I had a weird day this week.
You know the ones. You can't quite put your finger on it. And then you can. But it's still not totally that.
I woke up to an email from a friend sharing some great news. I was so thrilled. I thought "what a great way to wake up!"
I texted Z to share the news. He agreed it was great news. Our little text exchange was celebratory.
And then I checked my email a few short hours later to learn some heartbreaking news from another friend. I thought "why does this happen?"
I texted Z to share the news. He agreed it was devastating. Our little text exchange was heavy with sadness.
The weather was even weird. The morning dawned sunny and clear. And then the clouds rolled in, heavy with rain and thunder (which was strange, because I can count on one hand the amount of times it has thundered since we've lived in Germany). And then, as if the weather thought "well that's enough of that", the sun came back out. Weather whiplash that matched the emotional collision.
I never know what to do with these weird days. With the juxtaposition of celebration and mourning. With energy and weariness competing within me. When what I'm experiencing is at the same time wonderful and hard.
I'm not very good at dealing with things head-on, especially when conflicting emotions are involved. Me and the ostrich, we have that (and, strangely enough, a lot of other things) in common. We're head-in-the-sand-ers. I'd like to think I'm improving in this area, slowly but surely. But sometimes more slowly. And usually way less surely.
I stumble over words, trying desperately to convey something meaningful but feeling like what I really want to say just won't come out right. This is why writing is so helpful for me. Words flow a lot easier through my fingers than my mouth. This is also why with almost every major issue I have faced, whether personally or relationally, I have had to sit down and journal or write a letter because I know I will be frustrated and disappointed at the way I convey things otherwise. It's probably something I need to work on...but I also don't want to force it, making it even more unnatural and clumsy. It requires cultivation, this learning how to adequately express myself verbally. And cultivation feels like a huge word and an even huger task, which just sort of exhausts me in lieu of everything else that is on my plate. This is where priorities are helpful, I suppose.
"Cultivation of verbal expression in the face of emotional turmoil". I'm not sure if that should go above or below "change Zoe's diapers in a timely manner".
Anyways, I did the only thing I know to do in situations like these. I wrote an email back to my one friend, sharing my excitement about the exciting, wonderful news. And then I wrote an email back to my other friend, sharing my sorrow over their sad, hard news. And I thought about how often this theme, this hard-and-wonderful intertwined, is appearing in my life lately.
Granted, the hard-and-wonderful I experienced on this particular day was not MY hard-and-wonderful. But it was the hard and the wonderful of people that I really love and care about, and since they shared their hard and their wonderful with me on the same day, within hours of each other, it meshed together to form a married hard-and-wonderful experience. And it further illuminated the existence of hard-and-wonderful that has been showing up so often in my own life. I think that's why it threw me off balance a little more than usual. I felt it, and I felt it in a different way, a way that was more outside of myself and a little bit harder to stuff aside with the hollow promise of "I'll tackle those feelings and what they mean another day, probably, but for now ... " *THUNK* (head firmly in sand).
I know it seems like an absurdly simple revelation. This is life. It is hard. And it is wonderful. And maybe I'm just slow or have had a more tidy experience of the highs and lows of life, but I find that usually the hard and the wonderful ebb and flow separately. If you were to chart this (and of course you would), it would look like a soothing wave, with soft up-and-down curves. Gentle. Rhythmic. "Wonderful" being the crests and "hard" being the troughs (full disclosure: had to google "anatomy of a wave" for that one). That's where you get the whole "mountain tops and valleys" analogy about life as well. "Seasons of life" and all that...suggesting that if you're in a hard season, a wonderful one will follow (or vice versa). There's usually a clean separation between the two, right?
So what about when there's not? What about when life is exactly wonderful AND hard, right at the same time?
I'm not trying to say anything deeper or bigger that what I'm actually saying, so before you think "oh my gosh, it's a cry for help...I wonder what is going on?" just settle down. This is just something that has been swirling around in my mind and popping up in conversations with friends and becoming a part of my general awareness in recent months. A lot of it has to do with welcoming Zoe into our lives, because if there's one thing that having a newborn will introduce to you or heighten your awareness of, it's this collaboration of hard-and-wonderful. So I'm learning to live in the hard-and-wonderful and be ok with the hard-and-wonderful and figuring out how to navigate the hard-and-wonderful and even be (dare I say it?) comfortable with the hard-and-wonderful.
Do you know what I mean?