I have a reoccurring nightmare. I’m running a marathon. (ha! Imagine mE running a marathon! And for the record – if you ever do indeed see me running you better join me because I’m pretty sure it must be something awful chasing me!).
So – the horrible part isn’t the running (can you believe that?!) the really terrible part is that somewhere around the “Mile Three” marker I spot a group of cheerleaders. They are yelling and waving signs – and I think this is a good thing. Then I get close enough to actually see and hear what they are saying… and rather than words of encouragement it’s stuff like “This should be easy – I don’t know why you’re breathing hard” and “You’ve got SO much further to go! What’s wrong with you?” and “Look how beautifully I just ran in my homemade organic sandals” and “See my adoring husband waiting at the finish line with roses and chocolate?” and “Oh my angelic children ran so much faster than you ever could!” and my favorite (not), “You must be doing something wrong for this simple race to be so tough!”
In general – we do not like pain. And usually that is a very good thing. It keeps us safe from say… walking out in front of a train just for the experience of it. We think, “No. That will hurt.” So we don’t do it.
Sometimes pain is just a state of overcoming something. (I’m very tempted to quote the 1990’s slogan, “pain is just weakness leaving your body” but I’m much to advanced to rely on old school tactics so I would never ever even type that… 😉 But of course – it’s true. Sometimes pain is good for us.
And maybe, sometimes, pain is a test. I’m not real sure about this one – but I’ll go along with that it could be true.
And at times pain can be a sign of doing something wrong. Like… holding a 400 degree pot with your bare hands – so there is a lesson there.
Life is just hard! And despite what you might feel like after hours of looking at your friends Instagram feed or Facebook posts – sometimes it just sucks.
Oh it’s filled with awesomeness! No doubt! Bubbles of joy and seasons of focus and passion! Relationships are the foundation for the most satisfying beauty we can ever have – but relationships are work. Raising kids is equal parts torture and unimaginable joy. Work can be fulfilling and shockingly mundane.
And I don’t think we are always prepared. Sometimes people don’t warn us of just how hard life can be. So often we think everyone else has it together so “there’s something wrong with me that my life is so messy and hard so I’ll pretend it’s perfectly adorable and that my kids are all angels and my husband is adoring and then I’ll feel better.”
Only we don’t feel better. We feel alone. And horrible. And fake. And isolated. And unable to be authentic or find true hope or healing.
And we can end up creating this system of competition without meaning to.
When we are young and in love we look at the “other” couple arguing and think, “they must not be as in love as we are.”
When we haven’t experienced motherhood we look at the haggard face of the woman in front of us in the checkout line at target who is most likely wearing a pajama top with a kid screaming in the cart, a toddler on her hip and her 5 year old just slipped a snickers bar into her pocket – and we think, “she must be doing something wrong…” or “My kids will never…”
But suddenly it’s us whose life feels like it’s spinning out of control and filled with drama that will not stop. And it hurts.
Please, please do not believe that life is only hard because you are doing it wrong. Life is hard – because it’s hard! And you get up every day and you face what you think you can’t face, and you love when you feel empty, and you give when you’re dry, and you even find the strength to simply try! You may sit and cry, and whine, and complain and you probably do have a battered broken heart, but you somehow take all those little broken pieces and you choose to keep loving and going and doing… You are my hero. You are doing the bravest thing of all!
Keep running. You are brilliantly created and beautiful and stronger than you know. You are so very far from alone… we are all running this race… and even when it’s hard you are doing awesome! Carry on!