“I made it to Starbucks. #smallvictory”
That was the text I sent her. It took a lot to walk the half of block, in the blessed sunshine, amid the unusual warmth of a western New York city in February. Sliding into sweats, exchanging glasses for contacts, putting on my favorite little pair of faux diamond post back earrings, took more effort than it should have. But I wasn’t going to get lost in how it should have went. It went. And here I was sitting at the dark stained reclaimed wooden community table sipping a Blood Orange Pellegrino and munching on kettle cooked BBQ potato chips (Don’t judge me. It wasn’t a soy green teal latte kind of moment), was a small victory.
The day was one that would be a series of small victories, following after the days before it. I had barely managed to survive the week at work. And by barely I mean Friday started with me crying on my way to work and ending the day with a workshop I led with plenty of crying students. I was tossed one curve ball after another and they missed my bat, yet managed to hit either my head or my heart every single time. By Friday’s end, grateful was an understatement. By Saturday morning, I didn’t yet have the language let alone a word for the haze I found myself in.
I sent myself to the gym and barely managed 40 minute on the stationary bike. It was hard for some reason. I pedaled until I couldn’t and gave myself permission to stop. I went to the grocery store and decided that my funk would be lifted by frying some fish, fixing some grits, baking some cornbread. Between that and a house filled with music, it was working. It was fleeting. By afternoon I was under covers and grateful to be there, yet equally appreciative to have errands to run with my friend and housemate later that evening. I was better ‘til morning.
Sunday morning came and I wouldn’t let myself think about how I felt. I wouldn’t let myself give into my feelings and miss church. I was up, dressed, protein shake consumed, and at church just in time for the small talk to close and worship to begin. I sent Jesus a thank you for getting me there and slid into the back pew, only managing a quick smile to the woman a little further down the row, and Lindsay, the pastor’s wife. The sermon progressed, driving home the point of being honest with God. He used David and the Psalms as an example. He reminded us of how in all of his range of emotions David remained brutally honest with God. He didn’t hide his sorrow, his jubilance, his anger. As the service closed we were encouraged to go and do likewise.
So, I did. I sobbed. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed until my insides hurt. All of my 32 year oldness was more like 3 or 2 year oldness, at least that what it seemed like. You know the toddler who is so distressed and cries and cries until their face is red, hot, and they are coughing. That was me. Back hunched, eyes closed, heaving hot and hard, crying. I am sad I mumbled. I am so so sad. Lord I am sad. This too I would count as a #smallvictory.
I started to strive to give you a pretty ending to this post, but I don’t got one and honestly, I don’t think that’s necessary right now. Maybe because I’m not at the end. I’m smack in the messy middle. Middle of the day. Middle of Starbucks. Middle of decisions. Maybe because small victories happen in the middle. In the messy parts of life before we get to the end. They happen when we manage to get out the house and walk half a block to Starbucks in the sunshine and amid the unusual warmth. They happen when give it a go and let God know that the prayer won’t be a series of your awsomes but sobs and I’m sads, trusting that in all his awesomeness He can decipher it all- all the pain, the angst, the disappointment, the loneliness, the frustration, the deep deep hurt that aches, aches until the next day which is why sliding into sweats takes longer than it should.
My hope for you in reading this (I know right, me, hoping, and hoping not just for myself, but for you. I think I’m gonna count that as another #smallvictory) is that you too just take in the small victories, and may they build momentum as you muster your grit, manage to keep sight of grace, and muddle through the messy middle, inward, upward, forward.