Category Archives: Life’s Lessons

Cancer, Cats, and the Grief I Didn’t Know Existed

This has been a slow blogging year for me.  I normally blog about whatever gripping issue I can’t get off my mind, but this year, I haven’t really been able to talk about what has been on my mind.

In February, my mom was diagnosed with glioblastoma, which is stage 4 brain cancer.  I’ve had so much to say about it.  I’ve wanted to write so many things.  I’m not sure if not talking about it here has been the right thing to do.  Either way, it’s been hard to not synthesize my thoughts and send them out into the world.

I normally talk about general issues that kind of and sort of apply to potentially everyone.  Am I vague enough?  My point- I don’t feel like anyone is very invested in anything I have to say .  This topic is very different.  I don’t want to upset people.  Especially not my family.  It’s not that I might say anything cruel or untrue, but, to be supremely euphemistic, it is a sensitive topic.

There is so much I could say.  So mush I will say eventually.

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Stake conference rolled around several weeks after my mom was diagnosed, and it was a struggle to get there.  I remember laying in bed and thinking to myself, “nothing they are going to talk about has anything to do with me.”  I was wrong.  A young woman whose cancer was in remission had been asked to speak.  Now the fact that she had cancer, while coincidental, is not the point of this story. The point is that she said words similar to these, describing how she reacted to her diagnosis: “I had just been going about my young single adult life, having fun, when I was hit with this.  I had had no idea that the sadness I subsequently experienced even existed in the world.”

That is it.  I had no idea that this kind of sadness even existed.  That is really what this post is about- sadness.

This has been a weepy week for me in particular.  I’m not sure why, nor do I care.  I don’t owe anyone an explanation and neither do my emotions.  It’s so funny though, the times it hits you.  In the bathroom at a dinner party, in your chemistry lab, getting out of the shower, listening to a friend talk about their new car.  It sometimes stays for hours, or minutes, or sometimes it’s just a twinge, hardly even present enough to be noticed.

It wanders around my life like a spoiled and independent house cat.  It can’t be summoned- strangely enough, I have tried.  There have been moments when I didn’t feel like I felt sad enough, especially when having to listen to the lamenting of others.  It also is not easily shooed away.  It just lifts its head, stares you in the face for a few moments, and then settles back into it place.

It also usually hides when company comes over.  Most people wouldn’t even know that you had a cat.

Lately my life has been really great.  I have a job that I enjoy and where I feel appreciated.  I am maintaining my 4.0 and actually am having fun in my labs.  I’ve been camping 6 times in the last five months.  I’ve decided to train for a half marathon and that is coming along slowly, but surely.  I love my ward and feel more comfortable at church than I have in years.  I have a number of true, close friends who I feel like I can be completely genuine and even vulnerable with.  So things are going great, and I think that that’s how it probably looks to others.  What in the world do I have to be sad about?

And I even allowed to be sad?  Sometimes I feel like I’m not.

Tonight after my institute class I did my regular socializing and mingling.  I was happy to be there, but as I found myself staring into people’s eyes as they spoke to me about their surgery, or their boyfriend, or their classes, or whatever, and thinking, “I wish you knew how I felt right now.  I wish you knew that I am on the verge of weeping.”  It’s like half of my brain is there with them, laughing, flirting, talking about nothing, and the other half only experiences hurt. I want people to know, but I’m not going to tell people, because then what?  What can be said?  Nothing.

Now, I do appreciate people’s kind and supportive words.  I feel their love and love them for it.

But love and grief can coexist.

And so can joy and grief.  Maybe not in anyone else, but they can, and do, in me. I will never let sadness feel welcome in my heart, but, while it is here, I am willing to acknowledge its contribution.  It is the greatest educator I have ever had.  It is the most refining fire I have ever endured.  It is the most fruitful field I have ever been forced to reap.

Grief has made me calmer, kinder, and more gentle.  It has made me more grateful and less expectant.  It has opened my eyes to the good of this world, and has shown me how pathetic a negative outlook is. I feel like this is where  I am supposed to say that I am grateful for my trials- that they make me stronger.  I’m not grateful- as a matter of fact, this trial can go die in a fire.  I will never thank my circumstance, because it is horrible.

