Disclaimer: I love Glennon Doyle. I’ve read her books and I love her podcast. I love her authenticity and her vulnerability. In a recent podcast, she responded to a caller who was asking for support during a hard time. Glennon explained that hard times give us an excuse to forget everything but what is most important to us. They force us to watch everything fall away so that what is permanent in us can remain. So what do we do in these hard times? Glennon says that we let go of the five-year plan and “do nothing but the next right thing.”
Hard incidents are one thing, but hard times, hard moments, hard weeks or months or years, well…these are really hard. It is instinctive for us to want to get through these times as quickly as possible, to find the solution and get to the other side. But we aren’t always in charge of the timing, and sometimes we make it worse when we rush the process. But, who wants to stay present in pain? This is particularly challenging when we are dealing with chronic physical pain, the death of a loved one, divorce, or other emotionally and physically challenging experiences that have no clear end in sight.
So back to my question, what do we do? Nothing? First of all, we let go of any notion of how we thing this is supposed to be. We let go of ideas of who we think we are supposed to be–unaffected, blissful through the pain, spilling out pithy statements right and left about gratitude and growth, blah blah blah…I say keep it real. Let it all come out. Vent to a good friend, someone who can handle your present reality, however dark it may be. Find a physical practice, whether it be taking a walk, doing yoga or breathwork (which you can do lying in bed or sitting in a chair) and bring it into the body. Ask yourself, where do I feel this pain in my body, and go there with breath or movement. And send love and compassion to that part of your body. And if you can’t, call a friend. Ask them to send some love. Call upon the Divine. Bring in that love. Love is what heals. Not judgment. Not five-year plans.
Maybe the next right thing is a bath, maybe a self-hug, maybe calling a friend. For me, I find yoga and good friends help most. I’ve found an amazing new yoga studio where I live, and I walk out of every class feeling renewed with presence and good energy. And I need my people, those amazing friends I can be really dark with and who can help me hold that space. Thank God for them! And I find God in the the quiet moments of my morning walk, in my husband’s hug and the surprise call from one of my children. We have to keep it simple, take baby steps, and be very gentle and loving with ourselves.