Some days I look at the world—or I look at MYSELF—and I think: What the heck? We have been here before. We’ve ALREADY BEEN HERE. Why are we doing this again? Why are we going BACKWARD?
Because I want to think we’ll always move in one direction: forward, toward more health, more wholeness, more love. But that isn’t how it works, and we all know it.
If you’ve ever met a small child, you know that one day they’ll share their toys, and the next day they have to be reminded not to use their teeth. Growth is a frustratingly back-and-forth process.
Growth is a frustratingly back-and-forth process.
If I forget that, my own body reminds me—most of the time I am moving toward light, and then sometimes depression takes me out or anxiety knocks me down and I am pitched into the dark. I have to move between both.
I think we all do, in our own ways.
But even when we’re in the dark—even when everything seems to have turned to dust and rubble, even when we are alone and broken-down, even when there seems to be no next step—even then, the light is always winning.
The light is always winning.
This is something I am willing to take on faith, when evidence seems to suggest otherwise. I am willing to believe that, as Anne Lamott says, grace bats last. I am even willing to accept that grace and healing do not always look how I expect them to look. (I guess that’s okay, because sometimes I have no idea how healing and grace SHOULD look.)
But even on days when I’m not sure I believe it, even when we seem to be going backward, I still know the light is winning—because I see how we respond. We do not look around at the pain and the disconnection and the anger in the world and say, Well, this is great, let’s make more of this. Let’s just stay right here. We don’t.
We say, What the heck? We have been here before. We’ve ALREADY BEEN HERE. Why are we doing this again? Why are we going BACKWARD?
The darkness only wins if we settle into it. But we don’t.
We notice. We object. We listen. Maybe we cry. Maybe we offer up thoughts and prayers, if there isn’t any other thing to do.
We’re moving forward, but in a zig-zagging, circle-around-and-try-again sort of way.
So I’m not surprised anymore.
Now when it seems like we’re going backward I remember that we’ve been here before—SO WE KNOW WHAT TO DO. We know how to get out of this place. We’ve been here before, and we know the way.
You know the way. The way is love. The way is always love. Love for your neighbors, love for your children, love for your community. Love for the people you don’t agree with. Love for the people you don’t understand. Love for you. (Some of these categories will overlap.)
Sometimes love looks like being there when you don’t know what to say. Sometimes love looks like making changes. Sometimes love looks like listening to someone you don’t agree with. Sometimes love looks like civility. It all matters.
It’s all love.
If you hear calls to fear: that’s not the way forward. That’s how we get tripped up and end up back where we’ve already been. Fear is never the way. Fear is a signpost. Fear is giving you information. You need to listen to your own fears, but you can’t live in them. Fear doesn’t give good life directions.
The way forward is to show up and to chase hard after love. The path may not be smooth, it may circle back and drive us crazy, but the way forward starts with us, and it always, always starts with love.
I first wrote about this on Instagram. I don’t usually cross-post, but I was reminded of this today and wanted to share it with you here, where the words could have a little more room to breathe.