“Sometimes you have to play hurt.”
It’s a phrase I heard often in childhood. The source was my dad, an avid football fan. I’d watch games with him and was fascinated by players on the field who were nursing injuries but continued doing their jobs—rocketing into the air despite tightly wrapped sprained ankles, catching footballs with a broken ring finger. These decisions weren’t necessarily wise and many players paid years down the road. They aren’t famous for living long lives. Many die years before their expected life spans because of the wear and tear on their bodies.
As a mother, I am intimately acquainted with the notion of playing hurt. Got a nasty cold? The kids still have to get to school. Have a relentless headache? The baby isn’t going to change her own diaper. Play hurt. My husband is wonderful about stepping in when I am under the weather. But he has a job and other responsibilities and cannot always come to my rescue at a moments notice.
Facing this third miscarriage, I find myself adopting my play-hurt attitude. I feel like I need to be bold—barreling through my emotions with my eyes focused forward, leaving an impressive wake. We were driving somewhere and my husband noted the very true fact that it is okay for me to show emotion and be sad about losing another baby. I answered him by saying “I’m a tough guy.”
Jaw set, eyes narrowed, adrenaline pumping, bring-it-on.
But I am tired. It takes too much energy to keep up the fist-shaking resolve of Scarlett O’Hara swearing, “as God is my witness…” You believe her. She will never go hungry again.
I was believing myself, too, when I told others I was fine and tough and resilient and have “done it before.” I may be all those things, sometimes. The biggest thing I am right now is foolish for thinking I will get through life unscathed, unbattered, or unbroken—though my own power. No matter how it looks from the outside, I am feeling each and every minute that creeps by. You’d think, after my previous losses, I’d understand this. The biggest mistake I have made is crediting God for my strength. I suddenly realized He doesn’t want this kind of credit right now.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Mat. 5:4
He wants to bless me, and He has abundantly in so many ways. But if I can’t let myself mourn because I’ve slapped up a steely front of invincibility, then I cannot be comforted by anyone—I am cutting myself off from the blessing of being held, loved, made to rest. I can’t go back and change the past. It is what it is. Something bad happened to us and it is okay to admit it hurts.
I am not a tough guy.
*Lay down your weary tune, lay down.
Lay down the song you strum,
and rest yourself beneath the strength of strings
no voice can hope to hum. ~Bob Dylan
*Posted after my second miscarriage, when I was smarter.