Upon hearing the words “Oh, and I cheated on you…”, during a walk mid-April three years ago, my world as I knew it and the life I had spent so many years building and creating, fell apart. In an instant, everything changed. Reality was not what I had thought it to be.
In the months to follow, as I struggled to understand, grasping for hope and reconciliation in the midst of the chaos and new truths being brought to light, I found myself thrust into a world of uncertainty, having to deal with things I never thought would be part of my story.
As I struggled and dealt with the uncertainty, betrayal, loss, grief, anger, desperation - and six months later, divorce - I found myself fighting with defiant hope, striving to not lose myself in the midst of life’s storms. There were days I mustered all the strength I had just to go to work and make it through the day without bursting into tears. There were days where it felt as though nothing had changed. I would find myself talking, sharing a meal, and laughing with friends.
The truth is, when I caught myself feeling happy during those times, I began to feel guilty. Shouldn’t I be sad all the time? I mean, my life is falling apart, how can I be laughing right now? This can’t be okay…is this okay?
But in allowing myself to feel all of the emotions, no matter how seemingly polarized they were, I began to see the beauty within the tension. We were not created to be robots. Being present and allowing ourselves to truly feel whatever it is we may be feeling in a present moment is a beautiful gift.
It is okay to fall to the ground sobbing uncontrollably, feeling the piercing dagger of betrayal, and the next afternoon to be playing games with a group of friends while laughing to the point of tears.
What do we do with these seemingly polarized feelings and emotions? How do we cope? How do we hold them together at the same time? The tension is here.
This is where life is lived. And this is where we have the choice to push through, to carry on, to live in the in-between and to invite others to come alongside us and to enter into the cave of uncertainty with us, in search of the infinite beauty to be found here.
We all live with pain and hurt, joy and pleasure. We may have or may be experiencing grief, sorrow, betrayal, loss, anguish, despair, anger, uncertain circumstances and intermingled and woven within, somehow experience happiness, joy, contentment, love, goodness, and even inexplicable peace.
The difficult task we have all been granted, is to lean in and feel the tension of this gloriously messy life, and to seek to find the beauty within.
During this tense time, I struggled to want to continue to eat healthy while at the same time wanting food that brought some sort of comfort. I also lived in the tension of wanting to eat alone, and wanting to be around people and share a meal. One meal that I often found myself making, and sometimes making at friend’s apartments with them, was Zucchini Lasagna. Even friends who may otherwise not have enjoyed lasagna made with zucchini instead of pasta, enjoyed the meal!
I always modified the recipe, as I don’t do dairy, and added Italian sausage and olives, but I encourage you to make it however you see fit, and share it with people in your life and community who are there with you, living in the tension and seeking the beauty alongside you.
Two songs I found myself listening to and singing over and over during this time:
Even When It Hurts, by Hillsong United- https://youtu.be/hrSJwO5dJXg
Your Love is Strong, by Jon Foreman- https://youtu.be/G-g4uwQlXKw
Heavenly Father, we need you. We love you.
Be with us in the times of uncertainty and sorrow.
Be with us in the times of joy and rejoicing.
Help us in the times of sorrowful joy, to be present and to fully feel the tension that is found here. May we press into you, and into community, knowing that even in the darkest and tensest of times, your love and presence radiates an undying light.
Teach us to hold the seemingly polarized feelings and emotions together, as we lean into you and those you have placed in community with us.
Thank you for showing us how to live life within the tension, and to see the beauty that may be found here.
I encourage you to take some time this week, to allow yourself to be still and fully feel whatever it is you may be feeling. In a society that tells us to “suck it up” and “go it alone”, we often lack truly experiencing the tension of holding and feeling joy and pain together. We may be okay feeling these on our own, but I encourage you to ask a close friend or group of friends to sit with you in whatever you may be going through, and allow them to enter and feel and pray with you in this tension. Entering the tension with community is a truly beautiful gift.