as a child that reminds you and tells you to:
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.