I recently read this quote by Glennon Doyle Melton on her Instagram feed: “Life is hard. But love wins.” If I had to pick six words to summarize my philosophy of life, those might be them.
Challenge, struggle, grief, pain, frustration, annoyance, anxiety — these things are real. Informed by Internal Family Systems model, I am a big proponent of acknowledging and naming all our feelings, of giving the negative as well as the positive a voice, of normalizing the dark aspects of ourselves and our experiences that we so often want to hide or gloss over. Life is hard. And if not particularly so in the present moment, we know that it will be: we will all face losses and heartache and disappointment, in some capacity. As one of my favorite Divinity School professors said, “the one thing I guaranteed my children upon giving them life was death.”
And yet. (Those are two golden words themselves, offering the chance for a closer examination, a longer look, a turning over of an idea, like a coin in your hand, to get a different perspective.)
Hope, satisfaction, relief, connection, warmth, joy, kindness — these things, the many manifestations of love in its various emotions and flavors, are also real.
Caleb is visiting his parents and siblings in Ohio for our sweet niece’s first birthday party, so I’m spending the morning in bed, content with my laptop, journal, a stack of books, and a cup of coffee. I’m cozy under the weight of the quilt my mom made us for a wedding gift, with its “courthouse steps” and “Ohio star” patterns, mixing fabrics from my childhood — snips of halloween costumes and Cameroonian prints and my St. Andrew School uniform. What a gift of love. What a tangible reminder of the attention, time, creativity, discipline and tenderness my mom has wrapped around me — warm and protective, like the quilt itself — for the past almost-three decades.
I’ve felt anxious and sad about my parents this past week. My mom slipped on the ice — breaking her nose, jamming her shoulder and gashing her forehead — and then they’re also about to head off for six months in Uganda. I worry about them and I worry about me and what I would do if something happened to them.
The realness of love doesn’t negate the hardness of life, but maybe it makes it worth it.