But I will be thankful for the fruits of my trial.  I am contained to be so, I feel like I have no choice in the matter.  My thanks is to God.

Life is beautiful, and also sometimes horrible.  One single moment can be both grand and devastating. We do need to know the bitter to know the sweet, but the bitter will never be sweet to us.

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Just as a P.S., we keep a blog for my mom called Marcia the Outlier, which we share to keep people informed on her condition, and also as a form of outreach to other GBM patients and their families.

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Communication GAPs: On Not Being Offended Because You Really Never Know

Guys, GAP is having a great sale right now- 40% off the entire store.  I have been there three times this weekend.

During my visit on Friday, I was squatting at a low shelf searching through stacks of jeans trying to find my trusty dark wash size 14 skinnys when I heard a woman near me say something like, “Do you guys not have these jeans in over a size 10?”

A few seconds passed before I realized that nobody was responding to her.  I took a quick glance around and realized that we were kind of alone in our corner of the store.

“Might she be asking me???,” I thought to myself.  “Do I look like I work here?”  I was wearing a mint green promo T-Shirt, grubby, jeans, sandals, and a ponytail.  I didn’t have a cart of a lanyard or a badge or a radio or, I thought, any of the other items that usually gives one away as an employee of a retail store.  Surely she couldn’t have been talk to me!  But…nobody else was around, so, surely, she was.

I found myself amused at the honest mistake and was interested in finding out what led her to make it, so I look up and i asked,

Do I look like I work here?

Are you seeing why this was problematic?  I was asking her an honest, friendly question about my outfit and what it may or may not have resentful.  But the way she heard it was, “Of course I don’t work here, you dumb broad!”

She responded with something like, “Oh well you just really looked like you knew what you were doing.” (Which, granted, I did.)

I tried making a friendly remark, which was probably also interpreted as annoyed and rude, and she walked away without responding.

This poor woman- she was asking for help, and she got rudely snapped at by some stranger with a bad attitude.

The thing is, this stranger wasn’t snapping, or being rude, and actually had a fine attitude.  It’s just that the words I used (which suited the circumstance perfectly) were also words one might used if they were trying to be cuttingly sarcastic.

I offended her.  No offense was meant.

So next time somebody says something rude, assume they are trying to be sweet and just happened to use words that sounded rude to you.

“What is wrong with you?” could be an honest expression of concern.

“Your outfit isn’t great” could mean that your outfit is flippin’ awesome.

“Get out of my face” could mean that you owe it to yourself to take a nice vacation because you’ve been under a lot of stress lately and you would first need to get out of their face since their face is not on vacation.

And even if they do mean these things the rude way, they will stop meaning it once you act oblivious to their jerkiness.  🙂

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To my twenty-something friends: Can we stop trying to be each other, please?

be each otherSo I have some stuff going for me. I graduated from a Top 50 college at 22, I went on a mission, I’ve taught seminary as my actual job, I’ve done awesome outreach work through multiple non-profit organizations, and I’m a published author. That’s good, right?

But I’m not married, have no children, no graduate degrees, and really not much professional progress. And that’s bad. Well, at least I feel like it’s bad, and it’s the part I think about.

I’m 26, and all of my friends fall into the early 20’s to mid 30’s range. I’m blessed to know and love the best set of people on the planet. They are awesome and they do awesome things.

But (and you knew this was coming) every time I become aware of some facet of their station in life, I immediately compare myself. If my 24 year old friend just got her Master’s, I feel so far behind. If my 29 year old friend get’s her Master’s, I feel an anxious urgency to hurry up and “do something” so that I can keep pace.

My late teens to early 20’s had a good cadence about them- I left for college at 17, took classes every summer, got my mission call two weeks after my 21st birthday, moved out-of-state two weeks after receiving my Bachelor’s degree. From there, my progress felt like it was slowing, but remained steady. I had made up my mind that I wanted to be a full-time employee for the Church Education System, but after two years of actively pursuing that, I found myself at 24, jobless, hopeless, and driving from Salt Lake to California to move back in with my parents.

