The Heartbreaking Beauty of Shared Burden

I’ve been trying to marvel at humans a little more lately. There is so much in the world to make me despair of truth and goodness. Maybe becoming more aware of the intense pain and brokenness of humankind is a side-effect of growing up, but it’s also incredibly heavy and discouraging. When it all feels like too much, I remind myself of this quote by our dear friend, Mr. Rogers:

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers-so many caring people in this world.”

I am not always good at looking for the helpers. I can become incredibly overwhelmed by pain and suffering and fear. And sometimes the emotional impact of that feels so isolating that I forget that I am not alone in feeling it. However, lately I have been working harder than ever to look deeper into the pain I see in the world and in the lives of those around me, and to see within it the intense love and selflessness that I believe must characterize humans just as much as our brokenness.

In the past couple of weeks I have had the honor to witness moments of this love and to watch people I know mourn together, care for others together, and beautifully share the burdens of being human together. The pain and love I see and feel in those moments feel so intrinsically linked to the heart of humanity and to the heart of God. Despite the hurt and frustration that this shared mourning results from, reflecting upon the love that inspires people to share in the heaviest parts of being with one another fills me with appreciation and awe for what we are capable of.

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what I will do in life to add to be beauty of the world and to detract from some of the pain, and while I want to continue to do that, I am also trying to focus of becoming someone who simply lives beautifully and loves the people in her life deeply and without restraint, no matter what I am doing. The presence and connection we foster with people in our lives is so beautiful, even if it feels small. The burden of being human is large, and I am trying to let the beauty of sharing that burden with others loom just as large in my heart.

IMG_9424

 

Advertisements

Re-examining “Flaws”

Earlier this week I was talking with a friend about my dislike, and sometimes even fear, of change and how I wish I was better at embracing transition and uncertainty in my life. My discomfort with change has been something that I’ve considered one of my bigger flaws for a long time, so I was surprised when my friend responded, “Well, I think the world needs both kinds of people though.” I’ve found myself coming back to that a lot in the past couple of days.

Lately, I have been acutely aware of the fact that I am entering a new, largely unplanned and uncertain chapter of my life. As I try to prepare myself to roll with the punches, I have thought a lot about how I might work on being more comfortable with change and not having a plan. While I still believe that being fearful and avoiding change are definitely not healthy behaviors, I’ve been experimenting with imagining how my desire for stability (which is probably a more positive way to frame my discomfort with change) and my ability to create and carry out a plan can serve me in this next chapter.

Sometimes I forget that I can be a good, healthy, fulfilled person without fitting this perfect idea of what that looks like that I have created in my mind (an obvious theme is many of my posts). Hearing my friend affirm that even traits which I have been consistently framing as negative also have their positive applications, reminded me that the line between our struggles and our gifts is sometimes blurrier than we realize. For this reason I am trying to reframe how I look at my “flaws.” I know that, personally, I can get so entrenched in trying to solve the negative sides of certain traits, that I fail to appreciate how those same traits have positive sides as well.

Another example of this is my recent realization that I think about people a lot. Somehow I didn’t realize until I was at least 20 that not everyone is walking around with everyone they know and care about in their brain almost all the time. There are people that I haven’t seen in years that I still think of every day, not because there are unresolved tensions or emotions between us, just because I wonder how they’re doing, or I see something that they would like, or I spend time with someone that we both know. I once had a friend, in an attempt to make me feel loved and cared for, tell me that they thought of me often, “at least every couple of days” which did make me feel loved, but also confused because I thought of them ten times every day at least.

In my college years this trait has felt like more of a burden than a gift. For one thing, I am still learning to understand that people whose minds don’t work like mine can still love and care for me deeply, even if I don’t always live at the forefront of their brains. But I also have some suspicion that living with everyone you care about in your head all the time isn’t always helpful in periods of loneliness and isolation. I’ve felt like this is something weird about me that I should counteract in some way. However, as I’ve been reflecting this week, I wonder if I have underestimated the gift that comes with being able to carry people with you the way that I seemed wired to do.

IMG_0444

It’s becoming clear to me that some of my gifts and unique traits can feel like struggles because I haven’t completely learned how to use them yet. Which is actually kind of exciting because it means that there are parts of myself that I’ve been taking for granted that have the potential to be helpful to others and to myself if I take the time to acknowledge and cultivate them. Even if I am not always comfortable with those traits, learning to form them and use them in healthy ways is part of becoming my best self. A self that is necessary in the world, regardless of whether it matches up with my unattainable ideals.

New Project!!

Hi everyone, obviously I haven’t been very active on this blog in the last 3 months, this is mainly because I have been working on a new project that launched just yesterday! A friend of mine and I have started Ignited magazine, an online magazine by and for people ages 18-26 who are seeking to follow Jesus in our every day lives through art, social justice, and personal development. You can check it out at ignitedmag.com.

Header Ignited