The hardest day
This is my favorite day of the year for all the hard reasons.
A few years ago, I was sitting in the living room of my childhood home surrounded by my pastor and my family. We were saying goodbye to my childhood home, and not in a clean and tidy way, but in a hard, messy, freeing and truthful way.
If you’ve ever gone through a home that carries with it the essence of your childhood, you know that it’s not about the stuff — it’s about what that stuff means to you. It’s about how that stuff defined you, made you AND built you. Toys that you played with for hours, the cake pan that your mom made her famous bars in, the dishes that you played with outside on sunny days, the old trophies and ribbons from childhood victories, the basketball hoop that bore witness to countless hours of practice and the boxes of photos that seemingly told your entire life’s story.
So, the messiness. You see, the next chapter of my parents’ lives would not be one they would continue together. This house, the one that had held us through so many firsts, memories and laughter, had now become a tender burden. It was something to lovingly let go of so that my parents — and my siblings and I — could feel the lightness of a new chapter.
Our last opportunity as a family to clean things out happened to be Easter weekend. I still remember the heartbreaking pain of watching my parents make ‘yours or mine’ decisions, and I can still hear the laughter of all of us as we’d find forgotten-about childhood treasures.
My sister Theresa called Pastor Steve to sit with us. He was busy preparing the church for Easter Sunday and yet, he knew we needed him. Amidst tears and grief, he helped us see beyond our pain and into our healing, even just the dimly lit, hard-to-reach idea of it.
Ironic that Easter was upon him and us.
“There is so much focus on the death and the resurrection,” he said. “We honor Good Friday and celebrate Easter Sunday, and there is so much to learn there. But the magic? The good stuff? Oh, that happens on Saturday.”
Saturday was the true test of our faith, he said.
“Saturday represents our ability to endure, even amidst so much pain, heartbreak, and despair.”
Saturday is the mess.
Saturday is hurt.
Saturday is brokenness.
Saturday is pain and anger.
Saturday is the temptation to quit and walk away.
Saturday is waiting out the storms.
Looking back, 2016 was one of the hardest Saturdays of my life.
And yet, even though it wasn’t a storm I asked for, I’m now able to see many of the silver linings it gave me. I learned a lot about grace, patience and kindness. I learned that home is about the people you love, not the walls around you. I learned that everyone really is doing the best they can. I learned that sometimes silence is the best way to heal, and I learned that no one needs to know your story until you’re ready to share it.
Maybe more than anything I learned that it’s completely normal to feel joy and sadness at the same time. I realized it’s normal to celebrate and grieve simultaneously. I can do both. We can do both.
Which brings me to today, and the two messages I want to share with you.
First, our humanity is experiencing a collective Saturday.
We are in a storm like none we’ve ever experienced. We are hunkered down. We are weary and waiting.
So right now, just find an anchor. Something to steady you and keep you grounded. Something you can be certain of and something you can keep coming back to. Let this be the thing that helps you weather this Saturday. Maybe it’s your steadfast belief in humanity or medicine. Maybe it’s hope. Maybe it’s love. Maybe it’s connection with others. Just keep holding on to it long enough to endure this storm.
If you’re wondering how to find your footing right now, I highly recommend my friend Jonathan Field’s podcast on certainty anchors. (It’s 12 minutes and it’s really, really good.)
And second, it’s okay to grieve and celebrate at the same time.
We’re all going through our Saturdays (the mess) while still showing up and LIVING and LAUGHING and LOVING. You can feel deep grief for those who are losing loved ones right now while experiencing deep joy and gratitude for the abundance of time you have with yours. You can feel deep worry and sadness for those who are tasked with being our frontline heroes right now while also celebrating every small win, victory and person who is recovering. You can laugh one minute because your kid is running around the house in her underwear and you can cry the next because you miss getting hugs from your family. It’s all okay. Every emotion. The worst thing we can do is shut off or stuff down our emotions because we feel guilty for feeling them.
Glennon Doyle writes about and offers so much wisdom on the Friday – Saturday – Sunday journey that is life. If you’d like a reminder that, as Glennon says, you can do hard things, here is a great talk she did for Oprah’s Super Soul Sessions. Also, one of my favorite quotes from her is this…
“First the pain. Then the waiting. Then the rising. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Fall. Winter. Spring. It’s not personal, it’s just the way of things. Cheers to all those in the pain or the waiting tonight. Spring is coming. We can do hard things.”
I love you ladies, and I’m in the storm with you. I’m finding my anchors just like you, and I’m holding on to hope while this Saturday storm rages. And when Sunday comes, I will be here for you then too. And we will rise. Together and more united than ever.