I never thought we would be here. This trial, this valley, this darkness… Whatever you want to call it.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of what I want my future to look like, I certainly don’t picture pain, frustration, or grief. I picture laughter and peace. I picture endless energy and an abundance of patience. I picture everything just working like it “should” and everyone loving life. And maybe some of these things are good aspirations. It is admirable to strive for something better. Yet, sooner or later, I have to accept that life is really a whole lot more complicated than that.
Life is messy.
It doesn’t always have clear-cut lines and perfect visibility. Sometimes life hurts. Sometimes it’s confusing. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Sometimes things just plain suck.
I’m not trying to be a downer, but there is this side of life that we just can’t ignore. We can’t pretend that everything is perfect and okay. Because many times it really is not. And it’s time we start allowing ourselves to acknowledge that.
One quality I really admire in a person is the incredible ability to feel deeply, both sadness and joy. Beauty and pain. Anger and peace. These are all a part of who we are as human beings. Each aspect is woven intricately together, working in unity to create the masterpiece that is you.
So how can we expect anything other than a tangled web of ups and downs, good and bad? A rainbow requires rain. A diamond requires crushing forces. Gold has to be melted in order to be formed into something spectacular. We would not have the great potential that we do without some friction.
To pretend the unpleasant doesn’t exist, is to deny a part of who we are.
When my kids get hurt, if I were to act as if nothing happened, they would be confused, the hurt would be prolonged, and the bottling up would cause even bigger problems. But when I acknowledge their pain and empathize, they actually recover very quickly (sometimes even before I finish saying ouch!). If there is really that much power in attending to their physical injuries, how much more healing does it bring when I attend to their emotional pains?
You see, we have to be allowed to feel the negative. You are allowed to feel it. You don’t have to sit in it forever and let it take over, but do recognize it. Accept it. It is a part of you. It may feel uncomfortable or scary, it certainly does for me. I still don’t know what to do with all my feelings. But just paying attention to them has made a huge difference.
It is pretty powerful to name what you’re experiencing. A “feelings wheel” has been helpful for me, because it makes it easier to put a word to what I’m perceiving. Then when I speak that or write it down, I feel better. I feel empowered. And I can move through whatever I’m feeling much more smoothly than when I try to pretend my feelings don’t exist.
I hope that, through this journey, I will be able to picture my future more accurately. I don’t want to see something unrealistic, or set up an unattainable goal for myself. I want to see the mess, and the fun that comes with it. I want to see the tears, and the joy in the midst of it. I want to see the pain, and the love that surrounds it.
We can never really know what the future holds for us. But I think we’ve lived long enough to know that it certainly isn’t perfect. It is filled with more challenges than we ever thought we could survive. It is filled with more joy than we imagined possible.
Life is complicated.
It is chaotic.
It is messy.
Life is beautiful.