There have been moments recently where the beauty of life brings me to my knees. Life teaches me — over and over again — that the human heart has a capacity for healing far greater than I could ever imagine.
I’ve seen people rise up from the ashes of extraordinarily tragic circumstances, grow wings, and fly once again. I’ve seen people look in the actual face of horror and loss, trudge through it, and somehow come out on the other side to live in light and grace once again.
We’ve all heard the trite phrase, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” But what I know now is that it’s not simply a pleasant motto to help push us through difficult times. It’s an undeniable truth. An impenetrable coat of armor that can shield us during even life’s most trying obstacles.
Adversity is painful. The trials of life can cut us so deeply that there will be days, weeks, months, and even years when we will be certain that we can not go on. You will ask, “How can a body withstand this?” But you will go on.
One day, you will rise. You will laugh again. You will love again. You will swim in the sea and the summer sun will warm your skin. You will sit beneath the stark night sky and watch the stars sparkle into infinity. You will feel wind on your face and the simple, undeniable magic of raindrops falling on pavement will make your heart beat a little faster.
After pain, when the healing begins, life is changed. Every color is a bit brighter; every taste a bit sweeter; every sound a bit more lovely; and every touch a bit softer. Don’t ever doubt that you will get through whatever it is that is testing you. You will.
“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”
Sometimes I feel that I am dealing with more than a human soul should have to bear. I grasp in the darkness for a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes I fumble madly, overcome by fear. I think, how can a body withstand this?
But there is light in my days. There is light that I haven’t yet come to terms with. A fleeting glimmer that I wonder, at moments — Is it real? Sometimes, in the warmth of it, I stop and actually ask out loud, “Am I dreaming?” The reality of something beautiful contrasted against the pain is almost too much. Like sitting in a dark room for years and then being suddenly cast out into the harsh light of noonday, a cloudless sky, the brightest fire of the sun.
I turn toward faith. I shut my ego down and ask the divine to fill my spirit. I become an empty vessel, begging to be filled. I pray: Lord take away my fear and replace it with courage. Lord, take away my anger and replace it with kindness. Lord, take away my frustration and replace it with patience. Lord, take away my hurt and replace it with peace.
These are my prayers — whispered over and over to God. I know that these pains that I feel are messengers. I listen to them. I beg that the Universe turns them to sweetness. I can’t do it on my own. That’s the one thing that I am certain of. My God hasn’t failed me yet and I know that He won’t fail me now.
When I feel like I can’t go on any further, I turn to my breathing. Just take one breath and then another. If I can do that, I can keep going. And I do. And I will.
For the past few years, the trend seems to be to declare that one “doesn’t do resolutions.” There’s been a whole lot of jumping on the bandwagon that says, new year resolutions are silly and we should strive to be our best selves, always. (Hell, I wrote a whole post on this topic several years back.) However, I like to swim against the tide. So I’ve decided to ring in twenty-sixteen with a resolution.
Also: You get what you focus on, so focus on what you want.
Take care of my skin. // I’m not sure whether good skin has to do with taking care of it (keeping it clean, moisturizer, out of the sun) or whether it’s purely genetic. I’ve heard good arguments on both sides. However, as long as you’re keeping your skincare routine simple & natural, I feel like it can’t do any damage. So if it does good, then all the better.
I’m grateful to say that I was blessed with great skin. I’ve never struggled with breakouts or any other skin concerns. Still, at thirty-one, even great skin begins to age.
Although my skincare routine has changed over the years, since having babies, it’s been nearly nonexistent. I wash my face in the shower every other day and I load up my face with coconut oil when I get out.
My goal is to begin using a moisturizing and lifting night cream. I’ll report back with a review in a few weeks.
Do something new each month. // My life has become almost entirely monotonous. I crave adventure, new experiences, and magic. It’s what makes my heart sing. And yet, I can’t even tell you when is the last time I did something wonderful & new.
I’ve used having babies and having a lack of adventure-seeking companions as excuses for far too long. I’ve started creating a little list of adventures that I’m planning for the coming year. It needs its own post. I’ll share it here soon. Six of the list items will be things that I plan to do with the babies and six will be things that I plan to do alone. (…Wait. Doing stuff? Alone? Who am I??)
Others. // 1. Drink more water–I’m going to start a gallon per day challenge tomorrow. 2. Stop waiting for a sign–I’ve spent a lot of time this past year praying to God for a sign, for guidance. This year it’s time to shape my fate instead of being governed by it. (Side note: Fortune favors the bold. Bravery is “my word” for 2016, but more about that another time.) 3. Photography–I’ve got a bunch of photography-related goals for the year including a series of self-portraits and a special landscape shoot.
So how about you? Are you about making resolutions or do you try to set goals throughout the year without giving much heed to the turn of the calendar? In any case, I’d love to hear your big plans & goals for 2016.
