Courage Found In The Darkness

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When I was little, I read a book about this girl’s life back in the days of horse-drawn wagons and boiled water baths. At one point in the book, her dad died. Where there was once laughs and daddy-daughter dances through the kitchen, there was now only pain and shattered dreams. The morning after her entire world came crashing down, she woke up to the most beautiful day. The sun came peeking over the land, scattering gold and orange splendor all through the sky. And she couldn’t figure out how in the world the birds could be chirping and the world carrying on as usual. How could anything be beautiful when her world had come to such a sudden stop and shattered to pieces?

I failed to fully grasp then what I understand now.  In the dark moments of my deepest heartbreaks, I, too, have stared at a breathtaking sunset, unable to fathom how such a thing could exist in the middle of such pain.  How did the sun rise when I barely have it in me to leave my bed?

At first, it killed me. I remember the first time I got back on Facebook after my brother died. Heartbreak I had not experienced before set in as I browsed. It hurt seeing so many people carry on with their lives as tho nothing had happened. I saw posts of my brother’s death mingled in with happy, smiling faces and funny memes. Raw and exposed I sat, while conflicting emotions overwhelmed me. Of course I wanted others to be happy. I wasn’t mad at anyone for being cheerful or untroubled, but to be faced with such happiness so soon after being smacked in the face with my own grief, it was hard. Like a bright light being turned on after a while spent in a dark room, stinging the eyes as they attempt to readjust, their happiness burned a bit too bright in my current darkness.

But, over time, I actually found hope and healing by seeing genuine happiness in others. Hope that said there was still life after being shattered to pieces. Hope that said I wasn’t alone. I saw people who had walked through devastation and their own dark times of loss; heroes who didn’t just survive, but somehow managed to thrive. People who praised God with both hands, despite the sorrow they lived through.

I was blessed with multiple coworkers/ people close to me who braved their own heart holes, reopening their own wounds, to let me know I was not alone and would make it through – that my grief would not be the end of me.  They somehow summoned the courage to heal and love life again, and that gave me courage to face a life without my brother in it. Courage to live a life with loss and still find joy, even if it would forever mingle with pain. J.R.R Tolkien said it best:

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

I don’t think you ever really “get over” losing someone you love, but I think you learn to carry them as love in your heart instead of a load of grief on your shoulders. After all, “The ones that love us never really leave us.” – J.K. Rowling

So, as it turns out, our worlds will shatter over and over again, and yet, the world will still continue to spin. Flowers will still bloom. And on our worst days, birds will still sing. And maybe, that’s just the kind of consistency we need to believe in better days ahead.

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Honest Reflections on Worth.

5914.jpgI’ve had a lot of come to Jesus moments recently. Let’s be honest, I’m always having those moments. Sometimes with God whispering to me and more often with Him knocking me upside the head to get my attention. Recently, He’s been working on me remembering to find my worth in Him. So often, I forget. I forget I’m the child of the Creator of the Universe. I forget that He created me with a direct and divine purpose that only I can do. I forget that I’m made and sustained by the one that parted the seas and raised dead bodies to life. I forget that I’m loved by my big, great Heavenly Father and nothing at all will ever separate me from that love.

Yes, I forget. And instead of stepping out on those truth, sometimes I start trying to find my worth in other things. How well of a job I’m doing, how much stuff I can get done, how fit I can get, how good my decisions are, and especially who loves me and whether or not I feel like I belong anywhere. And on my worst days, comparison to other people and feeling less worthwhile if someone stops loving me or talking to me or even stops commenting on my social media or doesn’t acknowledge me in their life on social media. It’s ridiculous at times I know, and I am definitely not proud of those moments, but they happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I find great satisfaction in it. I strive to make good decisions and hold myself to a very high standard. I love with my whole heart and want to be loved in return. I never want to waste a minute and want to get as much done as I possibly can. I love working out and getting stronger and testing my fitness. And I’ll be honest, it’s really nice sometimes when someone posts about you on Facebook. It’s a nice public affirmation of your place in their life.

BUT, while those things are nice and really good things, when they start to become how I gage my worth, it’s time to refocus my sights back on what really determines my worth. My worth has nothing to do with what I do, who loves me, or how they show it. My worth is in who I am, which is God’s child. That’s it. The Executive Director of a company is no more valuable than the janitor. The girl struggling to bench the bar is JUST as worthwhile as the girl doing endless pull-ups with never ending abs. The child in the foster system going from home to home, not feeling like he belongs anywhere is JUST as important as the child with two loving parents. It doesn’t mean that the janitor can’t work his way up if he wants to, that the girl benching the bar can’t work hard to become strong and fit, or the the child in foster care shouldn’t want to find a place where he is loved or belongs. BUT whether or not they achieve these things, they are still JUST as important and worthwhile as ever before or as anyone else.

I think we all struggle with some aspect of where we find our worth. I know I probably struggle hardest in the area of feeling loved or like I belong. But I’m working on it. I’m reminding myself in those moments that I belong to God and that’s really all that matters at the end of the day.