Do you know anyone who is always legitimately cheerful in the face of adversity and/or pain? The type of person who has been known to utter something along the lines of:
How am I? Oh, I’m just great! So blessed! The other day my mother died and then I ran over my childhood pet by accident, breaking both of his legs and leaving him irreparably deformed, oh, and then I failed college. Like. The whole thing. Just failed it. But my life is great, and I am blessed, and I have no reason to be unhappy because God’s in control!
I’ve always desired to be classified as one of those people. As a Christ-follower, I feel like that’s supposed to be part of my DNA: unshakable optimism.
Unfortunately, whether it be due to irreversible exposure to the darkness and cynicism of the world or just a developmental defect, I am not one of those people. In fact, I’m usually quite the opposite.
I’ll never forget the day my husband said something to me that shattered my soul so finely that it’ll never be the same.
As soon as I opened the door after work, I threw down my purse and started up my daily ritual of pissing and moaning about my what happened at my job — I don’t even remember what I was so upset about, ironically, but this was evidently the umpteenth day in a row I was firing off complaints like missiles toward my undoubtedly exhausted husband, expecting him to take every shot lying down. After what seemed to me like minutes, to him like hours, of me complaining, he fired back.
“You’re a really negative person.”
He didn’t even address the things I was complaining about. He just got right to the point — the point being, maybe it wasn’t my job that was so awful. Maybe it was me.
I’m sure that’s something that Dan wishes I’d forget (it was, after all, a comment he made in the first, and arguably most arduous, year of our marriage) but I never will. Not because I think it was mean and awful and I want to yank it out and use it as arsenal anytime we get in an argument. But because it challenged me. It convicted me.
It changed me.
Since then, I’ve never complained about my day to Dan unless he asks, “So, what happened at work today? Anything bad?” Because, honestly, what’s the point? What good does complaining do? Sure, it’s nice to vent, but I’ve found that after doing so, I only feel worse, not better. I only feel as though I’ve taken my can of worms and not only opened it, but spilled it all over the floor of my home and tackled my husband to the ground and forced him to roll around in it with me.
This morning, I came across an article entitled, Why You Should Embrace Discomfort, and everything inside of me fought against clicking on it. I figured that reading that article would probably reinforce the accusation my husband made all those years ago. (It didn’t help that it was originally posted by my church’s Spiritual Transformation Pastor — that is, The Pastor Who Knows Everything About God and Life and Everything and Probably Intimidates You Because of It.) And I was right.
As I sit here, breathing in strange intervals while my son uses my lungs and ribs as his own personal punching bags and thinking about how I need to stop by my house later to visit the cats and pick up a few things before heading out to our friends’ to sleep, I am becoming increasingly aware of the amount of discomfort I’m currently experiencing, both physical and emotional. And I can honestly say that, even before reading that article, I was and am doing everything in my power to embrace it.
- Instead of complaining about our current “homeless” state, I’m embracing the help of generous friends (who are truly like more like family) that allow us to not just stay with them, but live (eat, sleep, breathe, fellowship, laugh, cry) with them until we find a new place.
- Instead of shutting people out, insisting we rebuild and replace our things on our own, we’ve allowed people to give to us. At this moment, we have just about enough money to replace everything — everything — that was stolen from us. I am speechless. So humbled.
- Instead of focusing on the real darkness of the situation, we’re focusing on the true light — the real God moments — that have taken shape over the past week. There have been several.
- Instead of mourning the loss of things, we are rejoicing in the abundance of love — for and within each other and those around us.
I know it sounds cliche and strange, but when you ask me how I am today, I can absolutely say, without a doubt, something along the lines of:
Oh me? I’m great. Really great. I am blessed, and loved, and humbled. I have such a supportive and loving family, one I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I am incredibly healthy. I am taking part in one of God’s greatest miracles by growing a tiny life inside me, one that has been entrusted to my husband and me to care for as long as we live. I am free to laugh and to cry without judgement or question and I know a Man who died to save me from what I deserve on the days I’m not perfect. Even though I am experiencing some real discomfort right now, I am embracing it, because I know that not only will it pass, but it will further mold and shape me into the woman God has called me to be.
I am great. Thanks for asking.