A few months ago, I returned to therapy after nearly ten years away. I’m seeing the therapist who changed my life all of those years ago. I’d been trying to handle “it all” on my own for a very long time. Then one day I broke down and said, enough. A weight was lifted from me then.
That’s the beauty of surrender, isn’t it?
You say– I can’t do this on my own. I need help.
And that’s okay.
Therapy was hard in the beginning. I had to twist out pieces of my life and hold them up into the light. It’s a painful process. It’s been slow going, but it’s going.
I’ve been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast series, Magic Lessons, and in the season finale, she interviewed Brené Brown. In the interview, Brené talked about being a creative and sharing. She said that when she’s going through something painful, she doesn’t write about it. She doesn’t write about it until after she has healed. She said that sharing it before she is healed would be a disservice to herself and to her readers. The wounds are still too raw as we move through the processes of coping and eventually healing.
That’s where I’m at. I haven’t yet begun to heal. I’m still in survival mode.
I’m not sure if I agree with Brené, though. I think that there is an importance in sharing as we move through pain. There is beauty and value in rawness. But I do agree that we must be ready. It’s so important that we don’t throw ourselves into sharing too soon.
During therapy yesterday, we spent a lot of time talking about guilt, self-forgiveness, and self-grace. After a lot of digging, we came around to an enormous crux, an earth-shattering (for me) revelation about how I’ve been treating myself and how it’s been damaging me.
It was as though we had been digging and digging these months. Then suddenly—CLUNK—the metal of my shovel hammered hard into the roof of a buried chest. We pulled it out into the light.
As I was leaving her office, I said–I really need to focus now. I need to put everything else aside and focus on forgiving myself, on giving myself grace.
She told me to speak to myself the way that I would speak to my children–with unconditional love & forgiveness. It’s such a hard thing to do, but it’s time for me to do it.
An answered prayer.
At times, I’ve witnessed my prayers answered with such specificity that it’s startling. Back in August, I returned to the church where I attended Sunday school as a girl. Every time I go into that building, my heart swells. I always want to be there more often, do more, give more. I volunteered to redesign our church website and to manage our Facebook page. In doing these things, I thought how much I’d love to do more, perhaps even to get a job within our church. But it’s a small church and as far as I knew, there was no staff. I continued volunteering and cherished my time at services & fellowship.
Last week, after a particularly stressful day at home, I told M. that I’m going to get a part-time job. Some days, being a stay-at-home-mom sucks the life out of me. I haven’t spent a single day away from my children in the last three years. Such closeness brings with it incredible joy, but — let’s be real — a lot of suffering, too.
I’ve been feeling this itch to have some space of my own and a part-time job would be such a blessing. Time away from home, away from the babies, away from the never ending to-do list of domesticity. Even a “commute” seems like a novel thing to me. Time in the car alone? Without a toddler whining and an infant screaming? What a treat!
One night last week, I woke up to use the bathroom. I stumbled across the living room with Marina in one arm and my phone flashlight in the other. I looked down to check the time and saw that I had a message from our pastor. She said that our church secretary is moving away and that the position needed to be filled. As she was writing up the job description, a light bulb went on, and she thought of me. Within a couple of days, we had worked out the details and the rest is history.
Ask and it shall be given.
Seek and you shall find.
Knock and the door shall be opened.
// Matthew 7:7
Forgive me if this post is a bit scattered, friends. I’ve just been wanting to check in. For so long, my blog has been almost entirely about the babies & motherhood. I’m not sure where I’m headed in this space next, but I do know that I’m doing a lot of self/heart work during this season of my life. Sharing bits of the process through writing always feels right in my soul.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a sponsored post and then I’ll check in to share some of our holiday celebrations soon. I’m sending you lots of love & hopes that your holiday celebrations are full of every light, peace, and joy.
My heart is preparing itself for winter. I find myself wondering how I will survive. These seasons of my life are the hardest and the most full of wonder that I will ever know.
There is the solitude of marriage; the solitude of motherhood; the solitude of snow, just on the horizon.
How will I go on?
The days are long and hard. The darkness comes too early, again. I think, “This, too, shall pass.” Although the little voice that lives in my heart says, “No. Stay. Freeze here, time. Don’t let them grow. Don’t let them leave me.”
The season of my life has turned. I used to live with the fear of losing romantic love, afraid of loneliness in that way. Now I live in with fear of my children growing away from me. Still babies, but I’ve been taught for a lifetime how quickly it will pass. And even as the hands of the clock drag slowly through these saddest hours–I know now. My baby is a little boy already.
I live with it. The ache of knowing the very preciousness of these moments. It pulls at me. Weights me down, like grief.
Have faith, old heart. After night comes day. After winter comes spring.