“Chill out.”

I have a t-shirt with the phrase written across the front in simple white letters. Not as a standoffish reminder to others, but as a reminder to focus on a calm mindset throughout my day-to-day life.

I find myself constantly returning to and struggling with the topic of control - control over life plans, control over emotions, and even control over how others feel. It can be so incredibly frustrating to see unintended things unfolding in your life and even more so in the lives of those you love.

The phrase “everything happens for a reason” often gets thrown into these situations. Whether its a cancer diagnosis, depression, breakups, loss, unemployment, or addiction, we want to help by offering advice. More than anything, we want to help people we love to see the intention present in whatever circumstance they may be facing. While positivity is greatly important, I have been learning more and more how much my friends and family just need me to meet them where theyre at. They are not looking for magic advice (as much as I wish I had it)…they need someone to be an understanding presence.

I have been in the pits of those dark and seemingly endless situations; being told it needed to happen felt like invalidation. I did not want to hear that a far-off reason existed for all of the questions I was facing in the moment. I just wanted to hear that my pain mattered here and now.

We will continuously find ourselves on both sides of the situation. The perspective changes once you are the one on the outside of pain, watching it affect someone you care about. Your role shifts. You are there to meet them in their pain, to listen, and to remind them of light without forcing them into it.

photo by Ahmadreza Sajadi

photo by Ahmadreza Sajadi

“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
1 John 1:5

In HIM. Not in us.

I don't know if you have already been told this, but I'll tell you again:
You do not have to be light all the time. You are not expected to be. While you are capable of many things (which I admire you all endlessly for), never burning out is not one of them. Even the most joyful of people come face-to-face with pain. We all have different ways of adjusting to the light and its completely okay. Some of us only wake up when the curtains are thrown open and light pours in, practically blinding us. Others prefer a slower, more fluid process warming up to the light.

Regardless of preference, I think we are only able to start the process of adjusting to light once we have become truly present in our darkness. Its a part of human life thats more easily brushed over but so essential to our experience. When we can recognize suffering, ask God our honest questions, and live in it, we become more aware of our role. But ultimately, we get to a point where only we can choose light for ourselves. It is a conscious decision.

No matter where you are - darkness, light, pain, joy, or even a mix of everything - please remind yourself (or someone else) to breathe, chill out, and allow the process to happen.

Its okay.

-Molly Grunik // @molly.grunik

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