If you are struggling with depression or any form of self-harm or clinical mental illness, this post is not intended for you and I gratefully ask you to refrain from reading.
Chris has been traveling every week this year for work, which has been harder than either of us expected. We've both felt lonely, missing each other desperately as we try to connect each night via the phone. I've tried to keep him updated on the baby's growth and the progress in our house, wanting him to feel like he's integral to the process, with or without his boots on the ground.
As we close in on the last few months before the baby arrives, I've caught myself throwing a little pity party. How sad. Chris is missing the last half of the pregnancy. And how sad for me to spend so much of my pregnancy alone. How sad that our last few weeks as a family of two are being spent apart...
I noticed this narrative I was repeating in my head recently - one part sympathy for Chris, one part for myself. It hit me one morning how dangerous this game was.
You see, one of the best lessons I've learned is to never unnecessarily make yourself a victim.
Yes, being pregnant, without your husband, in a new town, while doing home renovations can be pretty lonely. I should give myself the empathy and grace to understand it might feel like a challenge. I should take a few moments when I need it to recognize that things might feel hard and practice some extra woe-is-me self-care (treat-yourself-to-a-coffee out, face-mask-while-watching-the-Olympics kind of self-care).
But I can't stop there in the pity party. I have to keep going.
I have to get up and make the most of it. To count my blessings, not my struggles. I have to take responsibility for our role in this situation, as opposed to blaming anyone else. We need to ask hard questions. How did we get here? And what needs to happen to make it better?
We live in a world that often allows us to believe our circumstances are beyond our control. One that encourages us to act as if our lives are happening to us. One that encourages us to point fingers before we take responsibility. But something I've learned is that every single one of us always has choices.
We must be active participants. If we don't like it, we can change it. If we can't change it, it's important to remember that everyone, everywhere, goes through immensely hard times. And we always have options:
To get up daily
to get out of bed
to get on our knees
to make a new plan
to have the hard conversation
to walk away from the bad relationship
to trust our gut
to stop drinking
to ask for help
to trust that better times are coming
to change our attitudes
to go to therapy
to get a new job
to let go
to move on...
There may be some of you reading right now who are thinking: she doesn't know how hard my situation is. And you're exactly right. I don't know your situation. But I know this: every single day, people all around the world are dealt unbearably hard, impossibly unfair circumstances. The worst thing we can do is allow ourselves to believe our hand is worse than someone else's.
In my experience, giving in to the notion that our pain is harder than everyone else's weakens us, making us worse for the wear and creating bitterness in our hearts.
Also, comparative suffering gets us nowhere. There will always be someone who has it better than you and always someone who has it worse. Comparing yourself is destructive to both you and them - and, as always, the thief of the joy you have left.
I truly believe the absolute worst stance we can take in this world is one as a spectator to our own lives, watching them happen to us. Satan wants us to believe we are victims - powerless to our circumstances. But this is not Truth. Truth is that we are empowered by the Lord daily to make the most of what we have. Armed by His strength and wisdom. He has given us the skills to navigate the most difficult of times - by giving you grit, intelligence and hope in the future. And by walking alongside you.
For those of you who are in the thick of it right now, know this: even the darkest of days can be redeemed and made beautiful with time.