I feel like there were some things I neglected to say in my last post-- probably because I wrote it over the span of several days, and because most of it was written with at least one child climbing all over me while I typed one-handed.
And I guess I could just go back and edit it, but it's a long enough post as it is. And honestly... after working on writing it for nearly a week, I was sick of looking at it. :-P
But I do want to address some of the things I left out, because I think they're important. I think the overall point was mostly clear-- that life experiences build a person's endurance, and those who have "been there" and have come out on the other side need to encourage those who are struggling currently. But I'm afraid I might have given off a subtle implication that those who have been through things that have built their endurance are now doing great and can handle whatever life throws their way. I never came out and stated that (because I don't believe that at all!) but I fear it could have been read that way because I didn't say a whole lot about current challenges.
It's not easy.
I definitely don't want to be one of those people who gives the impression that I can do it all, or that it's easy. In my last post, I gave a brief overview of some of the things that are currently going on in my life, and I mentioned that it's hard work and that I struggle.
But what I didn't tell you is how much I struggle. It's a lot more than I'd like to admit, and a lot more than people seem to think. I am definitely not some kind of superwoman. Come over at midnight and see me nodding off over schoolwork with dinner dishes that still need to be washed, or see the schoolwork pile up as I take care of a child who has his third stomach virus this season, or watch me try to keep up with a very active one-year old in a waiting room for three hours while his brother is in therapy appointments, or be there for one of the times I lock myself in the bathroom and cry because I feel like it's all too much.
What I do is so rewarding-- but it is also hard. Where I am in life right now is not easy. Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning. Sometimes I want to quit.
This is where my realization about life experiences and endurance comes in. Because I have been through difficult things in the past, I know from experience that it might be hard but I can get through it. And I know that those difficult times have increased my strength and endurance, which makes my current situation difficult but not crushing. What's more, I know that I will get through this too, and my strength and endurance will continue to be built up, which will then help me through the next difficult time.
So let's get back to my larger point here:
I think a lot of times when people are struggling, they have a hard time admitting it because they think they "shouldn't" be having a hard time. I've been there... telling myself I must be a wimp or a baby for struggling when I can see for myself that other people are able to handle so much more. I had that thought a LOT after my second child was born and I was going through postpartum depression. "I shouldn't be having such a hard time. Look at all these moms with three or four kids, or more, and they're able to handle it better than I can handle having two. Maybe I'm just not cut out to be a mother."
No. No, no, no. What I was going through was legitimately difficult in relation to my own journey at that point. I think people who are struggling need to hear that validation from others: Yes, what you are going through is really, really hard. But they also need encouragement: You can do it. You are doing it!
Our past struggles and experiences have equipped us for the future. We have grown stronger, and even when we feel broken and desperate, we are growing stronger simply by continuing to move forward. Even when we can't see our growth because we're blinded by the pain and difficulty.
Your struggles are not a punishment from God, or proof of your inadequacy as a person. But neither are they without any meaning whatsoever. They are shaping you, strengthening you, increasing your endurance... and not only will that equip you for your future, it will also give you the ability to empathize with and encourage others who are hurting.
There is always the potential for hope and growth. You are strong and becoming stronger.