Soooo… I’m watching Soul Surfer today. That may not be of any particular importance to you, but it definitely says something about my mood.
And I’m in the mood to kick a little butt.
See, this past year has been insanely hard. It’s not a secret and you’re probably done with me saying it. I know that I’m done with me saying it. But our family is still slapped in the face every day with challenges that seem monumental in light of all that’s been going on over the last year and a half. So, I’m going to cut myself some slack in the whining department because the hard doesn’t go away simply because the dates have changed. It’s not a payment plan with 12 difficult monthly payments or 24 slightly less excruciating bi-weekly payments. It’s just hard… always.
That being said, I need to gush on us for a bit. Mainly my kids, but Dave and I too. Because we are still here. We are still doing life and moving through pain and grief and trials and trauma and literal poop on the walls (because I have 5 boys and some of them aren’t very hygienic) (Yuck).
Back in September and October, my little boys couldn’t even make it through a day of school or even get to school some days. I was constantly going to pick someone up. My oldest did most of grade 12 online because he was having debilitating panic attacks at the school building.
This week, we will close another successful year of school and celebrate Eli’s graduation. And our celebrations are not coming from a place of ease and comfort, but a place of falling down over and over, scraped and bruised and broken… and getting up again. A place where resilience reigns.
Fast forward 2 weeks… because that’s the time span between starting this and writing now… 2 insane weeks.
Because, while marking the end of a school year with hope and excitement, real life gets a voice too. And as I’d said, not 4 paragraphs previous, that real life is stupid hard. And so here I find myself, with a document sitting open and untitled for 2 weeks before I can even take a moment to breathe and carry on.
I’m still in a mood to kick butt. Although the memory of watching a movie and getting an adrenaline rush from “an inspiring story about overcoming the odds and working your ass off to get where you want to be all the while having a wonderful faith” seems to have waned somewhat. As happens in moments of great trial, I guess.
However, there is one line from the movie that has stuck with me over the last few weeks.
“You can’t always fix everything by sheer will”.
Huh?… I certainly do try. But if this past year has taught me anything, it is exactly this. There is no amount of will-power that will cure my cancer or cure K of his mental health struggles. I can’t run a marathon and simply cause trauma to disappear. If I could fix it by buckling down and just believing hard enough that it was all going to be better, it would be better already.
But it’s just not.
And yet, at the same time, we’re standing. We are resilient.
And we will continue to kick butt. We will continue to fight for life and for our family. And we will embrace our faith and our God and cling so tightly because when you have to use words like fight and kick butt and resilience and bruised and broken…. you know, that this is a raging, muddy battle and not a sweet walk in the park.
And we will continue to be grateful. Because our ability to be resilient comes from the hands holding us up. And while I wanted to gush on our family for our roles in moving forward and not giving up, I too want to gush on the so many who are reaching in and dragging us out of the mud. The so many whose arms are scratched and bruised from pulling on the ropes to save us.
My heart is heavy with the knowledge that we have “upset” lives. That our last minute phone calls of panic and exhaustion mean that others are giving up their freedom to help us. I grieve this reality daily. With every phone call or text asking for help, I grieve this.
But here’s the thing. As we work to kick butt, others are working to kick butt on our behalf and that’s just the way it is. In the same way that life is just hard, so too, life provides a community that won’t let us fall apart.
So what begins as grief ends with me on my knees in humble gratitude that we should be a family worthy of such community. A family worthy of being pulled out of the mud to kick butt another day.
Or to fall apart and not kick butt… because that’s ok too.
And that’s it, eh? There is a desire to kick butt and pull yourself out and talk yourself up and… fix everything by sheer will. That desire is strong.
And I am so proud of us for the days that we have stood tall and overcome some obstacle… like making it through a school year. But I am equally proud of the moments that involved us lying in the mud, too weary and broken to move, relying on others to dig us out.
Because I believe that humans spend a lot more time in the mud than we care to admit. And the mud sucks. It’s full of shame and grief and discomfort and… nothing pretty. But it’s there in the mud that the growth and the change happens so that when we’re pulled out, we are braver and gentler and kinder and way more grateful.
When we can kick butt in the mud, accepting it for the shit that it is, we can doubly kick butt on stable ground and give back a thousand times over.
PS.... Soul Surfer is not, in my opinion, a fantastic movie overall... the movie critic me doesn't score it above a 5... however, the motivational aspect is sometimes needed when one is feeling particularly low and in need of encouragement.