The last couple of weeks got me thinking about the big trials I’ve experienced in my personal life. During those times, I was told by well meaning people to get over it, pull myself up by my boot straps, stay positive, and look at all I have to be grateful for. I do believe in the power of gratitude, but you know what I mean. I just don’t get over things quickly. When tragedy strikes, I feel it. It hurts, it’s painful, and I struggle.
At the age of 23, I lost my mom. I was sad and confused but mostly angry. How could God let this happen? How could people just go on with their normal lives when my mom had just passed away? I remember crying to my husband (boyfriend at the time) and telling him how mad I was at God and how angry I was in general. He said something very profound, and it has changed my perspective when faced with big trials. He said,”You have two choices. You can go the way of bitterness, anger and resentment, or you can go the way of hope.” In that moment, I chose hope, and I’ve chosen hope time and time again since.
BUT let me be clear, the way of hope hasn’t been pretty. I didn’t just choose hope and suddenly feel happiness and joy wash over me. It’s been a struggle. I’ve grappled with depression, anger, and pain that I was scared would never leave. It reminds me of this quote from Fearless by Max Lucado:
“Real courage embraces the twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate triumph.” -Max Lucado
To embrace the pain I was feeling while simultaneously embracing the promise of ultimate hope (triumph) was beyond difficult. Honestly, some days I couldn’t even fathom it, and I feared that there would never be an ultimate triumph. This is precisely why Lucado calls it courageous, which reminds me of another quote…
“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” – Dorothy Bernard
During some of those hard times my fear and anxiety could overwhelm me. In those moments, choosing hope looked like being courageous enough to say a prayer. Yes, even that was hard. And it didn’t just make the pain magically disappear. Faith was once described to me as what helps you put one foot in front of the other in order to find hope. Faith is what kept me praying, and it’s what kept me going. It helped me look towards hope.
To those of you who can’t just hop up and get over it, I’m with you. I just wanted you to know that you are not alone. It’s courageous to feel pain. It’s courageous to choose hope. It’s also extremely hard, but the alternative is worse (anger, resentment, hustling, numbing, running). It’s not pretty and it doesn’t happen quickly for me, but I have found choosing hope to be worth it.
You know what else is courageous? Actually hitting “publish” on this post, because I have given a lot of thought to just bagging this post all together. After all, I admit that I’ve been bitter, angry, depressed, anxious and mad at God. Ha! Want to be friends?
A couple of books that have helped me are Fearless by Max Lucado, Daring Greatly, The Gifts of Imperfection and Rising Strong by Brene Brown, Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton and The Bible (Just a couple -ha!)
I’ve also found counscelors to be extremely helpful. My counselor in Houston is Stephanie Frey.