Sunday Reflections: It’s Okay to Sit a Moment in Your Pain
Vague spoilers for A Wrinkle in Time appear in this post. If you are totally unfamiliar with the story, read at your own risk of being spoiled.
At the beginning of A Wrinkle in Time, Meg Murray’s father has been missing for 4 years. It’s the 4 year anniversary in fact as she sits in the prinicipal’s office and he tells her that it’s time to move past her hurt and be the good girl Meg that they all miss, in part because that Meg was easier to deal with.
Around the 1 year anniversary of a very complicated pregnancy loss that almost took my life my pastor told me the same thing.
People like to put limit on other people’s pain.
You see it time and time again on social media. Smile, be happy, put it in perspective. Those constant memes with glorious sunsets that remind us all that these are First World Problems, that someone somewhere definitely has it worse, and if you just think positive thoughts and choose to smile then life is really awesome.
It’s a Lego Movie mentality.
Everything is Awesome.
Except, of course, when it’s not.
The truth is, it’s okay to sit for a moment in your pain. It’s actually important that we do so. We have to take the time to really and truly grapple with our life experiences and the emotions that they cause in us. The way that those moments change the landscape of who we are.
Because that’s what they do, moments of pain can change who we are. When a piece of us is stolen, when we learn a horrific truth about the reality of life, when we are betrayed or let down, or when we betray or let down others. It changes you. And yes, that changing doesn’t have to be some permanent hardship, but it’s okay if you sit in the darkness of your soul for a while and really wrestle with what it means to be hurting and human.
“Everybody loves you when you’re easy,” sings Sarah McClachlan in the song Black and White. That lyric has always stuck with me because I recognize the truth of it. Sitting with someone as they sit in their pain is hard.
For a while, Meg Murray sits in her pain. She steeps herself in it. Her father is missing. She doesn’t know what happened to him or what it means. She is entitled to her pain. She is entitled to her anger. No matter how uncomfortable it makes us.
But she doesn’t stay there, because one of the things A Wrinkle in Time is ultimately about is hope. And love. And healing. Meg finds hope and in finding that hope, she learns more about herself and her place in the world. Meg Murray takes a grand adventure and moves from anger to hope, but she does so in part because she learns that the source of her pain can be found, her questions answered, her world righted again. Not every child gets that chance. For every found father there are fathers who have no desire to be found. For every sister screaming into the darkness I love you and I always will, there are sisters who won’t answer the phone and haven’t talked to their siblings in years. Meg Murray is one of the lucky ones.
Lots of our kids are not, in fact, Meg Murray. Breakfast will not magically appear tomorrow morning. A loving Dad will not be rescued from the darkness. Bullies won’t reconsider the harm they are causing to those that they bully.
Yesterday I sat in the movies with my two daughters and I watched a childhood favorite come to life, and I was profoundly moved to share this inspiring moment with my girls. I looked over at them and I wept as they saw a family come back together in love and heard time and time again the affirmations made to our dear Meg.
But I also thought about every one of my kids who won’t get that, the happy ending and the words of affirmation. And my heart also ached. But also I thought about this: it’s okay that Meg needed to sit for a while in her pain and anger. Sometimes that’s where we need to be. And we need to allow our kids and teens to be honest with themselves and with their pain while also giving them hope that they can move out of the darkness. And that, ultimately, is the hope that A Wrinkle in Time provides. We can fight the darkness, but it is, indeed, a fight.
Filed under: Sunday Reflections
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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