Below is an excerpt from our friend, Annie F. Downs. She has a way of speaking with such raw honestly that you find yourself saying, “Me too!” deep within your soul. Her new book, Looking for Lovely, releases April 1. You don’t want to miss this one!
“Over the past three years, my experience of pain and hurt has deepened. One of the hard parts of writing books is that not everyone in your life gives you permission to tell the stories you live, so to honor others, there are some stories I cannot tell. But within the last few years, I have experienced depth of heartbreak that I truly did not know was possible. I have never felt more alone, more abandoned, more misunderstood. While I was digging through old pains and problems, the world did not stop, and sin did not let up, and so for six or so months, I was pelted from the inside and the outside with more pain than I had previously known.
And I survived. I didn’t quit. I didn’t walk away from the pain or give up on life. I walked all the way through it, holding the hands of many trusted friends and my counselor, and here I am on the other side. My counselor was right; my capacity to see beauty has increased in a much bigger measure than the pain I felt. My ability to feel the depths of something good was strengthened by my choice to feel the depths of pain. I don’t exactly know how it works. I just know the more I hang on and feel, the more I am able to feel; and each time more balm gets rubbed into the wounds of my soul.
It’s sacred, right? Feeling God right here, in the middle, is just as my friend described. Purely sacred.
So looking for lovely is not some sort of cheerleader chant. I’m not waving pom-poms at you or dressing like Pollyanna and trying to convince you that things shouldn’t hurt if you are “doing this right.” In fact, I’d say it’s the other way around. It’s not about pretending everything is beautiful and nothing is ugly and you have no questions or doubts and picking out the beautiful in your everyday is going to protect you from anything hurting ever. It’s about feeling the pain, letting the sufferings be a part of your life, embracing the Romans 5:3 moments so you can process through the Romans 5:4 days so you live a Romans 5:5 hope-filled life.
If you aren’t experiencing pain, you aren’t experiencing beauty. Darkness makes us appreciate the beauty of the light. If you aren’t allowing yourself to feel the hurt, sadness, loneliness, and disappointment this fallen world has to offer, you probably aren’t feeling the fullness of the joy and beauty the redeemed moments have to offer.
There is nothing beautiful about a tragedy. My friend dying in a freak car accident? Not beautiful. And we feel that. Deeply. The pain of broken families and broken hearts sometimes is deeper than words can describe. But there is beauty in choosing to feel that pain, in calling hurt what it is, and not pretending everything is okay.
Whatever tragedy you have experienced or are currently living through, the most beautiful thing you can do is LIVE. Keep walking, keep weeping, keep eating. Don’t ignore the hurt. Don’t attempt to avoid it and just move on with your life. Feel it all, and invite people in to feel it with you.”