Even when you see it coming, falling into a painful season of life is miserable. Muscles can’t grow unless they break. Flowers can’t grow without dirt. But despite how many black-and-white mugs we desperately grasp with sayings like this, filled with coffee in the morning and wine and whatever time it becomes acceptable, it doesn’t make it better. In my grief, the only way I could sleep at night was fewer words and more space. I had to force myself to think about nothing. “Focus on the sound of your breath,” a therapist once said; it works.
The quickest way past it is through it. Resistance is how we grow up. Ask any preteen. Behind the amazingly produced TikToks are the same hurts and fears we used to carefully stash behind white eyeliner and CDs we burned ourselves.
We cannot outrun the universal hardships of life: sickness, pain, loneliness, death. But we can create systems to outsmart them. The best present you can gift yourself isn’t a new shade of long-lasting polish or the most fantastic charcoal scrub…it’s the grace to do whatever you need to get to tomorrow with a few tiny granules of sanity.
Grace is a space we carve for ourselves. What fills it? Whatever you freaking want. Coffee, tears, colorful pens, Taylor Swift songs, online shopping carts filled an abandoned…whatever tiny thing that reminds you that you are still you. Who you are will change in this fire, your perspective will grow, but you will always be you.
If you’re in the middle of a mess, if you’re leaving one beyond, or feel one on the horizon, I am here to say this plainly: stop judging yourself. Stop holding yourself to a standard of perfection so unsustainable, it only adds to the crap piling on. Shame keeps you hidden, and the world needs you…wounds and all.
What a beautiful choice to make, to resist bitterness.
What a powerful declaration to claim joy amidst the pain.
What a grateful heart that learns to beat intentionally among the pain.
We feel joy deeper because of our sorrow. We seek light because we’ve been in the dark. We cling to the beautiful, simple moments because we’ve been in a place where we longed for normalcy. What a beautiful backdrop grief and pain make.
Beautiful is the woman who claims that rightful joy through her tears. Pain hurts, but see it through. Bitterness is a choice, and you do not deserve that harsh pill in your gut. Bitter is for whiskey and chocolate and coffee, not for your precious heart.