We don't have many things guaranteed to us in this life, unless we want to count some trouble, some taxes, and death. (Woah, that sounds totally discouraging. Don't take it like a downer, I'm just throwing out the reality. Chin up.) Many western thinkers feel that most of life ought to be sunshine and roses (and oh, how I wish it were, wouldn't that be lovely?) with some crap sprinkled in. I am not sure if the rest of the world thinks that. It seems to me that if you lived with the expectation that life mostly sucks and is mostly a great deal of work with a little play and small trinkets of happiness, you could rejoice in the little joys (not to mention the big ones!) a lot more deeply.
You're probably thinking that sounds really pessimistic, but actually, I am an incorrigible optimist. I think embracing the fact that most of life might not go the way you want it to allows you to be really happy and appreciative when sunshine pokes through. Those who figure life better be a herd of happy unicorns dancing on sparkly rainbows are going to get their feelings squashed daily - when someone takes "their" parking spot at Trader Joe's (or at the gym, WHAT THE HECK), when the neighbor's dog takes a dump on their lawn, or when their favorite tea cup breaks (#firstworldproblems).
But sometimes it just really sucks. These last two weeks have brought many troubles - people dying too soon, a friend going through a divorce, and an old friend being diagnosed with cancer. When you have to stand in the middle of that and your world is shutting down and the walls are falling in, you feel the overwhelming sense of being crushed, and the mourning floods in on you. It presses on your chest, it takes your breath away. When it hits you, it is gut wrenching, and the sobbing comes from so deep down in your stomach that your brain doesn't think in words anymore, it just rips through feelings, slices your insides and tosses your organs on the table. You can't imagine doing anything except for curling up wherever you may find yourself (the couch, the bed, the floor, the grass, the glass-shard covered cement), submitting under the weight of the pain, and not getting up (also, someone please, toss a blanket over to cover up my head, no pillow, these shards will do nicely, thankyouverymuch).
Strong people have gone through some stuff. They've wrestled this beast before. You won't be strong if you let it win, though.
You get to have that time. You get to eat cake for dinner or skip eating entirely. You get to lay sideways and wish that you could dissolve into the carpet. When you have gone through a jarring experience, a wild perspective and life change, I suggest that you take that horrible ride. But that ride has an end. You can't spend the rest of your life on that ride. Yeah, it seems like it won't ever end, and you'll never get off. That comes with the territory. It's inherent to swan diving out of your expected reality. And for a long time out (maybe even ~58.5 years, +/- 10-40), you'll have times when you get hit in the head and the heart and you'll feel yourself falling down again. It's not weak. It's a fight. The weak give up when they're pushed over. Stand up again and fight.
But how? What does that look like?
I can't answer that for everyone. I can only tell you what is helpful to me. If it helps you, I am glad for it.
If you've made it off of the floor, get yourself up. Go exhaust yourself. Demand extreme physical fatigue of yourself until you have no strength left. Push your body as hard and as far as it will go until it silences your insides. Sobbing is optional. Praying is recommended.
When your body is debilitated, burn through your brain. Challenge yourself so hard that you can't think straight. Read crazy stuff, take a class (in a secondary language on a subject you're weak in), write, study, paint, create, bake, work.
And now, when the river floods you, pull out the good. Bring up the sunshine. When your brother or child dies, remember their life. Remember their smile. Be thankful for the time you were together. Their memory won't ever go away, and in that they are still with you. When you walk through a divorce, be thankful that you got to experience a relationship, a marriage. Remember the good and the sweet from those wonderful times, and be thankful that you shared a life with someone and walked through things together, even though it didn't turn out the way you thought or hoped it would. Pack them up in a box and tuck them in your soul. When you stand there and hear that you have cancer, take a deep breath and love on all of the people in your life and be thankful that everything around you has become exponentially more precious.
It sounds disgustingly cliche, but things happen for a reason. This life is orchestrated. There is hope. It's not how you wanted it, but that's not to say life will always be a crapper. Let it mold you into a person who can be more compassionate because you have walked through the fire. Let it fuel you to show more love to everyone around you. Don't waste your pain.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
Peace, love, and a crazy gigantic super long squitchy hug,