Just get over it. Why can’t you move on?
Expectations echo in my head.
Getting over it is what we’re supposed it do. Something happens, and then we get over it, right?
My self-talk isn’t working.
The ache in my heart argues back, won’t let me ignore, won’t let me move on.
How does one get over something like that, after all? How does one “move on” when everything has changed?
I don’t know the answer to that question.
What I do know is: That it is the wrong question to ask.
Several months ago, I sat down to lunch with a friend, and I told her I felt like I was going through a mid-life crisis. I’m not that old, but in the last three years, our family has experienced significant trauma and loss on multiple fronts. Now that we are out of crisis mode, I had begun to feel like I don’t know who I am anymore or how to get back to myself. I found myself questioning dreams I’d hoped and prayed into for years.
Do I really want to do that? What do I even want to do? These big questions scared me.
“Is something wrong with me?” I asked my friend.
She smiled and told me she’d felt that way before, like she’d lost herself after a major life change. “It’s because you’re not the same person you were before that happened,” she said. “What happened changed you.”
She was right. I’d felt lost because I’d been trying to find my way back instead of looking forward to the new. The often-spouted idea that we can just “get over it” implies that we can return to how we were before, that life can go on as if this hard thing never happened. The truth is, trauma and loss change us forever. There is no going back to the person I was before I knew what it is to experience this kind of loss and pain.
But this isn’t a sob story for me. We all have our stories of loss and pain. This is an offering of hope, because just “getting over it” isn’t the answer.
Recently, I listened to a TED talk by Nora McInerny called, “We Don’t ‘Move On’ from Grief. We Move Forward with It.” In it, she tells the story of losing a baby, losing her father, and losing her husband to cancer—all within the space of two months. She explains that she found healing through being present in the pain and embracing the ways these loved ones—and the experience of losing them—had changed her and made her who she is now.
What she said resonated deeply with me. And it freed me. The truth was, I didn’t need to “get over it.” When Jesus came to see the sisters Mary and Martha after their brother had died, He didn’t tell them to “move on.” He wept with them. And then He offered them hope for the future. As we know, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Mary and Martha got him back, but I know the grief of losing him, even just for three days, changed them. They didn’t go back to the way things were, even though Lazarus didn’t stay in the tomb. They moved forward together into something new.
Imagine sitting down for a meal, saying goodnight for the evening, walking through all the daily routines, realizing—You were dead, and now you’re alive. There’s no going back from an experience like that.
In fact, going back was never the goal. God equipped us, as humans, to walk through grief and loss. And if we invite Jesus along on our journey, He will weep with us, He will offer us hope and healing, and He will enable us to change for the better.
We all know people who have walked through pain and allowed it to make them bitter or angry. Grief apart from Jesus will do that to us. But when we let Him lead us into the new, trusting Him to steward our hearts, even the hardest moments can bear good fruit in our lives. As Paul writes,
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).
Here’s the thing. When we refuse to rush or discount our process, but embrace the path through pain, we learn how to comfort others. It’s hard to have compassion for someone else’s pain and process if we have not walked a similar road.
I’m thankful for my friend who told me I’m not crazy and that I don’t need to just “move on,” but instead, move forward.
I’m learning to be present in my healing journey. I no longer expect to “get over it.” What I do expect is that this healing I’m walking into will not just be for me. The ways I have grown and will grow, the increased depth and nuance with which I see life and others, will make me into a better friend—a friend more like Jesus.
The same will be true for you. You don’t need to “get over it.” The goal isn’t to “move on” and get back to how things were. Instead, with Jesus, you can move forward through the pain into hope and purpose and a greater capacity to love.