Blessed Struggle


A good friend (in a funny hat) sent this image to me the other day.   Just what I needed to give me a little push into being thankful this week.   And as always, when my thankfulness is hard earned, I decided it was time to write on here again.  Writing has come from a different place for me lately and I haven’t felt the need to write about my feelings in order to wrap my mind around them.  This is a good thing.  This means I’ve been doing well…that I’ve been laughing and smiling and haven’t needed to think too much about the shadows on the horizon.

There is a lot of truth in accepting your struggle as a necessary part of your story…a key ingredient to personal growth and accountability.  For Christmas my daughter gave me Shannon Niequist’s novel “Bittersweet.”  I’ve carried this book in my purse for weeks and, until yesterday, I have never made it past the first chapter.  Maybe I just wasn’t ready to hear the message I knew I’d receive between those pages or maybe I was just too caught up in unnecessary distractions to stop and learn something new.  Yesterday I picked up that book that I’ve held so many times over the past month and the words were exactly what I needed to hear…exactly what I needed to be reminded of.  As with my last Niequist novel, I’ve already started underlining and starring passages that strike me deeply, humble me, make me laugh or eloquently describe emotions I wasn’t even aware I was feeling.  Today the words that struck a chord within me were truly bittersweet, as the title of the book promises:  “I know now that I can make it through more than I thought, with less than I thought.  I know better than to believe that changes are over, and I know better than to believe the next ones will be easier […] I’ve learned the hard way that change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we’ve become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways.”

These words are so true.  Let’s face it.  Change sucks.  Straight up and without a doubt, if you find yourself growing comfortable in a situation, that situation is bound to change.  Life isn’t about being comfortable.  It’s about accepting and adapting to constant change – allowing ourselves to move through changes fluidly so that we don’t bang and bruise ourselves and those we love along the way.  But change brings struggle and sometimes I find myself a little pouty about change.  I don’t like to admit that…but I do.  Sometimes, if the change is big enough, I’ll even stomp my feet and have a tantrum…maybe even shed a tear of self pity.  And at the worst of times, when I have to find the personal strength to make a change for myself that I really don’t want to make, I have to work extra hard to remind myself of the value in change, the infinite potential in every new direction and the blessings in life that are available to those who refuse to worry and just accept life as it unfolds.  It’s during these times that I am forced to remember the things I’ve learned through changes in the past…the valuable life lessons that  have helped me navigate the hard times in the past…my own personal truths that have been proven true so many times.

Oopsie…you screwed up again.  Get over it.  When your life changes because you screw up, it can be hard to swallow the realization that your own actions have brought about the pain and confusion you feel as a result.  One of the toughest things to do in life is learning how to forgive yourself…how to see each day as a “do over” and a brand new chance to get it right.  The only perfect human being is the perfectly dead human being.  No matter how good our intentions are, if we’re breathing, we’re probably screwing up.  So you messed up and things suck now because of it?  Well good for you…you’re alive.  

Some things and some people just aren’t worth it….no matter how much you want them to be.  Once you’ve truly mastered the art of living one day at a time, you will start to be more careful about how you spend your time and with whom you spend it…because every moment is precious and should only be spent doing things you enjoy with people who are worth it.  I feel particularly blessed in this arena…my family and my friends-that-are-family are simply awesome.  For realsies…they are the bomb and I’m blessed beyond measure in this arena.  The people you spend your time with should be genuine and loyal in accepting you unconditionally for the person you are and should give you their best in return.  Are you surrounded by people who use you?  Treat you badly?  Make you an option while expecting to be your priority?  To borrow the words of one of my dearest friends, if you aren’t being appreciated for who you are, “run far and run fast.”

There are no big things…only little things begging to be appreciated. I think we all get caught up in the big picture and the big events of our life, past or present, and forget to appreciate the little things that really matter.  I know I do.  For just a little bit this week I caught myself feeling sorry for myself…rather pathetic really, but I’ll keep myself honest by admitting it here.   It seemed like, despite my best intentions, everything was falling apart and I wanted to just throw up my hands, declare life to just be too complicated for me to participate, get myself a dozen cats and take up knitting.  Well…maybe it wasn’t all THAT bad, but I did hit a bad spot this week and was seriously considering the big picture too bleak to even consider worth celebrating.  And then I gave myself a reality check and forced myself to count my blessings again and I quickly discovered that I was just being a whiny little bitch…and I needed to quit.  In the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of little things to be thankful for.  I’ve watched my teenage son compete in his favorite sport and my check to pay for the deposit on my daughter’s wedding venue cleared the bank without bouncing (Jazz hands!).  I’ve played with the happiest one-year-old in the world and enjoyed my first  game of Cards Against Humanity with some of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing (spoken in a hilarious German accent).  I’ve shared my most intimate thoughts and fears with one of the dearest friends I’ve ever had and had her respond with love, understanding and absolutely zero judgement (I love you B).  My dog didn’t eat anyone….this week.  I had the pleasure of meeting a grandma who reminded me so much of my own that for a couple of hours I just let myself believe it…and it was wonderful.  I didn’t fall down the bleachers at any of this week’s wrestling meets.  My besties  had good weeks …surviving foot surgery, moving into a great new house and getting a great new high-paying job (Don’t forget our plan, Sissy…I’m counting on you. 😉 ) I found a quarter at the bottom of my purse when I really needed one.  I had a good hair day.   So many things to be grateful for…just gotta remember to be thankful for them.

It’s okay to be vulnerable and to open yourself up to be hurt and judged by others.  It’s the only way to really live. This week I caught myself stressing over hurtful events of the past and making bad decisions for myself out of fear – fear of feeling vulnerable to someone else and fear of being judged unfairly by others.  This is such an easy trap to fall into, especially in such a small town.  Once again I just had to remind myself that building walls around myself to protect myself from being hurt or pretending to be someone other than myself in order to please others just aren’t acceptable ways to live.  The only way to live your life well is to live it fully – genuinely and out loud.  Sometimes people will lie to you, hurt you, judge you and betray you…so what?  What can you do about it except to just say “I’m too fabulous to care about someone who would treat me that way,” strike a pose and sashay away wearing your “I Am Fabulous” sash.  That’s me…queen of the crazy parade.  It’s about damn time someone gave me a crown.

God is good.  Life is awesome.  The “struggles” are just the little tests that make the whole thing worth it.  Smile, laugh and get busy being happy.  Any day that I spend sleeping because life gets too hard is a wasted day…and I’m too selfish and too frugal to waste things without feeling bad about it.  Especially days…because we only get so many of them and each one is a blessing.  In fact, even the struggles are blessings…because they show me how strong I can be and give me a chance to show off and be fabulous despite my circumstances.  I believe that God won’t give me more than I can handle…and it’s become perfectly clear to me that He thinks I’m pretty bad ass.

Just sayin’….I offer my crown to He who wears it best.