I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like there is almost as much pressure at the start of a new year as there is during the holiday season. Pressure to have a plan. To know exactly where you are going. To have all the answers lined up.
But what if that just isn’t where you find yourself this year? What about the times when the path has so many twists and turns it seems it will never be easy or clear again?
In her book When the Heart Waits, Sue Monk Kidd said, “We think life should be a nice, clean ascending line. But inevitably something wanders onto the scene and creates havoc with the nice way we’ve arranged life to fall in place.” I would bet that most of us have had those experiences.
For a long time, they were my worst nightmare. When there was too much uncertainty, I felt unmoored and like I was drifting helplessly toward some disaster. When something didn’t go according to my plan, I felt like I would never get back on track. The frustration and fear was overwhelming. Even worse though, was the choke hold I put on my life to try to keep myself from ending up in one of these messy places. Holding on to every little detail that tightly robbed me of joy. If I’m being truly honest, it left me hardened and not just a little inflexible.
But, as Tony Bennett has said, life teaches you how to live it. Through a series of unavoidable and unplanned situations, I learned that the mess in inescapable.
Times when I feel lost or uncertain. Times when I make a mistake and can’t see how I will ever make it right again. Times when sadness and grief seem smothering.
But, there is beauty in those times too. The beauty of a perfectly timed smile from a stranger. The beauty of a hug from a friend. And the beauty of the lessons and wisdom those times etch in our souls.
So, if you find yourself in one of the dark times right now, take heart. There is an end, even if it is not in sight. You will be able to plan and create and achieve again. But, for now, take a breath. Hold on. And see if you can’t find the beauty in the dark.