This is a piece written for HuffPost back in 2016-- it definitely still applies today in 2021!! By Melissa Dayton, Contributor Founder You Can NOT Be Replaced, Wife to Chip, Mother of 8, Speaker, Author, Artist, Parenting Sage. 12/31/2016 06:19pm EST This post was published on the HuffPost Contributor platform.
I have a dear friend that knows my heart. We were young moms together years ago and have lived through teenagers, the suicide cluster, hurricane recovery, spouses and their need for work, aging parents, young adult children with growing pains... You name it- even without the time we used to spend together and not chatting for weeks, she’s the one I text for prayer and I am often still hers. Longevity in friendship has its comfort. Often, over this last year she would text me and say ‘life is Brut-iful’. She is right.
Life- all its joys, all its mountains and all its sorrows in a moshed up tangled mess can be brutal. Like the back of a tapestry that doesn’t make sense until you turn it around, the complexities and disappointments teach us lessons and gives moments that can be deeply meaningful. There is no separating one from the other and often those beautiful moments are in the thick of the pain.
There is no escape.
Sometimes God says NO:
I keep reading over and over that 2016 was the worst year ever. For us, I confidently can say it was. Not because of politics or death of celebrities. Not because of a tragedy that left us without a child or family member. But because our answer from God in the midst of our journey was NO. Again. A big NO. Five years of ‘NO’— Not just something we wanted, but something we hoped for, worked for that gave our family its roots.
Unanswered prayer, unrewarded efforts, idea tank empty, help rejected and breaking our kids hearts. It feels like giant face plant and no one is yelling ‘safe’! Do you remember wiping out on the sidewalk when you were little and scraping your palms? Yeah. Five years of ‘you just can’t make this stuff up’ came to its end. Ick. That has been our year.
If your life has left you ending this year feeling the same way, stick with me.
Our family had to move forward without an answer a couple months ago. That’s hard- even frightening. Talk about the ultimate test of faith? We couldn't continue to force something that was no longer for us, which pulled up our roots in sadness. It is in those moments though- beauty blooms. Part of me hates that. I even hate writing it—but it is truth.
Someone who has climbed their own mountain would understand the void in your heart when what you have worked for, hoped for and prayed for doesn't happen. I also know if you have been crushed by defeat and sadness in life, you know that beauty I mentioned. Whether a moment, a person or a line of a book you read that seared your heart—what ever it was, the beauty was there. When God says NO, I think he sits and waits for us to learn this lesson. I almost think he keeps saying NO until we do- he wants to move us, shape us and change our direction. Sometimes in a path we don’t want. That pain is brutal, that gift is gold, we are refined by fire. But his gifts are quiet, unexpected and often not newsworthy. This life is brut-iful.
It is in those moments of unspeakable pain that we experience life’s beautiful moments. We learn that someone reaching out to us to help, is not because we are broken but because we are loved. Melissa Dayton
So very loved. It may be hard to accept that love when you are in a pit, especially if you are not used to being ‘on the other side’ of the help. But humbly do so, please. The lesson to learn in the depths, comes packaged in those moments. When you are at your lowest and a hand reaches out to you with genuine authentic kindness, that is when you experience what the human journey is all about. If you recognize it and are grateful, you pivot your perception for the rest of your life. How you treat others is forever changed. You have learned that the great things in life are often done in silence without fanfare, from one heart to another. That is the beauty in the brutal. If your year left you abandoned, rejected and desperately defeated— don’t push it away. Pause and look for that beauty.
Don’t lose the message in the mess:
God gives us pauses. Right now, our family is in a pause. We are in the ‘in-between’ space. Life continues and is moving-but the pause is palpable. That space between the closing of a door and the new direction. Pausing is a gift. Honestly we need it. We are in a loving safe place of quiet, to rest, reflect and hope. The rest for our souls is allowing us to heal. The reflection that is happening while we walk, talk and pray through this space is allowing for us to be grateful for the life we had and the hopeful for what is to come. Hope is primal to our human souls and is what keeps us alive. Without this time of pause to hold onto, our hands may slip. All types of grief need to be healed, if you are a parent, know how important it is to your children that you take the time to heal well. One step at a time.
If you are in a pause, 2017 may not be a fresh start January 1.
There are a lot of slick backed hair entrepreneurs out there shouting ‘if you envision and work hard, it it will happen’ -- maybe, maybe not. The same struggle will still be there New Years Day and that’s OK. There is no magic wand that transforms our lives when that ball drops in Times Square. But- we can hope in each day. Each day is a fresh start- a gift with an opportunity. The chance to live that new day as the precious moment in time and to do so to the best of our ability, even if our efforts are small. The day will never be repeated. Whether you are limited by grief, abandonment, pain or exhaustion— what ever it may be, each day leaves you the choice to live the gift and live it well.
You know that moment before our eyes open? That moment between sleep and awake (yes, I’m quoting Tinkerbell) I’m talking about that moment when you are not quite awake and don’t remember the pain. That is a golden moment. A time for a morning offering. It is the chance to offer the day to God and what lies before us. Remembering to do so, changes your entire outlook- it makes it possible to accept the gift, that hard to accept gift of hope-that you are very loved. The beauty in the mess. It is in that moment each morning you are invited to love and trust in something bigger than what you can see. That is hope.
The pain may still slap you in the face, but those few seconds of hope are worth clinging to. In that space, we can recognize our plan may not have been the better one. Or that our journey has a path before us we can not even fathom. Our pain, once healed, could be the channel that heals someone else. There could be something different, better, more beautiful... At the end of each day, we can write and reflect on what was good, however small. We hold onto that rope, and we wait. Work hard, envision good, be ready for an unexpected direction and blessing that the universe holds before you. But, you will be OK if it doesn't happen right away.
Please don’t kiss 2016 good riddance. Erasing last year, wont guarantee this year will be easier or better. In fact, this year may be just as hard, but I promise- 2017 will have its share of lesson and gift in it if you are looking for them in the mess. Even if there is a situation you are living through which is out of your control, remember how you see each new day, each precious gift that will never be repeated, will take you on a deeper journey and is in your control.
Sometimes God says NO. Sometimes our path is not what we wanted or hoped for. What we work for might not happen the way we asked. But there is still good life, there is still beauty in hard times.
Life is brut-iful.
Speaking information www.chipandmelissadayton.com