My self-confidence took a major blow. I had never been the pretty one, the funny one, or the adventurous one, but I had always, ALWAYS been the smart one. My sense of self-worth came from a good college (since that’s what smart people do), and the post-degree translation of that was to get a good job. Or at least an interesting, respectable job.

Not having a job caused me to feel that my education didn’t matter, and really made me feel like it may as well not have happened. When people ask me if I was in school, I wouldn’t tell them I had finished, I would just tell them no. If they asked me if I was working, I wouldn’t recount any of previous work or explain that I was “between jobs”, I would just tell them no. I expected people to see me as a nobody, because I saw (sometimes still see) myself as a nobody.

My lack of direction and lack of hope became so serious that I began to fantasize about death. I would never kill myself because I don’t want the people who love me to have to carry that weight around for the rest of their lives, but I was hoping to get hit my a bus or stricken with some aggressive terminal illness so that I could still die, but without everyone having to know how miserable I was.

I know this sounds crazy to a lot of you. But I also know that to a lot of you, it doesn’t sound crazy at all. I hope that none of you have ever actually secretly wished for death (if you have, you have my compassion), but I know that I can’t be the only one who feels slowed down, held up, or halted all together.

Maybe you are happily married, but struggling to conceive while well-meaning folks keep asking when you’re going to have a baby. (How long have you been married? 5 years?)

Maybe the marriage you hoped and prayed for came, but then went when some cruel form of “incompatibility” arose. Maybe you are in your seventh year of undergraduate work and still struggling to feel comfortable with school. Maybe you got your “dream job” to discover that whatever your dream was, this isn’t it. Maybe you feel slow socially, wondering why you are not a part of the friend groups you see forming around you. There are a lot of ways to feel behind, and in order to be behind, we have to feel like someone else is ahead.

I’m just trying not to feel too far behind.

I’m a lot happier now (praise God). I had a few tender mercies that got me out of my hell-hole of a state of mind and into a more literal hell (Arizona…and it’s July), which was right where I needed to be. That feeling of progress hasn’t quite come, but my hope-o-meter hovers at around 96%. Right now I am facing 3.5 more years of school to earn my second bachelors degree in Nursing, followed by a 2 years master’s degree. This means I will not be done with school until I am 32. This scares me into not wanting to try at all. Graduating at 32 seems so far behind all of my friends who did things “the right way”.

But I know that there is no “right way” besides the one that is right for us. So many of our concerns in this life involve things not matching up to our preferred time table, or feeling like we ourselves are not matching up to our preferred time table. It’s good to have goals, it’s important to have plans, and I believe it’s essential to our happiness to feel like we are progressing. But the rate and nature of the progression of others has nothing to do with our own.

Comparing ourselves to each other either makes us prideful or makes us spiteful. I propose that we should be patient and joyful. Patient with ourselves and with others in times of struggle. And we should allow ourselves to feel joy over the accomplishments achieved by both others and ourselves.

I am likely preaching to the choir. I have said nothing new, but I have said something important. Even if it’s just important to me.

Go (your own “right” way). Fight (your own battles). Win (at your own life).

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Your Emotions Are Not Your Boss, So Don’t Let Them Boss You Around

I am an emotional girl, but that doesn’t mean that I am constantly either crying in despair or doing gymnastics out of joy.  What it means is that when I experience an emotion, I experience it fully (sometimes I would call it “severely”) and that that emotion will usually “make my decisions for me”.  Some examples:

I stay locked up in my room because somebody was rude to me and I feel hurt.

I eat a whole pizza because I have two giant tests tomorrow and I feel stressed.

I awkwardly avoid interacting with a person because I am jealous of them and I feel threatened.

These are all unproductive, and sometimes, harmful, choices that I might make because my emotions are at the the helm.  I am trying to learn to change this and I’ve had a few revelations throughout the last few years that have helped me.  Hopefully they will help you also.

1.  Emotions serve a purpose.  Emotions help us understand the gravity of a situation, and they are meant to prompt us to action.  If somebody says something hurtful and we feel sad about it, that sadness is meant to make us aware of weak social ties that need strengthening.  If we feel a rush of adrenaline when somebody cuts us off in traffic, that rush is meant to heighten our awareness of potential danger and react accordingly.  But usually we engage in petty disputes instead of strengthen social ties, and mutter swear words at a stranger who will never hear them instead of being more aware of our surroundings as we drive.  Even though we do not always (usually?) respond to our emotions in the best way, the emotions themselves are not bad.  Therefor, my goal is not try to help you become less emotional, my goal is to help you respond to your emotions more productively.

