It’s no secret that growth and healing and life can not happen fully without others. Sometimes it’s a hug or a word of encouragement. Sometimes it’s the presence of person, the wisdom of their words, the art of their creativity, or the power of their story that encourage us to take a little step further, breath a little more courage into our lungs, speak a little more hope into our hearts and those around us. Sometimes we grieve in solidarity from afar and sometimes someone speaks or sings or draws how our hearts feel and can’t express. Here’s a few of the pieces of writing and music and art and creation that have resonated in my life recently, in some way or another, that I’m not quite alone, not quite whole, and not quite forgotten, very hurting, and still possibly very very extraordinarily normal.
Science Shows that Kindness Heals:“It’s actually a privilege to care about each other and to proactively extend that caring as often as possible. Every time we do, something in us grows and comes alive. Kindness heals our world, one act of giving at a time.” Enough said.
Letters require your undivided attention. They spark creativity. They make you feel good. Since I was little, I have been fascinated with writing… at first writing poems and little notes to myself, and as I grew and became a follower of Jesus, writing letters became a way I could connect, when I was sick or sad, excited and anticapatory. Writing has become a ministry in and of itself for me, a way to encourage and share and let people know they are loved enough for my time and energy and thoughts. I never write more than when I am sick, when I have a lot I am learning and a more intense need to connect in intimate ways. I have years of precious letters from my grandmother when we wrote back in forth. I have no picture of her, but I have her words and her handwriting and even her smell on the paper that bring me to tears during my once a year ritual of reading them while eating a cupcake for her birthday. Words matter. Letter are a gift.
This one made me weep from a deep place. The struggle and darkness and confusion in depression and anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health realms has strong seasons of unexpected intensity. Rarely have I heard of others who’s commitment to each other stay intact during these very challenging times. I greatly esteem the honesty and struggle in this article. I appreciate how the husband adjusted his life to accommodate his wife. But mostly, I am encouraged by how much bravery it takes for this wife to keep going, to choose to life in the struggle. She’s strong. She’s loved. She’s extraordinarily normal. Because it is a long hard road, and no one should face it familyless. It takes a lot of brave people, sacrificing a lot of “rights”, to restore a broken world.
Having recently needed to leave a church, this article was both a factor in that decision and has continually been a confirmation on the days I question that decision. Because it’s healthy to look back and wonder and struggle as you grieve a loss, to question and seek to know from the Lord and learn in that struggle. And not everyone struggles in the same place or in the same way, but for me and for where I was being lead, leaving the church I helped to start, that I was on staff at, was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made and there’s a lot of grief in the loss and much reflecting.
What if the church was the best place to not be fine? I love this post. One: because the writer needed help. She needed emotional and physical help. She needed prescriptions and support for years. The truth is, it doesn’t take a vacation or a month or two to come back from hard places. It takes a long long time. Two: because some people do get tired of you. And some people just don’t have the capacity to endure with you and that is a hard truth to swallow.
At first, they call you brave and vulnerable and honest for telling the truth that it’s not all perfect. That you believe even when you struggle to believe. That God is still good. At first they agree that life is hard, that mental illness is no joke for those who endure it, who spend their days dedicated to surviving it. But when you’re still trying to keep afloat and the years march on, it gets old.
Three: fine is my most favorite word. I didn’t have a wide vocabulary growing up. I had so very few words for the grievous things I experienced and to this day, I still don’t. How do you continue to tell people you aren’t okay, that you aren’t well physically and emotionally, day after day? When people tire of hearing the same things? I learned to just be fine. It’s a comfortable word to me. A safe word when I don’t know if the other person is able or willing to support me if I am honest. I can’t be honest if there isn’t support. My life just hurts too much. So I’d rather say fine, and if they ask more, I am usually safe to share more. And if they don’t, I am no worse off. But I want to create space for others where it’s okay to not be fine for a good long while, because it’s rare to find it, but there’s healing in not being fine.
What if we learned that church just might be the best place to be not fine for a bit? Or for a good long while if that’s what it takes.
