Last week, as we woke up to dolphins playing in the water in front of the house, one of the kids pointed out a rainbow that had popped up over the rocks. Not a bad way to enjoy my morning coffee. I had one of those “well, this doesn’t suck” moments.” It was particularly significant because just a few short years ago, life didn’t look like this.
I remembered back to some of the more difficult moments we have faced, particularly in our marriage. My son was one, I was pregnant and on bed rest with our second, and I hadn’t seen my husband in days. Those were the days and moments where our struggle began and over the course of the next 4 years, it would get a lot worse before it would get better.
There were so many times when I wondered if better days would ever find their way to us, if we would overcome the hardship, if we would find ourselves out of the darkness and back to the light. And during the thick of the struggle, it was hard to imagine that life could look the way it does today. In fact, there were a lot of moments where giving up on my marriage would have been the easier, less painful option.
But we didn’t give up. And that was really what that moment – sitting on the deck sipping coffee, complete with rainbows and dolphins – meant to me. The reward.
We had come through some of the most difficult things we could as a couple, and not even when things started to look up and our lives took a turn for the better, could we have imagined that life would look like this – living in Australia, the kids are thriving, everyone is healthy, business is good.
Struggle is one of the inevitable realities of life. Whether it is the death of a loved one, your health, the end of a career, struggles in your marriage, finances, parenting, etc. there will always be something. It is a part of life. And while it is difficult, it is important to remember that it is also temporary.
We were living in Nashville at the time. I received a call from a girlfriend of mine. She had relocated to the city to be with her boyfriend. She thought they would get married so when things didn’t work out and they broke up instead, she was crushed. I picked her up from her apartment, she hadn’t showered or slept in days. She came and stayed in our guest room. It was a dark time for her but in those moments, we had so many meaningful conversations about life and the reality that sometimes it is hard.
I knew she would get through it, but in that moment, it was hard for her to see that.
She moved home a week later. It took time, but eventually she healed. She went on to open her own business and met an incredible person who is now her husband. The situation from several years before is a blurb on the radar screen.
It is easy to see the light when everything in life is going right, but what about when things aren’t? How many of us find that we are unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel during times of struggle?
At the height of our struggle, there were times when I couldn’t even think beyond the moment. And while it is easy to sit back and be thankful for where we are now, it seems more important to remember where we came from and those tough moments. From them, something beautiful began to grow.
As we were struggling, a friend of mine was in the process of building their first home. Something that was important to them was to write the favorite verses or inspirational quotes from friends and loved ones on the beams as the house was going up. It was symbolic of building their home on the foundation of love, friendship, and strength. I sent the following:
I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born. Isaiah 66:9
Struggle is a part of life. It’s important to remember not to give up, but it is equally as important not to live in the wreckage of the next struggle, operating from a place of fear and wondering when the other shoe will drop. When you accept struggle and allow yourself to learn from it, that is when something new, something beautiful can begin to take shape.
This verse was my constant reminder, my saving grace.
Our struggle was painful. Friends who walked through that season with us know just how difficult it was. It often felt like there wasn’t an end in sight. It wasn’t easy, but we made it through. It wasn’t the first struggle I had ever faced, and I am certain it also won’t be the last.
I can’t say if or when tough times will happen or when they will end, but I can guarantee there will always be struggle – the peaks and valleys of life. And I swear to you with every ounce of humanity I have – if you don’t give up, life will work out exactly as it is supposed to. It may not look like what you thought it should, and that’s okay. Most of the time, it looks better.
My husband and I talk a lot about those tough moments now. When we were in the thick of things, not knowing how we were going to get through. But at the same time – underneath all the shit – we knew we didn’t want to give up.
We look back now with an openness and honesty that we would never have found in our marriage had it not been for the tough times. There is a lot of beauty in the vulnerability and we realize it’s okay to enjoy this moment – the new view and our new life – because you never know when it will be time to jump back into another valley.
Enjoy the peaks while you are standing on top of the world, but know that even if you are in a valley, you will rise up and you will stand at the peak again. Keep your head high, your heart aligned, and eventually, you will get there.
Cheers to a new week and never giving up!