2.The purpose of our emotions is not to make decisions for us.  Our emotions are meant to inform our reasoning process, but they are not meant to be reasons themselves.  Usually, doing something just because you are experiencing an emotion is going to be a bad decision.  Better decisions are made with our critical thinking capabilities, taking our emotion into account.  Learning to think critically and act accordingly in times of extreme emotion takes practice, but doing so can make for a much more peaceful and functional way of living.

3. Don’t define yourself by your emotions.  This simple strategy has helped me more than any other in trying not to let me emotions run my life.  Instead of thinking of yourself as being a given emotion, think of yourself as experiencing a particular emotion.  So, instead of saying to yourself, “I am really sad right now”, try saying, “I am experiencing the emotion of sadness rather severely right now.”  Try to do this especially if you are writing down how you feel or trying to express your feelings to another person.  Doing so will help you feel more in control of your situation, and has a way of putting emotions “in their place”.

4. Understand that your emotions do not have a good understanding of reality.  We have all “overreacted” in some manner in our lives.  A person who is not being guided by their emotions does not overreact.  Someone who is thinking critically and analytically about a situation is usually pretty boss at keeping things in perspective.  Overreacting happens when we respond emotionally to a situation and those emotions tell us that what is happening is more significant than it actually is.  Our emotions are often not good at regulating themselves in order for us to feel them in the “right” amount that would prompt us to respond appropriately.  This is why it is good to “count to ten” or to talk about it in the morning- it gives our emotions, which do not really understand the situation, the chance to diminish so that our analytic thinking can run the show.

I hope that I don’t sound like someone who is “emotion-shaming” or thinks it is good to be unemotional.  I think it’s fine and good to experience emotion.  What is even better though, is to learn how to utilize those emotions for our benefit instead of to our detriment.  Doing so creates empowered people and accomplished lives.

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It’s Okay to Not have an Ensign Worthy Life, and Here is Why

Some people have “Ensign Lives” which are made up of “Ensign Experiences”.

ensign experience (n)- one of the many varieties of spiritual phenomena wherein an act of faith is met with an immediate or nearly immediate physical or temporal blessing from God

Examples of Ensign Experiences: You randomly get a check in the mail after making the difficult decision to pay your tithing.  You find your spouse as soon as you decide to devote your life first and foremost to God.  You find an entire family ready to jump in the water because you decided to listen to the Spirit and knock on just one more door.

These make great ensign stories-  they also make great talks and facebook posts.

I don’t have an Ensign Life.  When I was a seminary teacher, I was frequently criticized by both my pupils and my superiors for not sharing enough personal stories.  Well, sorry, I don’t have any of those uplifting, faith affirming stories that people love to feel secured by.  I just don’t.  Most of my suffering has been met with more suffering.  In times of emotional and mental distress, the feeling of God’s distance, not his proximity, has been both prevalent and painful.

I’m not an Ensign Story.

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I’ve been feeling pretty proud of myself lately for establishing a reasonably regular and meaningful scripture study habit.  My lunch break at work was recently extended by 30 minutes, which gives me the perfect amount of time to retrieve my food, eat my food, and study my scriptures (and sometimes even socialize a bit).  I really love being able to read at work. I’m a lot less distracted there than at home, it’s the middle of the day so I’m alert, and, most of all I LOVE it when people ask me what I’m reading.  I have been having the most wonderful experiences with the Book of Mormon.

One day I read the account of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis.  In summary, they were a group of Lamanites who delighted in bloodshed and all manner of iniquity who became converted to Jesus Christ and experienced his wondrous love and mercy.  As part of their repentance and desire to become a changed people, they buried their weapons of war and covenanted to never, under any circumstances, take them up again.

This is all very beautiful and romantic, and as I read, I felt a sense of admiration for these souls as well as a love and gratitude for the Savior of us all.