The past 6 months or so, I’ve revisited some of my MBA text books on personality. I’ve sought to understand why I do some of what I do, what’s a part of who I am, what is not. Sometimes you just need a reminder that it’s okay to be you, it’s okay to be different. I am not loud. I have a hard time in large groups. I am a realist, both a dreamer and critic. I am an avid communicator. I need to communicate to feel loved. I see numerous, near endless possibilities in circumstances and people. I like leading, but I mostly won’t if I feel someone else is more capable. I map out ideas well. I’m a bubbling pot of ideas and strategies and thoughts. And I need to communicate them. I mostly feel confident that my ideas and thoughts will work. They have been thought out quite a bit. To have an INTJ personality is rare, the most rare among women and nearly unheard of in the church. It’s hard for an INTJ to have faith and it’s a struggle to learn faith concepts under traditional church methods. I’m rare and I’m useful. Those are two things I’ve held onto tightly over the tumultuous times this past year.
This article spoke my heart language. The New Year didn’t feel happy. In fact, they rarely have. It’s always been a strange concept to me to wish for a Happy New Year. But I do love to celebrate. I love to celebrate that some things are over, at least for a time. And 2014, she can go kick herself out of my history. It was a pain filled year.
Pain and grief have the power to discourage us, but they also contain the learning that brings a powerful hope.
Yea, that’s what it’s about. I don’t believe some things that I once believed in 2014 any longer, in this New Year. I’ve learned a very many pain filled truths, had hopes crushed, lost quite a bit, suffered and struggled, but I’ve learned nonetheless. I feel a little less naive and a little less opportunistic. Nothing was wasted though. And there is hope in knowing that, in seeing it played out in your life.
Because I’ve been searching and I’ve been waiting and I’ve felt a bit out of my mind at times. Sometimes, Avril just meets me where I am.
You see, I KNOW this story is about a guy wanting to marry a girl, but sometimes the lyrics are just good:
Why you gotto be so rude? Don’t you know I’m human too?
Sometimes I forget people are like me, struggling, trying to hold hope, trying to make it. Human, worthy, just like me.
Mostly I love the beat of this, and I appreciate the lyrics. BUT I really just like this song because I have a roommate who loves to dance to it, in the car or the living room or at froyo. And I love that she feels free enough to do so.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved Rosie O’Donnell. I used to think she’d be a great mom. I loved her koosh balls. I loved the movie Hariett the Spy. A friend and I would often pretend we were spies after watching that movie. I loved the Rosie Show. So when I saw a news article online about a little girl who’s dad threw her off a bridge, I made a conscious choice not to read it. It hurt too much. I have enough hurt in my life. But when I saw Rosie post this article about it, I challenged myself to not step away from the hard and painful things. Because people are worth the pain. And one little life still matters. Even if it’s terribly painful to process. My capacity for grief and sorrow is higher than most, and the cost emotionally and physically can be high, oh but it’s an eternal cost, a worthy cost. So I sob, once again, while posting this.
Suicide does confront us with our limits. It’s hard, but necessary to learn and understand. I appreciated the directness of this article. It goes a long way to be aware, to know how to de-escalate situations. I haven’t seen it done well many times, but it’s articles like these that help us to understand ourselves and each other better. Because everyone wants to belong. And suffering, with no end in sight, is painful and lonely and hard. Suicide is never a instantaneous occurrence.
Sometimes those who kill themselves have long expressed distress and suffering, and their demeanor during the days before death apparently did not differ greatly from other days. At other times, people did not share their innermost thoughts, no matter what others may have asked.
If only we knew how to deescalate situations better. If only we knew how to comfort in the uncomfortable situations. If only we knew how much little words like “I know this is hard. I’m with you” means. This article isn’t just for people who talk about taking their life, it’s for all intense pain. Because to be honest, we all long for life to end or stop, at least momentarily at some points. Depression is hard. Death is hard. Loss is hard. Rape is hard. Murder and job loss and illness are hard. Being a parent is hard. Change is hard. Life is really hard sometimes and we all could use a few more ears to listen, people to watch out for us, kind words and gestures of embrace and belonging. Listen to the voice that tells you Always love, don’t wait until the finish line.
