To quote Glennon Doyle Melton, “Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful I call it.” My life has most certainly been brutiful recently. Some days feel I feel more of the brutal. And some days I feel more of the beautiful. In 2015, I took my childhood home and built an addition large enough that my family could live in all while my parents could have one level living and stay in the home they have lived in for 42 years. We remodeled the existing house to create one level living for my parents. We extended the kitchen and dining room and created some larger living space for the whole family to get together. This home was built with the idea of creating a home that my parents could easily live in through out the rest of their lives. Instead of making difficult decisions after a fall or a parent’s death, I wanted to preemptively create a long term plan. Little did I know that two short years later, this decision would be so impactful. In March of this year, my mom was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This was the third cancer diagnosis in 9 years and the second diagnosis of lymphoma. After four rounds of chemotherapy, she made the difficult decision to undergo a stem cell transplant to increase the chance of long term survival. This process has been brutiful. It’s pushed us all to the brink of exhaustion and feeling like we just can’t continue any longer. There are so many brutal components to the transplant. And throughout this process there have been beautiful experiences that have reminded me in dark moments that my Higher Power is holding space for me throughout this whole experience. Life is indeed brutiful.
Last Sunday I woke up and realized that I needed a day “off”. My kids were going back to school the next day and I needed some time to get things ready. After a month long stay in the hospital, my mom was coming home and I needed some time to get ready for her arrival. And most importantly I needed some time to connect with myself, and to recharge on an internal level as well. I needed a break from the every day and a chance to reconnect to myself, my family, and my Higher Power. As I gave myself permission to have this day “off”, I started thinking of myself several years ago. Several years ago I was in a very different place. Taking a day “off” of any obligation wouldn’t have been an option for me. I felt a sense of obligation to do what I was “supposed” to do. I lived out of fear of what others would think. I lived in a state of feeling the need to earn love from others in my life and especially my Higher Power. It got me thinking of how important it has been for me to find a God of my own understanding. Trying to live a life with a God that other people had presented to me wasn’t working for me. I was working alright, just not in a way that felt nurturing or had any sense of self compassion.
I thought about a sign I have hanging in my dining room that says “Grace Changes Everything”. Grace has literally changed everything for me. It has changed me from doing something out of obligation to doing something because it feels right to me. I give myself grace when I’ve reacted in a way I don’t like. I give myself grace when I have every intention of calling a friend or finishing a task and it just doesn’t get done. I give myself grace when my internal dialogue goes back to negative self talk. I give myself grace when I stay home and have a day “off”. Giving myself grace is something I’ve learned in recovery. It has changed me from being angry and resentful to loved and supported in exactly where I am today. Giving myself grace doesn’t mean I don’t try again or that I’m justifying my behaviors. Giving myself grace doesn’t mean that I don’t circle back to make amends. Giving myself grace allows me to be ME. Today. Whatever that looks like. Grace is giving myself permission to be human. Giving myself grace means that I hold myself with compassion, wherever I am and accept myself exactly as that person. The crazy thing is that when I give myself grace to be whoever I am, I actually want to be a better person. I’m not fundamentally at war with myself.
Giving grace to myself has allowed me to give grace to others. When I don’t feel compelled to push myself so hard, I’m less judgmental of others around me. When I give myself grace and accept myself where I am today, I can extend that grace all around me. I can say to myself “It’s ok for you to do/be______. You are doing the best you can”. When I can really internalize that, I can extend that same grace to others. I can give others permission to be human as well.
My life is brutiful and so are other’s lives around me. I am not the only one living a brutiful life. Giving myself grace, in the brutiful moments of life, allows me to give grace to others in their brutiful moments of life. Giving grace in the brutiful moments, creates meaning and purpose. To finish Glennon Doyle Melton’s quote: “Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal and reject the beauty. So now I embrace both and I live well and hard and real.”