I recently read that we don’t attempt to heal from the trauma to be able to handle the trauma—we heal from the trauma to be able to handle the joy. Some years ago, I wrote about how it stung my heart to watch a stranger laughing and playing with his toddler while his wife sat close by smiling, a growing family just enjoying a lovely, normal day together—how unfair it seemed that someone got to live that fairy tale life (where did they find the fairy wand?) while I was alone and handled life with the white-gloved, tippy-toed version of extra care—
raising my kids alone,
making ends barely meet, and
clinging so hard to what felt like hope–unreal.
Hope feels that way sometimes doesn’t it: unreal, unbelievable—
like it cannot,
will not, or
does not actually exist.
This is where my cynical inner voice would rise up to say that it felt like there was no point
in moving forward (just stay in limbo, stuck, stay where you are),
in wishing for more or better (this is as good as it gets for you, this is all you’ve ever have, your grass is green enough),
in laughing and playing with your little ones (the weight and stress on your shoulders prove you don’t get to enjoy these days).
The lies the pain screams at you are
hard to navigate,
demanding of your energy and strength,
difficult to process,
and somewhere along the way, you also lose people you care about—
for one reason, or
sometimes, for no reason at all.
And you begin to believe
there will always be too much pain,
you stop daring to wish or dream, and
you settle for trudging through each day just to get to the next.
The lies whisper that there is no reason to hope for
healing hearts and
stronger boundaries and
stable voices and
more joyful laughs.
But there is—there is always reason and room for
building fences, and
chasing the sunrise, and
stopping for coffee and antiques, and
tucking away moments to savor at a later date.
Dare to dream. Do it and don’t ever stop.
There is no fairy wand to erase the pain and the trauma we’ve experienced. There is not enough bubble wrap to keep us safe from the inevitable bad days that will happen. I don’t know much about this world, and I know even less about the faith that brought me
to this moment
of typing these words
to you . . .
But I do know this—
this world has enough heartache in it, and
we really should swap our green grass for wildflowers anyway, and
you’re only stuck if you give up, and
what you have will always be enough, and
the weight on your shoulders was meant to be shared, and
if I can turn any ounce of that heartache into pure JOY, I’m sure going to try.
I don’t have words to explain the joy and I cannot explain to you how I got here;
it doesn’t make sense,
it doesn’t add up,
it’s a wonder (a total God thing).
But I can tell you how undeserving I feel to experience this joy. And looking back on those hard years, this joy was always there . . .
we always had access to it,
we could always feel it deep in our bones, but
we just didn’t know how to reach out and embrace it.
The dreams I dreamed for our family were never lost in all the heartache and hard years. I did all I could to
keep those dreams in view,
seek out the magic around us, and
make sure my boys left room for hope to exist.
I often find it hard to share
the joy, and
after all this time of trying to process the hard and painful out loud. I never want someone to look at me and wonder where I found the magic fairy wand—
because it doesn’t exist,
I’ve searched a million times over—
but I do hope that when you look at me you see someone who weathered the storm with a muddy Alabama red-clay stained heart, while
making ends meet,
learning what it means to rely on each other,
chasing nothing but dreams,
clinging so hard to what we now know is hope-real, and
learning to handle the joy.