But these new pacifistic converts are coming under attack.  An army is coming to slay them.  I thought to myself, “There’s no way God is going to let these people die.  How could He?  They are converted!  They are showing so much faith!  God saved Shadrach, Meshack, and Abendego from the fiery furnace.  He tamed the lion in the Den with Daniel!  He parted the Red Sea and delivered an entire nation!  God will do something!  He will strike the army dumb and lame, or cause a great wind to come and sweep them away, or send down a league of angels to fight the battle.  These people are so good, so pure, so devout!  These are the kinds of people who get saved!

I have read this account several times before, and have pondered and discussed it’s implications on numerous occasions, but I, for some, perhaps divine, reason, saw it with new eyes- eyes that couldn’t see how God would actually let them die.  This is the perfect set up for an Ensign Story.

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I am guilty of looking at different areas of my life and thinking, “this is the perfect set up for an Ensign Story!  I’m faithful, right God?  I’m trying my best, right God?  I’m faithful and I’m trying my best even when I don’t feel like it, right God?  …right?  …God?”

I look around and see what looks like God loving his faithful children.  Sometimes, from these ignorant and prideful eyes, He seems to bless others with so much more than he blesses me with, even though I feel like I give so much more than they do. I’ve suffered and struggled and been faithful through it, so where is my reward?  Where is my awesome compensation that I can use as proof of God’s existence from the pulpit in the next testimony meeting?

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The Anti-Nephi-Lehis stand firm in their faith and fastened to their covenant to not take up arms against their enemies.  As their enemies approach them, they peacefully go out to meet them.  Lying prostrate on the ground before those who wish to kill them, they call on the name of the Lord!

Such humility!  Such preparation for the hand of the Lord to perform a miracle on their behalf!  This is when it’s supposed to happen!  This is the punchline of the Ensign Story!  But wait…

And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay a thousand and five of them; and we know that they are blessed, for they have gone to dwell with their God. (Alma 22:24)

No angels.  No wall of fire.  No miracle.  They devoted what was left of their short lives to God, and he allowed them to be slain while lying face-down on the dirt with his name on their lips.

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At times I have felt like God has allowed me to be embarrassed, or depressed, or defeated, lying face-down in the dirt with his name on my lips.

Does God not love me?   Does GOD NOT LOVE me?  Sometimes I just don’t understand.  Sometimes things are just not the way they are supposed to be.

The Anti-Nephi-Lehies may have not understood what was happening to them.  They may have been confused.  Maybe they even wondered about God’s allegiance to them in the face of their proven and complete allegiance to him.

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But, brothers and sisters, let us keep reading.  The Lamanites (their attackers) witness what is happening.

Now it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war, and they would not take them again, for they were stung for for the murdered which they had committed; and they came down even as their brethren, relying on the mercies of those whose arms were lifted to slay them.

And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those had been slain were a righteous people; therefor we have no reason to doubt but what they were saved. (Alma 24:25-26)

A miracle did happen.  Others, even their murderers, were brought to a knowledge of the Lord, and thus, were brought to salvation.  This is not the miracle I was expecting.  This is not the divine intervention I was anticipating.

And it’s in verse 27 that we fine the punchline to this non-Ensign story:

…thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people. (Alma 24:27)

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I submit that this is always the punchline to the story of the faithful- God offers salvation, and works according to his own wisdom and his unspeakable love.

You may die a single man or a childless woman.  You may always be poor or in physical pain.  You may always struggle and you may always suffer.  To be candid, this pains me to say.  But I know that salvation can be found in even what seems to be the most dire of circumstances.

I’m not telling you to “have the eternal perspective” and exercise the “faith necessary” in order to imagine away the reality and pain of mortality.  What I am telling you is that God is working for your salvation.  You may not understand the means he is using, and you may go down to your grave not knowing.  But through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, true salvation is available to all.

So let’s not be discouraged if you don’t have an Ensign Life.  Don’t feel inferior if your testimony isn’t teeming with stories of obvious and immediate miracles.  I know that the greatest miracle (and the only miracle that really matters) is the one found in the grace and love of the Lord Jesus Christ- which is ultimate salvation and redemption.

jesuschristblog

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Dear 19 Year Old Juliet,

This isn’t a letter of advice; I am not trying to rewrite my life.  None of what I say will alter your decision making.  This is a letter of information- just some things I would like for you to know.

