Monday, April 28, 2014

Lessons I sometimes forget...

By: Guest blogger, Brandy Pruitt

A good friend once wrote me a note during a difficult time in my life that read, “Good people deserve to be happy, and you are good people.”  I received it sometime during 2005 (I believe) and I still have it tucked away in a box of special memories.  I go to this box on occasion and pull things out, reading over them and remembering; evoking feelings and tears that I am typically too busy for.    

I understand that life is full of both good and bad.  I am fully aware of the ‘God will not lead you to it without leading you through it’ phrase that should make me feel better.  I accept with my whole heart that yes, it CAN always be worse.  I know these things.  Every Debbie Downer and Negative Nancy I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet knows these things.  And yet, I still feel an obligation to say that an often cheery disposition can not disguise the ugly truth that life is a struggle.

There are days when my struggles are too much.  I’m simply too stressed, too anxious, or too emotional to continue with my daily life.  My chest feels heavy…my eyes burn and blink back tears; tears that are sometimes full of anger or disappointment, sadness or loneliness.  Sometimes, they are just signs of pure exhaustion and defeat: the only white flag I have the energy to wave.  Some days I allow my struggles to define me and they win.  

But there are other days that I win.  There are days that I allow my life, both the good and the bad combined, to define me.  I may feel stressed, sad, or defeated but I somehow overcome it.  I may still feel that heaviness in my chest but I choose to fight it.  On these days, I end up sitting on the attic steps of my home and reminiscing.  Sure, there are usually still tears; but they are the happy and therapeutic kind.

My special box lives on my attic steps, along with a lot of other not-so-special junk that has no where better to be.  Oddly enough, the entire time that I have lived in my home I have found solace in the attic.  Maybe it’s because it is the only part of the house that was built in 1956 that seems to remain unchanged.  Or maybe because it’s the only part of the house that my obsessive cleaning habits know they aren’t welcome.  Maybe it’s because all the keepsakes from my children’s lives are stored there or because you can hear everything going on in the entire house from those steps.  Whatever the reason, I enjoy it. I go to my favorite spot on the third-from-the-top step and just sit.  I sit and pilfer through notes that make me laugh, and cards that force me to realize I have people who care about me.  I read letters from my high school boyfriend and look at pictures my children have drawn.  These things may all fit into a box (although “fit” may be the wrong word when you see my box) but they are so much bigger than that box that encompasses them.  

Lessons I learn (over and over again) sitting in my attic:
-   Friendships can span years, miles, and even differences of opinion.  How corny is it that I am reminded of a song I used to sing in Girl Scouts? “Make new friends, but keep the old…one is silver and the other’s gold.”  But seriously, they are.
-   If you want to know something, ask.  But be prepared to hear the answer.  Know what you will do with it, even before you ask for it.  Make your decision and ‘own it’…hard as it might be.    
-   Family is forever.  They will love you and forgive you quicker than anyone.  But they can also hurt you quicker also.  And despite your best efforts, sometimes you will do the same to them. 
-   Write notes and send cards to people.  I honestly think taking the time to tell someone via ‘snail mail’ that you care about them is a special thing.  When my  ex-husband passed away, I received a hand written card from a stranger referencing a bible verse she thought might help ease my pain.  She lived in Richmond, KY and heard his obituary on the radio.  A little weird? Maybe.  More important than cards I received from close friends and neighbors? No.  But it made me smile at the time.  And this stranger has a spot in my special box because of it.   
-   Joys weigh more than sorrows.  Now that is a hard lesson to remember.  It’s easier sometimes to believe the opposite.  It’s almost effortless to just wallow in sadness and bask in the pity of others.  But don’t; it will be worth it, I promise.  Learn to refuse pity.  Either from yourself or others. 
-   Your life may be full of the very thing someone else fervently prays for; appreciate it.  I have been reminded so often of this.  Especially when I look around my attic: it is full of things my children have accumulated over the years.  They make me happy.  Also drive me crazy sometimes, but it’s a happy crazy. J It is hard to not sound cliché about one’s love for their children, but they are my soul mates. 
-   Forgive people. Even when they don’t ask, forgive them.  And also, yourself…forgive yourself. 

Every once in a while, there are some surprising truths and wonderful things that spring up exactly where you need them; exactly where you’d put them if life were a script you could write.  And for a fleeting moment…the world (or at least the tiny little part of the world you can call your own) is good.  Savor those moments.  Hold tight to those memories and visit them often.  Stuff them in a box if you must.    

Good people deserve to be happy, and you are good people.

My box runneth over. How lucky am I?
I was serious about that no cleaning up here rule. 
I have started a new box.:)

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