In case you are wondering, I have really good days. I never write on those days though, because I am too busy enjoying them. Last week was almost an entire week of goodness! I couldn't believe it. I had much more motivation, I had very few thoughts of wanting to give up, I had very manageable mania, and I accomplished more than I have in a long time. It felt so so good! It was refreshing and much needed.
This last weekend, we traveled to Indiana for my youngest sister's baptism and another sister's wedding. While we were there, I felt great. Like so great that I started to feel the desire to have another baby (that's huge!), I wasn't scared at the thought of moving (also huge), I really wanted to be around my husband and daughter, I felt the touching influence of the Spirit, and I felt the abundance of love for my husband and daughter that I long to feel every day. I felt like I was in heaven, and I wished with all my heart that these feelings would last forever.
Last night, the mania returned and brought a heap of darkness and lack of motivation with it. Gone were the feelings of happiness and normalcy. This morning, I felt somewhat devastated. I guess I really just assumed that things were normal now and that the darkness wouldn't return. So when it did return, I was crushed.
But last week, I had a quote pop into my mind, and I looked it up right away. I'm not sure why I thought of it or why I looked to find the exact quote, but I will call it a tender mercy, because it has stayed in my mind since then. It's this quote:
There are so many times that I want to become bitter. I want to think it is unfair that all of this darkness is a part of my life, unfair that no one can really understand what my broken heart feels, unfair that I can't just be who I want to be and who I can be otherwise, and unfair that I can't make myself better.
But the more I have focused on finding joy through this journey, the more it has become my quest to refrain from becoming bitter as I partake of this bitter cup. And I really believe that seeking to find joy through the darkness has saved my heart from becoming hardened and bitter.
Besides striving to find joy though, I have found other things that have helped me to not become bitter through this process:
- Recognizing that everyone has something they have to deal with, so I'm not being picked on or punished. Really, collecting the stories for my "That We Might Have Joy" project has helped me with this a lot. We all have our individual trials to go through, and we are here to help each other through our struggles, no matter how different they are.
- Not being overly sensitive and recognizing that people are trying to help even when it's not helpful. This is so hard for me sometimes, because people say things that sting, but it is my choice for how I will react, so I can just remember the goodness of people, and let the hurt wash away, knowing that it wasn't meant to hurt.
- Keeping an eternal perspective. In the very darkest hours, I feel like I lose all ability to remember that this is for my eternal gain, but I try my hardest to remember that I am growing, learning, and becoming through this process. It's a good thing to be stretched, even though stretching causes growing pains.
- Being flexible and setting new, reasonable expectations for myself. This has allowed me to not be bitter and hardened at the fact that I can't do everything anymore, and it has allowed me to be more patient and forgiving of myself.
- Holding onto the hope that someday all of this really will be better. It won't last forever, and someday looking back, the hurt will seem like such a small moment. I would rather come out of this having a compassionate, loving, softened heart than a bitter, hardened heart. And that is dependent on my choices and my attitude.
- Being thankful. Finding every little thing to be thankful for and to love. Recognizing the big and small blessings that surround me. Doing this doesn't take away the pain, but it does make the pain bearable until the sharpness dulls or leaves.
We all have our own bitter cups to drink, but we really do have the choice of whether or not it makes us bitter. I'm definitely not perfect at this yet, but with time, I hope to be able to choose joy and gratitude perfectly.