"I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything's easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom." - Shauna Niequist
Well, now. If I were the shout "amen" type, I'd be shouting right now- probably loudly and repeatedly. I've been in a season where nothing has been easy lately. In fact, I have written and then promptly deleted four blog posts on here because it was too hard to convey what was going on in my heart and mind. I mean come on, I don't even really know what's going on in there half the time! So, I'm giving this a fifth go and we shall see if it sticks.
Back to the wise Ms. Shauna... I read those words of hers on a day when I felt like loss and emptiness and confusion were just giving way to more loss and emptiness and confusion. Because let's face it- we have those days too. Days when even though we want to believe that the hard stuff brings something good in the end, it sure doesn't seem like it is in the moment. But her words struck a chord in me.
The past few years have been downright HARD - in every area, really - especially recently. You can start to feel like you're alone in the struggle - that everyone else's life is easy peasy (whatever the heck peasy means). Then there are those few trusted friends whose eyes you can look into and just know that it hasn't been easy peasy for them either. I think if we just took the time to look a little deeper into each other's eyes more often, we'd find that our common ground is our struggle.
I was at the grocery store a few weeks ago checking out and a worn looking elderly gentleman got in line behind me in his little electric cart. I glanced over at him and smiled to which he replied with "Well, darlin, do you ever have a smile on you! You could light up a room!" Little did he know that moments before I flashed him that smile I was fighting back tears as I slid my check card through the machine. I thanked him and looked at him - I mean, REALLY looked at him. And you could see signs of the struggle written in his eyes and all over his face. What I wanted to really say was "Me too", not "thank you". As I pushed my groceries away with my kids in tow, I heard him say something to the cashier about how he was going to split his small purchase between two credit cards and how he hoped they'd work. Struggle. From the surface we can all seem so different, but it's the common occurrence of struggle at its core that connects us.
I'm grateful for those people who are willing to share their hard and gritty with the world. Because inevitably, they get to the other side of the hard and they tell you how something really good was built through the really hard. And you sigh with relief that it really does happen - that you do become stronger through your weakness, that you learn things you otherwise would never have learned that are going to serve you well in the future, and that you ultimately heal and move forward. So thank you, gritty sharers. The world needs more of you.
I'm through the raw, oozing, not sure what to do with myself part of the "hard" that has come my way lately. There were moments I wasn't sure I would ever pick myself up off the carpet, but here I am, sitting in a chair. :) It's easy to get lost in the emptiness and pain and wonder when the next "easy" stage is going to come. Or if it ever will. This morning I read something that resonated with me. It said "The next step will come, but you don't need to rush. Enjoy your life as it is - not as what it will be." And it reminded me that I'm building something good right now. Rather, God is building something good. It is hard, but it IS good. The struggle makes it good because it's fought for tooth and nail. Even though there's so much I don't understand, I catch glimpses of the goodness that's coming out of it, even now. And one day, maybe not as soon as I'd like, but one day - I will be the one to look someone else in the eyes and tell them that I got to the other side and that all the hard actually built something pretty darn beautiful. I will say "me too" and see them sigh with relief that they aren't alone in their struggle. Because none of us are, or at least we don't have to be.
Suffering is part of all our narratives, whether we will admit it or not. We are all born into the struggle, but we are meant to struggle through together. So, let down. Let someone in. Let someone take a long deep look in your eyes at what's going on with you. Don't walk the struggle out all alone. We were made to see something really good get built out of all the hard together.
And to that end, I'm going to hit "publish" and commit to not pressing delete this time. :)