You think you have the best friends in the world right now, as most people do at your age.  The difference between you and them is that you are right and they are usually wrong.  Your friends are as loyal and as well-meaning as they seem.  As years pass, distance will come between you.  You will see less and less of them- they will marry, leave on missions, head across the country to go to graduate school.  But you will love them always, and they will love you always.  Juliet, the friends you have now are the truest you may ever have.  I miss them.  I miss spending my days, my nights, and my way-too-late-nights with them.

You have a jealousy problem.   I know the people that you are jealous of better than you do.  You see their strengths and their joys, but in time I have come to see their weaknesses and their sorrows.  Nobody has it better than you do.  Trust me, you do not want their problems.

You wear one of two pairs of jeans and one of two UCSB sweatshirts everyday.  Sometimes you wear a shirt underneath, sometimes you don’t.  You wear nerdy glasses and never spend any time on your hair or make-up.  And I like you’re style.  In a few years you’re going to feel more compelled to put effort into your appearance, but you’re good for now.  I find it endearing- picturing you in your slouchy clothes with a backpack on, walking down the street, thinking about something that probably doesn’t really matter.

I’ve been thinking about they way you’ve dealt with the boys in your life.  I’m really proud of how you’ve handled things.  I know that you just did what you thought was obvious, but it’s only obvious because you are so committed to what is right.  Most people would have danced around those situations, but you are fearless in matters of morality.  You have a love of doing what’s right.

We’re not shy when it comes to talking about sex, huh?  You are very good at “just saying no”.  You get a little bit of a thrill by showing off your awesome levels of self control.   It really is kind of amazing- your commitment to virginity.  One day, you’re going to resent that you’re still having to say no.  Don’t get haughty, don’t get over-confident.  Right now you’re at the very base of an Everest-high uphill battle.

A little bit more about boys.  You don’t feel like you get quite enough attention from a certain kind of guy.  That certain kind being Mormon.  But you’ll get plenty of attention from Mormon boys in the future.  And you can look forward to the company of some good, good men.

It’s typical for us to look back on our younger years and dismiss our former woes and tribulations as being petty preoccupations.  Juliet, I would never do that to you.  I know that you feel like life is cruel sometimes.  It is cruel.  Your deepest despairs are still in front of you.  That pains me to say as much as it pains you to hear.  Other people are going to read this letter and they might wonder why I’m dwelling on this.  If they knew what we knew, they would understand why I have to talk to you about this.  I’m not ready to say that the things that hurt are going to be worth it or that you will one day be grateful for them.  I don’t feel gratitude for them, not yet at least.  But Juliet, you are going to become filled with compassion.  It’s terrible, I wish it wasn’t this way, but the truth is that your pain is making you into a better woman.

By your 23rd birthday you will have taken your last anti-depressant.

There is so much that I don’t understand.

You love Jesus, but not nearly as much as I do.  You have no idea how good he is.  I know that you’ve experienced forgiveness, but you’re going to be experiencing a whole lot more.

The next six years are going to be full of failed attempts.  You would feel sad if I listed them for you.  You are going to feel like a disappointment.  You are going to be sorely disappointed in yourself.   But nobody is ever going to be disappointed in you.  Really, nobody is going to care that you will have to keep starting over.

People love you because you’re kind and you’re good and people always know where you stand.   And when you’re 25, you’re still going to be those things.

You’re better than me in a lot of ways.  You have more faith than I do.  More hope too.  You’re more obedient and less critical.  You’re doing great, Juliet.  You’re amazing.  You do what’s right just because it’s right and you love everybody because that’s just who you are.  I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, but that’s because you’re just that good.

This isn’t a letter of advice.

I love you , you raggedy, distracted, obnoxiously analytic little girl.

Love,

25 (almost 26) year old Juliet

Dear 19 Year Old Juliet

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When You’re Dealing With a Broken Heart

I got to play chauffeur last night.  My client: a 16 year old boy.  His task: to break up with his girlfriend of over a year.

