A long-time friend recently told me that she has actual "big girl panties" that she wears on certain days. I think this is brilliant and am on a mission to designate a pair of mine for this important task.
I mean, really, don't we all have days when we need to put on our big girl (or big boy) pants? Really channel our inner grown-up--let go of petty, self-serving reasons why we haven't done something? Take the high road, no matter how tempting it is to be snarky or sarcastic? Put down the (chocolate, cookie, muffin, beer, chips) and put on the walking shoes?
Sometimes, when people I know and care about are in pain, and it comes in droves, I can feel like I'm stuck in mud on a river bank, watching them float by, helpless to make it better. I mean, I can't bring back their loved one, change their cancer diagnosis, fix their broken marriage. I can't make their child stop using drugs, not have autism, or not have committed suicide.
In my faith tradition, it's Lent. Lent often gets a kind of weird rap out there. But this year, I've been thinking that it's a time to remember when Jesus the man decided he needed to put on his big boy tunic, take some time, and figure out how to get ready for the challenges that lay ahead. So, he went out into the desert and really took stock. And it made him stronger. (I have to admit, I kind of like the image of Jesus in big boy pants. I'm not even sure what they'd look like, but I like the concept.) Lent makes me realize that even Jesus struggled. He couldn't fix everything either--nor did he choose to. But he did love people--especially those who were in any kind of pain.
So, what can I do? I can listen. I can pick up the phone and say "I'm sorry this is happening. I'm here. What can I do?" I can let go of any kind of judgment about how long it takes anyone to grieve or how they do it or what triggers an episode. I can go to memorial services, and doctor's appointments and pray with and for people. I can also wrap up in a fuzzy blanket with a cup of tea and nurture myself. I can be mindful of the fragility of life and love and celebrate it every chance I get.
Because that's what big girls do.