I sat down to write this post at least 100 times, but while my heart was sure of what I wanted to say, my mind couldn’t find the right words. Well, today, a powerful woman helped me find my voice. I went to see Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery speak at a little church, not far from my home, and while I knew what she was going to talk about, I had no idea that she would have the power to take the words from my heart and weave them together in my mind, so I could get them out in a coherent, meaningful way.
I will begin by telling you simply that this past year has sucked, massively! But as those words come out, I have to take them back, because amid all of the sucky loss and pain that have filled my world these past few months, God magically intertwined beauty and strength. So yes, I have experienced loss, anguish, and tragedy, but I have also been blessed with friendship, kindness, and a love that reaches deep into my heart.
Friendship is something that has come easily to me as an adult. I like to think that I collect friends along the way, and I cherish the people who have stayed with me, from kindergarten to college up through motherhood, because they have made my life richer. I live in a close-knit neighborhood, and over the past eight years, I have become friends with many of my neighbors. There are six of us that have developed a close bond that, through the events of the past year, has grown into a powerful core of support that I am eternally grateful for. In the past twelve months, one of us lost a husband to a battle with cancer, I lost my dad, another lost her grandfather, and another one battled a personal struggle with a great deal of hurt. It just seemed like we couldn’t get a break from the suffering. The common thread that bound us all this year was pain. Yet, somehow we managed, unconsciously, to use that pain to build something so beautiful, and I thank God for it every day.
What touched my heart today was Glennon’s perspective on pain. I sat in the front row, trying to be present and in the moment, but the nerdy teacher in me just had to take notes, because God forbid I forgot any of her brilliance! It started when she talked about crisis being like a sifter. At first, I thought she was crazy when she explained that crisis allows all of the “sand” to sift through, leaving all of the treasures behind and exposed. That was an epiphany for me. This year of suck has been a sifter for the six of us. It has forced us to discard all of the meaningless, and what was left was beauty, compassion, love, and true friendship. Those are the real treasures. Those are the blessings that can get so easily lost in the pain.
She also talked about how we desire to fix our friends’ pain because we love them. That is when I realized that we can’t take the pain away, and shield those we care about from the agony of loss or anguish of personal battles, but we can certainly walk beside them and cheer them on, whispering to stay strong. Our presence can simply be a reminder that the journey is not one of solitude, that there is a hand to provide stability or simply a soul to bear witness to the metamorphosis that a painful journey can bring.
So as I reflect on this really long year, with really hard battles, I am going to allow myself and my friends to feel pain, but I am also going to leave room for gratitude, for it is through these struggles, I have found five of the most beautiful treasures waiting at the bottom to love me, care for me, and walk with me, as I travel through my beautiful life.