Life is hard and it sucks and I’m really happy about that

I have no idea where I got it into my head that life could be almost perfect. Maybe it was because of social media and advertising and the fake, perfect lives that I saw represented there.¬†Maybe it was because I grew up with a whole lot of stability and without any major challenges (but even then, life wasn’t perfect.)

I guess I thought that I would get that same stability when I grew up.¬†And then it didn’t happen. We have moved a whole lot, usually to places where I didn’t really want to be at first. While I’ve been able to be a stay-at-home mom and we have so many awesome things going for us, we’ve had a few other challenges that have been hard.

That’s everyone’s life, isn’t it? Usually there are things that are really big blessings, and then some things that just don’t turn out right.

But lately, I’ve really been trying to remove that expectation that life is going to be easy and stable and I’ll settle in sometime and never have any problems. Because that’s not how life works out. Even though we have seasons of happiness and blessings, we also all have seasons of difficulties. And sometimes both of those things come at you at once.

It’s such a happy thing to just accept the challenges of life instead of always trying to fight against them. Acceptance of how life really is feels like removing a heavy weight. Yes, my life doesn’t look like I thought it would be. Sometimes, there are moments that just suck. And since I’ve been trying to accept that, I’m feeling so much happier.

I’m not missing out on something. I’m not somehow messing things up just because I have difficulties. I don’t have to feel guilty if there are days that I want to cry. I don’t have to expect so much out of myself.

Life is hard for everyone. It’s the nature of life. It’s the nature of how we grow and learn. We all deal with disappointments and discouragement. We’re not alone. We’re not missing out on a perfect life–we have our own messy, chaotic lives, and so does everyone.

Isn’t it great?

Happily Ever After

And they lived happily ever after . . .

It’s the ending to children’s stories, and it’s of course entirely untrue. They don’t live happily ever after, because they will eventually die. That’s life.

Coming-of-age stories end with the main character supposedly finding out who they are and starting on the direction they will continue for the rest of their lives.

Except for when they grow up, they are often met with radical life changes and difficult trials.

I had a really happy childhood. For the most part, I knew who I was and what I wanted in life. I had a home that felt comforting and inviting and a family who loved me. It was a happily ever after.

Then I grew up. Life can be really difficult as an adult. It’s wonderful, but there are uncertainties and trials and difficult realities.

So happily ever after belongs to children’s stories, to the thought that you can dream and your dreams can come true. To the idea that you can have life all figured out and be the person you want to be. It belongs to the one time in life when someone takes care of you, you truly feel at home, and you never have to be alone.

I know not everyone has a happy childhood, so it’s not universally applicable. Some people never really get their happily ever after. But happily ever after is never the destination anyway. The whole picture of life is bigger and scarier, but also much more beautiful.

Life is not a roller coaster

I have often thought that life was like a roller coaster, with lots of ups and downs.

And then I realized one day that life isn’t a roller coaster at all. I’m not simply heading up or down–it’s way more complex than that. It’s a journey, taking lots of different paths.

When it snows, the snow gets deposited in the mountains for months. Then it melts, and runs down in so many different ways until finally, it arrives at its destination. The water has lots of different destinations: The water can become part of a beautiful lake. It can run into a reservoir and then be used to irrigate crops and flowers. It can sink down into the water table and come up again in a well for plumbing and drinking. And you know what? In each of those instances, the water doesn’t do any good on top of the mountain. It has to flow into the valley before it’s worth anything.

If the rain is really focused on ups and downs, it will completely neglect to realize why it is there.

We go through so many different journeys throughout our lives. I read the other day that you don’t figure out how to write a novel–you just figure out the specific novel you are writing. And life is like that–you don’t figure out how to live. You just figure out what you need to do right now with your own specific circumstances.

So while we want to be happy, happiness is not found at the top of the roller coaster of life. It can be found in the deep valleys and even with the weight of the world pressing down. We are happy not when life is easy; we are happy when we find our purpose and we are doing our best to live it.