I recently had a pretty nasty upper respiratory infection (thankfully, not Covid) that knocked me out for almost a week. I took a full day off work. Then I worked an hour. Then I worked a half day. I could almost see myself slowly healing each day. I had a fever all day. I had a fever just in the morning. I didn’t have a fever. I monitored as my symptoms slowly started to recede as the week progressed.
I also recently moved into a new apartment. My first night here I had a dresser, a mattress on the ground, and clean bedding. I borrowed a pillow from my roommate and was as happy as I could be. A couple days later, I got a bed frame and my own pillows. A couple days after that a nightstand. Every morning for about the first 2 weeks in the apartment, I watched as it “got better.” As things slowly came together.
I’ve been thinking a lot about these two very distinct experiences of seeing tangible improvement. One day, a shelf was hung up. That’s new. That’s nice. That's progress. One day, I didn’t wake up sweating and shivering. My throat didn’t feel like someone had taken claws to it. That’s different. That’s better. That’s progress.
And so what happens when it's intangible, then? It’s easy to see how working from the floor to working at a desk is a step in the right direction. But how do you measure something non-linear. How do you measure healing without a thermometer?
The best answer I have is that you don’t. At the end of 2019, I was trying to get many pieces of my life together after what had been a very deeply challenging and traumatic year. I had a list of things I wanted to do and work on and the underlying theme to it all was “heal.”
Of course, that’s not something you can put on a to-do list in between “laundry” and “write a blog post.” It’s not something you spend a few hours with on a Saturday morning and then call it a day. It’s a lifelong process… a lifelong promise.
And so I think about that now, as I sit in a more-or-less put together apartment and take in all that has changed in the 26 days since we arrived. There will be things in my life that I will watch improve, day by day. And there will be things that may not walk that same line. Things that get worse before they get better. Things that resemble dotted lines and loop-de-loops and look anything but straight and tidy.
But each of these examples have a few common threads. Much like moving to a new place, healing requires commitment to making something beautiful. To transform an empty apartment into a safe, comfortable, loving home. To take the mess and find the threads of goodness.
Much like getting over any sickness requires patience, grace, and a mindfulness of body. To know when to rest. To know when to seek help. To know that tomorrow is always a new day. And to wholeheartedly believe that tomorrow will bring another opportunity to get even just a tiny bit better.