These words whooshed into my heart this morning and I figured they were meant to share. I have been feeling deeply and praying hard lately for people I know who are facing uphill battles and dark days. It’s hard to know what to say.
When I have been on the flip side, the one being loved up during difficult times, I have been comforted by friends’ words – but confused by a handful. Of course, they were all delivered with good intent, but sometimes when your grief or worry is so great, certain words fall flat or make the heart ache more.
Like “stay strong.” When someone tells me to stay strong, I can’t wrap my head around what that means. Don’t cry? Don’t crumble? Pump some iron? They just aren’t words that motivate me to keep moving forward; instead, the idea of “staying strong” feels like added pressure. In times of trouble, I want to know it’s okay to fall apart and trust that there are people around me to help pick me up off the floor.
And when they do, I am so incredibly grateful. And that’s an amazing feeling when you’re in the depths of despair – to feel thankful for something, anything.
It’s easy to be grateful when things are going good. But it’s a stretch when your world has spun off its axis. That, I think, is what makes it so powerful. My dad used to love the quote “fear and gratitude cannot exist within the same breath.” I can still see him – not long after he was diagnosed with cancer – standing in his driveway, looking up at his beloved trees, taking a deep breath and saying it out loud. That wisdom helped us get through some shitty days during his cancer journey – and since losing him, I have leaned on those words – and that moment with him – countless times.
So, for me – those words that hit my heart this morning really rang true. When times get tough, they key is not to stay strong…the key is to stay grateful.