It’s in my nature to connect with people. In fact, I’m known for being a “connector” of people. I know many people. I care about many people. I have a great capacity in that way and it’s a gift. And it was hard to get out of facebook. But I was hurting. And I felt disconnected from what I needed. I needed real, ongoing relationships. I wanted people to call or make a plan to get together. I wanted to share joys and prayer and struggle with people intimately, in person, not as announcements on social media. I needed connection.
And I struggled a lot with these beautiful, near perfect family portraits. There’s a whole life we don’t see or know and shouldn’t. We shouldn’t have all access to everyone. But we should to a few, to the ones we are connected to personally not through social media. There is no better feeling to me than getting a picture in the mail of my niece and watching how shes grown through pictures. Or sending her and the 3 other littles in my life post cards from places I’ve been and then hearing them talk about how excited they are to get mail. One of the littles has a small pile of them in her “special box”. Precious. This is real life stuff and it matters.
You can know someone but never need to really know them on facebook and that’s not okay for me. It’s not healthy for me. It’s not what I need. I miss Facebook. But I’m more filled without it.
This one made me weep. It’s hard and messy and beautiful. It’s beautiful to not just know it happened, but that it should, that it needs to, that there are many many teens and young adults that need this kind of relationship. I was one. This was not my story, but I hope there’s more stories like this in the future. I hope I can be a restorer in this way.
I have a friend who moved closer recently who loves her people and her family well. She’s a gentle and fierce woman. She loves God and prays like no one I know. She’s known for her “prayer lists”. She’s a dedicated soul, sister, and piece of my family. This past year she said to me something like, “Syndal, there’s just so many hurting young adults. They need homes. They need a mom. Maybe I can be an adult foster mom.” That’s a beautiful heart. Because there’s a lot to learn when your biological mom isn’t around and adulthood can feel overwhelming and isolating in a culture built on family.
I hope we will all continue to struggle and try to live in a world where people, all people, reardless of age, will never feel familyless and will never wonder if they are familyless and when they do, we can join in the struggle and speak hope and kindness into those tender places. Because we can’t go on in life alone, and there’s something special about belonging, a god given desire and need for it. I want to be someone who creates space for others to belong, as family.
I remember the first time I said “I love you” and it was so unexpected and natural, it shocked and scared me. I didn’t know such a thing could flow from me. I struggle to say it, but I want to. I want to so often. It’s powerful. It heals.
We are not perfect, and if we have ever felt frustrated at one another, nothing is more powerful than “I’m sorry, I love you.”
“I want a place to belong, a people to be a part of, but I never really thought they existed, except in storybooks. As we were sitting at the table, I suddenly felt deep sadness and regret for all I never had and realized that this is what I wanted.” .. it was the heart of our home, the love, the comfort and warmth, the acceptance, the spiritual and intellectual connection that invited her into our haven where she might find refuge from life.
Home and belonging and having a people that are family is a pretty big deal to me these days. Maybe because I lost a lot this year. Maybe because it’s made me keenly aware that sometimes, despite your best effort and intentions, you’re misunderstood and there’s loss and change that can occur. And when you don’t have much, some loss is a huge loss. And we all need a place that’s warm and accepting and offers spiritual and intellectual connection. We may need food that feels comforting and a way of life that slows us down and forces us out of thought patterns and into other focuses. We all need a refuge from the pain of life. We all need a home. No one should exist as a nomad in the lives of other people. We need to be firmly rooted and grounded not just in Jesus, but in the hearts and lives of others, in the family.
On some of my hardest days, someone close to me would pick me up. We’d go to the grocery store or the mall. She’d make dinner. I’d play with her kids. We’d read books. I never read kids books as a child. We’d play some games after dinner. Eat some ice cream when the kids went to bed. We’d talk about books or ministry or cooking. We walked and went to parks and planned day trips. Mostly though, I think I appreciated her just picking me and transporting me from my house to her house. A way out of the pain and into a refuge. It wasn’t always easy. We didn’t always get even get along. But there was a new rhythm, a new way of life, a safe place to belong for me. Homes are important. Homes are hospitals for the weary.