Life is hard. And it is so, so good.
The hard part is that the hard parts don't ever feel good. And when we're in the thick of the hard parts, it's nearly impossible to see that any good will result from them. The hard parts are messy and miserable and "unfair" and devastating and heartbreaking and embarrassing and seemingly hopeless.
There are ugly cries and tantrums and clenched teeth, jaws, and fists.
We question ourselves, those we love, and we question God.
We feel guilty for our feelings because there is always someone else worse off than we are, and in the grand scheme of life, we really are blessed, aren't we? But that doesn't stop despair from digging its vicious claws deep down into the depths of our souls and attempting to rob us of our faith in God's promise that all things work together for our good.
There's nothing like some good ol' trials and tribulations to make us forget all the seemingly impossible situations we've survived in the past. We kick and scream and wish away every ounce of discomfort we feel. We don't like it and we want no parts of it. Which is completely human. I don't know anyone who jumps up, waving their hand in the air, yelling, "Oooh pick me, pick ME!" when the universe is handing out job loss and car accidents and home foreclosures and car repossessions and COVID and all of it's other creative methods of devastation. Nobody signs up for that stuff. #nothanks
Sometimes I wonder why many of us struggle with the concept of struggling. Where did we get the idea that we shouldn't have to go through or experience hard things? No one ever promised us a picture perfect, pain- free life. At least no one ever promised that to me. So it seems that some pain, some difficulties, some unfortunate circumstances cannot be avoided... I remember as a child growing up that Saturdays were chores and hair- washing days. I also remember doing my absolute best to tip toe around upstairs on Saturday mornings, my belly crying out for some Fruity Pebbles and milk, trying not to make a sound- thinking that if mama didn't know I was awake, she wouldn't call me downstairs to give me my list of tasks for the day or slap a glob of goopy, deep conditioner onto my head and cover it up with one of those plastic processing caps that made crackling noises every time I turned my neck. #yuck
Yeah, the hard things in life can't be tip-toed around. Believe me, I've tried it. It doesn't work. I've done my best to drink my water and mind my own business, but that hasn't shielded me from all hard things. Because, life happens. And it will continue to happen every single day if you are fortunate enough to wake up again and experience the world.
Over the past couple of years, I've learned quite a bit about suffering.
About the exhausting battle that is keeping yourself together when everything around you is falling apart.
About fighting for peace within when all hell is literally breaking loose around you and threatening to swallow you up.
You don't almost lose everything without learning something in the process, right? It just takes some of us longer than others. I learned some hard lessons, for sure. But the insight and growth from those lessons didn't take place until I came to a place of acceptance. I had to accept that
Suffering is supposed to hurt. #duh
I can't avoid all suffering.
Good people and bad people experience suffering.
My suffering isn't a punishment for something.
Suffering is not targeting me. It's not personal.
I cannot wish it away or change it. These unfortunate circumstances are happening whether I like it or not.
I can choose how I respond to suffering.
Even though I am suffering, I do not have to be miserable during the process.
I can choose to grow from this experience or I can pout and complain. #choosewisely
I may come out of this with some scars, but scars are proof that I survived whatever tried to take me out.
Scars are the physical evidence that something that was once broken is now healed.
My scars and my healing tell a story, my story, that may give a voice to someone else who is suffering in silence.
Sharing my suffering, my scars, and my healing with transparency and authenticity has the power to activate the healing process for someone else and encourage them throughout their journey.
Once I was able to accept these truths, my heart and mind were ready to process my current struggles as catalysts for growth rather than some ridiculously unfair and unwanted hand that had been dealt to me. Or forced upon me. I was able to shift my perspective and view my unique situation through a lens of endless possibilities rather than one of loss.
I wasn't broken, deficient, or lacking anything. My car accident, concussion, brain injury, physical pain, job loss, financial devastation, relationship shifts, inability to fully care for myself or my child, and the resulting daily challenges had stripped me of everything that made me comfortable, complacent, and naively content and provided me with the opportunity to have faith, trust God, summon every bit of strength within me, and gather up all the pieces of my life to create something entirely new.
All the "stuff" that had kept me too busy and too distracted before no longer existed, or really seemed to matter. My pride that had tricked me into thinking I was self- sufficient and my nasty little inner critic who had convinced me that I wasn't worthy of asking for or receiving help from others were drop-kicked out of their ever- present position at the forefront of my thoughts into oblivion. The perfectionist in me had to release control and abandon the unrealistic expectations I had of myself and those around me. My brain, that had formerly organized my sweet little life into perfectly organized, color- coded lists of tasks complete with matching pen sets and brightly shining vinyl stickers could barely keep track of what medications I had already taken each day and gave me the gift of being mindful in the present moment.
I had no space mentally or physically for anything except what was absolutely necessary. No excess and no fluff. No overextending or over-committing myself out of guilt or obligation. I learned how to be comfortable with saying no. I learned how to speak up and advocate for myself, to be direct and unapologetic about what I need. I came to understand and appreciate the seasons of life, the constant ebb and flow. How some things must end in order for others to begin. How we must be stretched in order to grow. How growth is often born out of discomfort. How growth requires
determination, resilience, and grit. How we must fight for it. Intentionally and relentlessly. One struggle, one battle at a time, until the war is won. Because without the war, I would never have become the warrior I am today.
No war. No warrior, sweet friends.
I love you.