September 15, 2022

A week or so ago I shared my current mantra: “everything is hard.” I know it maybe isn’t the best mantra. On the other hand, there is power in truth (imagine that!) So, perhaps it’s not the most sunshiney statement, but we all know that the perpetual sunshine we often see on social media is not the truth. So, in my last blog post I simply wanted to stay with what is real for many of us.

Everything is hard.

But, because I know that isn’t the best place to stay, and because my internal pep talks were not cutting it, I knew I needed some new tools. So this week, I am gonna share with you what I am trying these days to help me reframe my thoughts in order to move forward.

First, naming is powerful. This applies to the power in calling someone by their name, of course. That’s actually biblical (and although it is not the subject of this blog, it’s probably a future blog). But, for the sake of this blog, there is power in naming a truth. Simply saying “everything is hard” somehow makes it easier, even if I just say it out loud to my reflection. Acknowledging the reality of a situation is not always enough, but it is helpful. It is a start.

That’s what the previous blog post was all about. Just naming the “hardness,” and then being still with it. I had several moments where I visualized it in my hands. And I didn’t picture wadding it up and throwing it out. I didn’t see myself blowing it away with my breath. I didn’t try to talk myself around it, or out of it. Nope. This time I just sat with it. Oddly, it felt rather powerful to hold that “hardness” and stare it down. It felt a bit like an “I see you” moment, casting some of the shadows away.

Secondly, do not neglect the things you love, nor the things that give you life. For me, writing is my sacred space, my church. I escape into my writing. I work things out on the page. Sometimes I write for this blog, sometimes I write for my couples, and sometimes I write for me. However, I stopped all of it and I had a lot of excuses: It’s too hot. My young adult children are home. I don’t feel like it. It’s too hard.

It wasn’t that my brain wasn’t full of ideas or the need to process those ideas. Rather, I was in a rut, a funk. And for a moment, I think that was probably ok. But for months? It became a problem for me.

My counselor (if you follow my blog, which I hope you do, you know we have a counselor. Pretty sure we pay his mortgage) said to me: “write!” It wasn’t issued as an invitation. It was a command, really, a prescription. And it reminded me of an old mantra of mine from my graduate school days. I often had a hard time starting my academic papers. So, to combat that blank screen, I’d tell myself, “Throw a bunch of sh*+ at the wall. Something will stick.” It didn’t need to be topical, pretty, coherent, or even understandable. It was kinetic, though. Start moving. Start writing. Just start. Ask any writer. This method works. Proof? You are reading this blog.

Finally, find that friend who will just hold your space. Do you understand what I am saying here? Find the friend who, even if they are carrying their own load, will simply listen to you. This is the friend who will meet you where you are. They won’t need to respond by telling you their story, or unburden themselves on you. They won’t one-up you on sad stories. They also won’t tell you “buck up” or say “it’ll be ok,” which is all well-meaning but not what most of us need right now. This is the friend who can adeptly read the situation and understand you simply need a listener.

I am not suggesting this can’t be your spouse. But they’re often sitting next to you on the struggle bus. You need someone outside your marriage. This is why I am so big on the idea that marriage lives within community.

I have two friends who are my go-to people when I get to this place in my life. They are excellent listeners. They will let me unload without judgment. They never offer advice unless they first find out if I want advice. I know both of them are of the same mindset right now: everything is hard. But these are the two I know will go to dinner with me, let me order a drink and dessert and not even bat an eye. They will let me text ridiculous, emotional, non-logical word vomit, and say, “I hear ya, sister! That sucks.” Simple empathy.

Had I seen them much this summer? No. We were all quite busy with various things (see previous list of excuses). But when the rut got real, my counselor reminded me it was time to reach out to these friends.

Now, it’s not that suddenly life is better. Nope. Here it is Tuesday morning before 10:00 am and I’m already dealing with three hard things, including a fractured arm. But, I don’t know . . . saying “it is hard,” writing through the hard, and sharing the load with some really good friends makes it somehow more bearable. Give it a try. See what you think.

Good luck out there, my friends. Everything is hard.

But we – and I stress the “we” – can do hard things, and make it through hard moments, with a little help from our friends.

Peace and love.