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In the aftermath of more baffling violence in Brussels and around the world this week, Easter comes and knocks at the door. Its arrival almost feels ill-timed. How can we open the door to Easter and celebrate its presence of grace and peace when violence splatters the front page of the newspaper each morning and fear grips our hearts every time we drop our children off at school? It's hard to have hope when there's so much present pain and sorrow. When life feels like such a mess.
When I was a child, I had the hardest time at sleepovers. For most little girls, slumber parties were the stuff of dreams, but for me it was a date with my demons. No matter how hard I tried to talk reason to myself or how sincerely excited I was to be with my friends, once the sun went down an intense fear would overtake me that my parents and brothers were going to die while I was away. Visions of car crashes, fires, and shootings would play out in my mind and no matter how many times I called my mother to check on everybody, nothing soothed me but being with them. Eventually the night ended in tears and my parents would come and get me. My ten-year-old self was never able to articulate my fears very well and they were simply written off as being a mama's girl, but now that I'm older I understand it better. Fear creeps into our lives in different shapes and forms, but once unmasked and confronted, he's always the same wormy conman. He plays on our insecurities and his power lies in two things: first, that he takes a kernel of truth and twists and exaggerates it, but it's that little nugget of truth that gives it traction; and secondly, our faulty belief that we actually have the ability to control things.
Life is scary. It is dangerous. It never plays out as we imagine it will. We aren't promised tomorrow, and as much as we try and desire, we cannot protect the ones we love from harm. And if that was the end of the matter, I don't think I would ever have the strength to let the ones I love out of my sight. But as powerful as fear can be, there is something even stronger â love. Bad guys and monsters will come, but so will the heroes and heroines. There is an underlying goodness that at times feels no louder than a whisper, but it's always there. In this we have hope. That just like our favorite stories, books, and movies, that goodness will win and love will conquer all.
We often don't know what to say or do in response to life's WTF moments. But here are three tips to do when you don't know what to do:
1. Give yourself time and space to feel all the feels.
When life doesn't turn out like you imagined it - and if it hasn't yet, it will - allow yourself to experience the feelings it stirs up. Anger, frustration, sorrow... all of these are natural and healthy responses to loss. Don't get caught up in how you should or shouldn't feel or act because stuffing these emotions down only hurts you more in the end. Talk to your family and friends. Write. Paint. See a counselor. Pray. Meditate.
2. Let go of the life you dreamed of and embrace the life you have.
Life doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. As women it's so easy to idealize ourselves and our lives, and then work tirelessly to live up to our high expectations only to be disappointed when we don't reach them. Even though your life might look different than you imagined, own it and embrace it all. It's uniquely yours, and it's the only one you're going to get! And with a little gratitude and grace, you will see that no matter how smudged it is sometimes, it's full of immense beauty.
3. Hold fast to your intention and grow deep roots.
When life rejects you and hurts you, it's extremely difficult to put yourself out there again. Walls go up and defense mechanisms are put in place. It's important to guard your heart, but don't let fear rule your life. We live in a war of good and evil, and we need all the players on our team that we can get. You were not meant to sit on the sidelines, you were meant to fight, be a fearsome and beautiful heroine, and leave an unforgettable legacy in this world and the lives of others. Take time to discover and reconnect with your life's purpose, and then go after it with all your might. As Rumi wrote, "All doubt, despair, and fear become insignificant once the intention of life becomes love." Hold fast to your intention, and it will be the roots of your tree in the midst of life's storms. The winds may shake you, but with strong roots, you will remain upright and strong.
Easter is about love meeting us where we are. Not when we are ready for it, not when we've earned it, but when we need it most. Our hope for you this Easter is that you will see and praise the goodness and beauty that is present in your life even in the midst of the messiness.