I have written before about those very human moments when we feel the distance between what currently is and what should be. That discomfort reveals our goals and dreams and puts them in order for us. Without that feeling, we would be complacent and unchanging and the future would not entice us.
For some, that painful discrepancy is the career we dream of but haven’t yet achieved, or even the state of a world that seems darker and more confusing each day. For some of us, it’s the sting of infertility, or the absence of the life partner we have been yearning for. Our hearts reach out of our chests to the future, trying to bring it close.
I read this quote on Instagram the other day and was so touched by it. Comparison is a seductive path. It fools you into thinking that you can find a shortcut, that it’ll help you figure things out for yourself. But truly it just makes you feel like you’re losing a race. We women seem to do this a lot, in the privacy of our own thoughts. We worry that we are falling behind, that we aren’t as accomplished, beautiful, useful, or needed as our peers. The imposter syndrome is strong in us. When we see our friends enjoy the blessing we fervently pray for, we are happy for them, AND we feel one other thing. Either that other thing is hopelessness for ourselves, OR it is exhilaration at the discovery that our dreams are indeed possible. If we choose exhilaration, we choose gratitude. There is the light that we have been waiting for in the darkness! There is our permission to keep working hard because success is possible.
I have been focusing so hard on rising up. Extraordinary people accomplish what they must IN SPITE of the ache. They are not discouraged by the success of others, it spurs them on! Their feet are lighter even if their heart is heavy and sad, because they have seen it. They know it is possible.
Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks differentiates between optimism and hope. Hope is the belief that we can make things better. That these two hands can accomplish what is needed, even if our hearts ache every step of the way. What differentiates us as human beings is that discomfort need not stop us. We were created to feel the pain but to courageously do what must be done anyway.
In her song, Rise Up, which I quoted above, Andra Day writes “all we need is hope, and for that we have each other”. We must give each other hope– the belief that our actions can make a difference. Instead of comparing, we must take courage from each others’ successes. We must reach back to those who stand where we once stood. We must feel the pain, recognize the bravery it will require of us, and still do it “a thousand times again”.
That’s my wish for each of you , my friends, on this spring Friday. May you continue to rise up. To shine like a beacon of hope when you succeed, and to glow like a pearl when you struggle. Because you are beautiful, each and every one of you, in your victories and your gratitude, in your pain and your exhilaration. May you receive every single blessing you pray for.