I am incredibly blessed. On paper, I have more than I ever thought possible:
- A funny, wise, loving husband.
- Three wonderful children.
- A career I really enjoy.
- Supportive parents and siblings on both sides of our family.
- Friends near and far.
And yet, life is hard.
- As amazing as my husband is, we’re both flawed people and marriage takes work.
- As wonderful as my children are, they’re also flawed and have years of maturing ahead of them.
- As much as I enjoy my career, it can be mentally exhausting; some days it completely drains my capacity for making decisions and zaps my brain power.
- As supportive as our extended family is, they also have their own lives, priorities, and challenges.
- As much as we love our friends, there’s never enough time to really spend together, without responsibilities pulling us apart and growing distance between us.
Even without the chaos of random things that pop up, the day-to-day of life is challenging. There’s always more to do than the confines of 24 hours a day allow for. It’s hard.
And it’s okay that it’s hard.
Hope Heals: Finding the Joy
I really enjoyed Katherine Wolf’s perspective during Priscilla Shirer’s Going Beyond Simulcast. As a woman with life-long disabilities after a catastrophic stroke in 2008, she and her husband are working to disrupt the myth that joy can only be found in a pain-free life.
During the simulcast, Katherine shared that there’s sadness in our stories, but we can still have joy. If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. And it’s okay if it’s really hard. I really like how she summarizes that life is hard for all of us on her website:
Who among us feels fully free, even when he can walk on his own? Who feels truly beautiful, even when her face is not paralyzed? Who feels completely understood, even without a speech impairment? The answer is a resounding no one. We are all disabled. Some of our “wheelchairs” are simply on the inside instead of the outside.
When it’s hard–no matter why it’s hard–there are three things Katherine said can help you find the joy:
- Pray. Ask God, “May I steward this well, may I point to you, may I be found faithful.”
- Focus on radical gratitude for what remains in your story. We don’t know what the future will hold, but He’s using this season you’re in now to help prepare you for what’s next.
- Write down things you’re thankful for. This isn’t just an activity to do in November! Developing an attitude of gratitude can help your perspective all year.
Katherine also shared that our perspective in suffering makes all the difference. In addition to focusing on the things you’re grateful for, she said it helps to remember that life is never pain free. There is joy in the painful points of the story He’s writing in our lives. He made us to do hard things, and while we can’t control what happens, we can control how we respond.
She also pointed out that instead of focusing inward and getting caught up in how hard things are, we heal by focusing on others. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1, the trail you’re blazing is a light to others going through it, too!
I really appreciated that she also pointed out that you control how you feel about your story–no one else does. It’s not a comparison game, about how someone had it easier or harder. It’s hard for all of us. Instead, we need to support each other and lift each other up!
That’s why I think it’s important for us to be open about the fact that we don’t have it all together. As a naturally optimistic person, I know I have a tendency to sugar-coat things and share the silver linings, but I wonder if there are ways I can portray a more genuine snapshot. I wonder how that might help others that are experiencing struggles I’ve wrestled with or am also facing on a daily basis.
I pray God helps use my challenges to be a light that points towards Him, and that He uses your challenges in ways you can see Him at work in your life, too.