I had a really good discussion over a large ice cream sundae with Sarah (while I was in Thailand last month) about the last 6 years of my life and she asked me, “If you had the choice… Would you do it all over again or choose to skip over the the hardest time of your whole life?”
What did I learn? How did I grow? Were the lessons and growth worth the pain? I have thought about it like crazy ever since that discussion, being divorced at 27 makes you really evaluate things.
I would do it all over again in a heartbeat because:
-More than anything, I have Brooke (well, for 88% of the month:). I would go through anything in the entire world to have this little girl.
-I learned through everything that true self-esteem has nothing to do with my looks, my size, material things or what another person thinks about me. It comes from inside. It comes from making good decisions, sticking to my values, by being kind, developing talents/skills and by serving others. If what had happened 10 months ago to me happened when I was 20… I don’t think my self-esteem could have handled it. I would have been a mess but over the years I have learned so much about myself and how my worth has nothing to do with somebody else’s decisions.
-I can now help other women. One girl in particular was a huge mentor for me after everything happened. She recently told me that it is now my job to help other women get through similar situations just like how she helped me. What a great cycle—> to go through something hard, recover, become stronger and then to be able to turn around and help someone else as they are going through something you understand completely makes it all worth it.
-You just can’t control everything. A lesson that I simply needed to learn. I have learned that I can only control about 4% of my life and that is okay. My life is nowhere near what I thought it would be at this point but that doesn’t matter, you just have to make the best out of what you have. Enjoying where you are now (even if it is in your parents’ basement ((okay, I actually really love it here)) is SO key to being happy.
“You have to be intentional about the joy.” -John Eldredge
-To ‘let it go’ as Elsa from Frozen says. Dwelling on the past is an awful way to live. Reliving painful memories, obsessing about the whys and wondering if things could have been different will drive you crazy. ‘Look forward with faith in good things to come’ is something that I have learned through this experience.
-I have loved learning how to be comfortable being independent and realizing that I don’t need somebody else to make me happy. I have learned that spending a Friday night in bed with chocolate and a good book is actually a great way to spend a Friday night.
-My faith and prayer became even more important to me during these years. It is my core. It is my center.
-Running really does make everything better. Okay, that is something I have always known but man, running sure makes me feel better and to be able to think more optimistically.
Learning these lessons made all of the pain worth it.
It’s just like marathon/half marathon/10k/5k/ultra/any type of running training. There are crazy hard runs and mornings you don’t want to get out of bed to run. There are injuries and silly sicknesses that keep us from going full speed and make us take a few steps backwards. It’s hard and sometimes we cry but how else do we get our body strong enough to run X amount of miles at X speed? It’s the lessons that we learn through training and putting our body through those really tough workouts that get us to where we want to be on race day.
Skipping the hard part would leave us weak. The hard runs are what build muscle, character, cardiovascular fitness and confidence… I don’t think anybody would choose to trade in the strength they gained from fighting through the hard times for the easy path that doesn’t make us any stronger.
It is the hard stuff in life that refines us, that forces us to grow and that transforms us into the people we want to become.