Recently, friends have been asking me for advice…about marriage and parenting. (Ha! The irony. They think I know something about these things!) My friends are worn out, beaten down, broken, and ready to throw in the towel. They want to quit. They want to start fresh. They want a manual. They want help. They just plain want life to stop being so HARD.
Anyone else? (Tyler raises her hand!)
I recall those years of our marriage. The days when arguing and criticizing were the only words spoken and any remaining hours were spent in stony silence. When the daily hurt seemed more than I could bear.
Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I heard the words, “If it’s meant to be, it shouldn’t be so hard.” Probably a classic break-up line from Degrassi…
As a parent, I can’t count the times I’ve wondered, “Why is this so hard? Is something wrong with him/her? Is something wrong with me? Maybe we need Super Nanny.”
In the face of being needed, I dug deep for words of wisdom, encouragement, advice. I sifted through the memories of all the hard things (some as recent as 5 minutes ago) for a nugget that might help. And I came up with only three words:
HARD. IS. NORMAL.
It’s normal to sometimes (lots of times) feel like we’re failing. At work, at home, in marriage and parenting… It is perfectly normal for all these things to feel HARD.
The problem is that we’ve convinced ourselves that hard is bad. Hard is evil. Hard is a sign. It’s a throw-away world, where we can dispose of most anything we don’t like, have outgrown, no longer love, are too lazy to fix, etc. New and shiny, the latest and greatest – this is what we all want. And I’m not just talking about the soon-to-be-released iPhone 6.
We equate new with easy. And oh, how we want life to be easy!
But I’ve got news for us all…tough news to swallow… New is hard, too.
Buy a new cell phone because the old one is slow and freezes and plain old sucks. Spend hours figuring out how to get those contacts to transfer over and the email messages to load.
Get a new spouse because the old one just doesn’t care anymore and we can’t get along and we just don’t love each other anymore. How much money does it cost to “start over” financially? How much time does it take to learn the quirks and kinks of a new relationship? How much pain does it cause the kids to live divided lives?
Hate the old job with all the politics and other BS, so get a new job. But now we need to make new friends, learn new skills and systems, endure a new probationary period.
New does not equal easy any more than old equals hard.
So you and I have a choice to make… Will we do the hard work for the things that we’ve already invested countless hours and endless energy in? Or will we do the hard work of starting over? Either way, we’re pretty much stuck with hard.
So ask me for advice on parenting, or marriage, or finances, or work, or ministry, or whatever if you want to. (Why you would want to is beyond me, but some of my friends seem to think I know some stuff and have lived through some hard stuff, lol!) But I won’t be able to tell you how to fix everything and make it easy. Because there is no such thing as easy.
Life is hard. And hard is normal.
And surprisingly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
* On a side note, I’ve just managed to preach myself a pretty good message here. It wasn’t long ago that I could be found bemoaning the fact that we’ve lived here 4 1/2 years and still don’t feel the connection we long for. (Don’t get me wrong, there are a few people here who make my days SO happy! But it’s different than it was before we moved…where we really felt like we “belonged,” you know?)
I’ve been imagining how something new might be shinier and easier. Maybe a new church? Or a new school for the kids? Or a move to a new city?
I almost had myself convinced that it would be easier to start over. Until my friends started asking me for my thoughts on this hard life (thank you, friends). And then I remembered that life – even the good life, even the very best life – is HARD.
Life. Is. Hard.