English: Women with Broken Heart

They talked in her front yard, I sat in my car and waited.  My phone died after about 5 minutes, so I wasn’t able to distract myself with the usual wastes of time (Candy Crush, Reddit, Instagram),  which meant that I really didn’t have a choice but to roll down my windows to get some fresh air and some fresh teenage break-up conversation.  (I’m nosey…it’s a weakness)

But she lives on a busy street so it was hard to hear.  I actually didn’t hear any words…I only heard her crying.

Now, I don’t really know this girl, and I have been lobbying for the ending of this relationship since the time it started, but my heart broke for her and with her.  I really believe that what he was doing was right, but when you’re young and in love, what’s right is not nearly as important as what is familiar, safe, and validating.

Her tears took me back two years ago, to a different summer night in a different city with a different boy and a different girl, but with the same plot.  He is ready for it to be over and she just…doesn’t understand.  She tries to make her reasoning his, but he has made up his mind, and, honestly, has already moved on.

My eyes were puffy for a solid month from crying.  As the love and ease of summer turned into the labor of fall and then the loneliness of winter, I struggled for reconciliation- not the reconciliation of our relationship, but the reconcilaition of who I thought I was and what I had worked for with the fact that I was told that he would just “never be able to love me.”

I really did love him, and I really did miss him, but what I missed more was that feeling of being indisposable- that feeling you get from knowing that somebody chooses you over the billions of people on the planet, that of all the beautiful creatures in the world you are the one who somebody wants to come home to…so when they don’t want to come home to you anymore, you feel disposable, and disposed of.

I don’t deal well with being broken-hearted, but I don’t know anybody who does.  I guess I eventually “got over it”, but it took a while, and the older I get, the longer it seems to take.  I want to give a few suggestions on how to deal with a broken heart.  Really, it’s more like how to deal with life in spite of having a broken heart.  I don’t really know of anything that fixes heartache except for time and Jesus, but I do think that there are things we can do to make life more bearable.

1. Talk about it, cry about it.  You really don’t need to pretend to be strong.  Really, it has nothing to do with strength.  You can talk about it, even if it feels like you are saying the sam thing over and over again.  You can cry about it, even if it feels ridiculous.  It is okay to feel sadness.  Allow yourself to experience this emotion, and when the proper time comes, allow yourself to let it go.

2. Do things, even though you don’t feel like it.  Don’t put your life on hold.  Even if you are not ready to enjoy “getting out and doing things”, I know that doing so will help you prepare for the rest of your awesome life that you have yet to live.  Don’t deny yourself experiences that could potentially lead to something awesome.

3. Don’t assign blame to your ex.  First of all, it will make you look stupid.  Second of all, as tempting as it is to “get back at them” by hating them and telling all your friends their faults, it doesn’t do anything to help that broken heart heal, and it really just makes you hard and less capable of giving and receving love in the future.

4. Try to feel grateful.  A few nights before my big heartache, there was a giant thunderstorm.  My boyfriend and I laid on (which, by the way, is very different from laying IN) his bed until 2 or 3 in the morning just listening to the thunder and the rain, waiting like anxious school children for the next flash of lightning to illuminate the room.  I’m bot really sure why, but it was one of the sweetest, most serene moments of my life.  I’m so glad it happened.  The fact that he broke up with me two nights later doesn’t make it less important or less special.  Aprreciate what happened for what it was, and understand that most good things have to come to close.

I wish I could take my mended heart and transplant it into the chest of this sweet 16 year old girl.  As I heard her cries last night, I wanted to get out of my car, push him to the side, and just promise her that things were okay, that in a few months (maybe even a few weeks or days) this wouldn’t even hurt anymore.

And if your heart is breaking, know that it will get better.  I don’t know when or how, but I know that it will- it has to.  I know what it’s like to hurt, and I know what it’s like to be healed.  I would never try to talk you out of being sad, I would never try to convince you that your pain isn’t real or that you don’t have a reason to feel grief.  But I need you to know that this feeling isn’t forever.

One last thing.  This is Jesus speaking in Luke 4:18:

 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.

He came to heal your broken heart.  In Him, you are already healed, whole, and perfect.

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