It’s easy to say “have faith.” It’s much tougher to live it when things aren’t going your way. When you’re in the middle of a loss or facing a deeply entrenched wound. When shame rears up and roars like a raging lion from the depths of which you do not know.
Faith seems a lifetime away.
You see it there, hovering in the stillness of air just beyond your fingertips, and yet beyond reach. You know it, and yet you cannot grab hold. Lost in a tangled web of miles and miles of life, the tapes just keep playing.
Who you are, what you believed when you were too young to understand, and the agreements you made about who and what you deserve.
Sometimes the furthest thing from grasp is faith.
Lost in the crashing waves of emotion, fear is the first to find it’s footing.
Doubt and despair aren’t far behind and they’re liars, all of them.
It’s why we were made for community. Because in our moments of greatest fear and doubt, there are moments we are lost to faith. We cannot see, cannot find, cannot grab hold of what we know is right before our eyes. The darkness comes in from all sides and in that moment nothing is worth the pain. We know it isn’t true and yet it lures us to its comfort.
It’s why the community we surround ourselves with is so important. Our friends remind us to choose hope in the darkness until the waves stop crashing and we get our feet underneath us again. They help us find our strength when we can’t find it on our own.
To me, nothing better explains the gift of true intimate friendship than the words of Pema Chodron.
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
No one escapes this life without suffering. We don’t need someone to sit with us in sympathy or the weight of judgment. Not to feel bad for us when we’re in darkness and wish they could turn on the light. Nothing makes me feel worse than pity. What we need is a friend who knows her own darkness well enough that she is comfortable sitting in the dark with us in ours.
Because we are more than our darkness. In fact, we need it. To me, nothing shows more strength than a woman who can stand her ground in the middle of the mess in her life and say here I am. The messy, the beautiful, the joy and the sorrow. They go hand-in-hand. Where you find one you will find the other. And our dark makes us that much more full of light because we know how much we need it. How rare and beautiful and real it is.
And all of these things – friendship, compassion, light and dark – it allows us to choose hope. Choosing it when we don’t see it, feel it, know it or even believe in it. We choose hope because we must. Because hope is all we can hold when we can’t find faith.
If you’re in the dark and can’t find your faith – REACH OUT. It’s counter-intuitive and the absolute last thing we want to do because we’re messy and raw and honestly not fit for consumption. But you must. Find one – one person – who can sit in your dark with you until the waves stop crashing and you can reach for the faith that is right there, waiting for you to grab hold.
Faith is the belief in what we cannot see. The outstretched hand of my Father, waiting for me.
If someone you love is in the dark and you don’t know how to help – just SEE THEM. Empathy is not sympathy. Empathy says: “me too” not: “I feel bad for you.”
We all have darkness, we all have pain, we have all suffered loss. True friendship lets us go to the places we need to go so we can do the work that needs to be done, but it doesn’t let us live there. This life is about being brave and we’re stronger together. And our darkness, our pain, grief, sorrow and loss…it is what makes us real. It is what carves in us the ability to love and to give. The very beating breath that makes us different from those who mock and judge and live with a critical spirit. How much better it is to know our darkness, and feel our darkness, knowing it is the very thing that will lead us to light.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3-10