to my struggling friend

I have a few things to say to you, but it won’t be enough.

You will get through this. You will. But it’s going to take work. And then it might happen again. And it might be the same – or it might be completely different.

No one has experienced exactly what you are experiencing or have experienced. But there are plenty of people who have walked similar roads, traveled to the hard places and come back again. You are not alone.

The world is broken. It’s broken! It’s broken because of sin, because in the perfect Garden, when a man and a woman had a perfect relationship with each other, a perfect relationship with God, and perfect relationships with their work and their bodies and all the animals and everything else, sin entered in. And things began to break down. Even if you’re not sure you believe this – look around you.

The world is broken. Undeniably broken. 

And because the world is so broken, it’s okay to feel the brokenness. It’s okay to feel the disappointment when things don’t turn out the way you wanted, when you lost DSC_0985something you worked so hard for, when someone you love is hurt or sick or has left this world. And it’s okay for you to feel these things strongly. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling the brokenness of the world.

But maybe the world’s brokenness is getting in your way. Maybe you are so hung up on it that you can’t see the beauty. The beauty is there, too. That sunset. That glistening icicle. That child’s laugh. That piece of music, smell of a flower, amazing chocolate cake.

But I’m not just saying look on the bright side, already! Chin up!

Lord knows that I know it’s not that simple. I’m just saying that the beauty is still there, too, amid the brokenness. In fact, I believe we have to have both: the broken and the beautiful.

Maybe you are seeing the beautiful. But maybe it’s just all too much. I know how that feels, I do. The beauty is too much, all the ways you’ve been blessed (that everyone keeps reminding you about) are too much, the pain is too much, the darkness is too much.

Your insecurity is too much. Your failures are too much.

This is when you’ve got to fight.

You can fight with counseling. You can fight with Scripture. You can fight with medication. You can fight with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You can fight at the gym or the piano, in the art studio or in kickboxing class. But you’ve got to fight. There is no right or wrong or only. Try them all! Find something that works for you. But don’t let this – your darkness, your anxiety, your paralysis, your anger – get in the way of you living your life, of you loving your life.

And one last thing – speaking of loving. What are you loving right now? Are you loving the right things in the right proportions?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, for myself. And I’m sure I’ll write more to you about it in the future, but until then: think about the things that you are loving. When you are in the pit, what is it that drives you to bottomless despair? That brings on the crippling anxiety? What makes you fly into a rage or soar to the skies? Could it be something that you are loving too much?

I’m not saying that the hard thing you are going through right now is your fault. Definitely not. I’m not saying that you should buck up or stop caring about your career or your kids or your husband or your body.

For me, there’s a lack of balance when I’m in the dark places. Something else takes over my brain, captures my thinking. Things get way (way) out of proportion in their importance. Sometimes, I stop loving the good things because they no longer seem good. Sometimes, I love the good things too much and am crushed by them.

I get tunnel vision and can’t see out.

On the worst days, I don’t feel strong enough to fight or find my way out of the tunnel.

But you are strong enough. (And so am I.)

You are strong enough because you aren’t fighting alone. Yes, ultimately the battle is yours to fight. But you are fighting with all your prayer books and gym classes and counseling sessions, all your family and all your friends. You are fighting with all the people who have gone before you on this path and all the people still on the path.

You’ve got to fight the good fight. Find the beauty in the brokenness. Try everything there is to try. Think about your loves.

It would be nice if the moment that we decided to fight the good fight, the sun would come out. It would be nice if simply the decision itself would make everything seem more possible. If suddenly we could feel God, if suddenly we could be joyously optimistic.

But sometimes getting out of the bad places isn’t as glorious as that. Sometimes, it’s just about making a plain-Jane decision. It’s crossing the line from the dark to the light.

Friend, decide to cross the line.

And when I chose to live

There was no joy, it’s just a line I crossed

It wasn’t worth the pain my death would cost

So I was not lost or found

[After All, by Dar Williams]

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2 Comments

Filed under body image, career, children, contentment, depression, family, friends, God, god & faith, identity, trust

2 responses to “to my struggling friend

  1. Very powerful, I will read this message many times!

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