On growing pains, dark times, and beginning again…

My community had a rough week. We yelled at each other. We let our big feelings get the best of us. Feelings were hurt. Friendships ended.

It doesn’t really matter what happened. It’s the universal story of our times. This is our Zeitgeist – the mood of the moment. If it hadn’t been this, it would have been something else. We are learning how to feel big things with grace, and it’s hard, hard work.

I believe we are evolving as a species. And like all cosmic shifts, it hurts. And because I am at my core an eternal optimist, I also believe all of this struggle and discomfort is leading us to a better place. I believe we are experiencing growing pains on a global scale.

I know there are people who feel like this is the end of us. It’s okay to feel this way, but try to remember that is your fear talking, not the truth.

When you start to feel hopeless, please remember that humanity has faced dark times before. The world has been scary and horrific and ugly in its own way all along, and yet, here we are. I see no reason to believe we are suffering any more than any other era. We see it more, because of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, but it’s no worse than it ever was.

Remember when that one guy with the bad mustache tried to eliminate an entire race of people?

Remember when we blew two entire cities off the face of the earth?

Remember when we enslaved another entire race of people?

I could go on and on, to the very beginning.

I do not mean to downplay the severity of our current circumstances. I know it’s ugly out there. My body knows it, as I fight against a day’s long migraine. I thought I’d worked past this physical manifestation of the world’s pain. But alas, I have not.

I let my guard down, and the world got the best of me. And in the aftermath, as I struggle through this writing task with pain pulsing through my head and neck, I give myself grace. Learning is hard, and it is not linear. Sometimes – when we’re tired and scared and angry – we forget what we’ve learned.

Earlier today, I was angry at myself. How did I allow the world to get to me so, when surely I know better? But I breathed through it, and now I see that I am only human, and sometimes even boundaries coaches let the world in.

It’s okay to pick yourself up and try again.

Let’s talk about letting our guard down.

On its surface, the idea of being guarded flies in the face of everything I believe, everything I teach. Aren’t we supposed to love everyone, despite our differences?

The answer to that questions, of course, is yes, we are.

When I talk about letting my guard down, I don’t mean I give into hate. Although certainly that’s a toxic thing to do, and certainly it happens. But that’s not what happened to me last week.

What I did was I let other people’s hate sink into my body and reside there. Call it negative energy, call it darkness, call it whatever you want. Whatever it is, it hurts my heart, body, and mind, and I need to dispel it.

Because that’s the thing about boundaries, right? It’s not just telling people no. It’s deciding what we’re going to allow to soak into our soul, and what we will love from a safe distance.

What does this look like, exactly?

I need to listen to my body. It is begging for me to move back into a space of peace. I need to step away and lean in, all at once. Lean in to listen to what my body is saying, and step away to catch my breath and find my center.

To do this, I must let go of everything except what is bright and good and worthy of my attention. Does this mean I bury my head in the sand? Maybe, for just a day or two.

I know it is a luxury to have the opportunity to do this. I know that if I were fleeing for my life, seeking refuge in a foreign land as my home was destroyed, I would not have the gift of distance from fear, anger, hurt, and horror.

But that’s part of it, right? Because when we force ourselves to reside in the dark when it isn’t necessary, we aren’t able to help those who don’t have a choice. Guilt and shame for my privilege and opportunity to rest does no one any good.

And so I step away.

I allow myself to rest. And maybe resting doesn’t look like curling up in my bed in the fetal position, begging God to take the pain away. That’s what I used to do. But instead, this week I’ll be volunteering at a youth event, teaching kids how to count blessings and reassuring them that they are safe.

This opportunity was scheduled before this little blip in my journey. There was a time when I’d have been frustrated and overwhelmed by the prospect of spending three hours for three days with a bunch of excited kids on the tail of a migraine. But I see it differently now. There will be no time for fear and anger. Only time for love and laughter and gratitude.

This week, surrounded by giggling, restless, excited kids, I won’t have time to think about all the ugliness in the world. It is a gift. And once I’ve rested…

I must reconstruct the boundaries that fell.

Once I’ve found my center again, I will step back into the fray, armed with gratitude and peace, to pick up where I left off, but wiser.

Because we don’t just learn from rising, do we? We learn from falling, too. That’s the most beautiful part about the human experience – there is always a lesson, always a chance to grow and do better next time.

After all, as Margaret Mitchell wrote, tomorrow is another day.

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