There comes a time in everyone’s life when we think life couldn’t get any harder. When the future looks so bleak we don’t want to continue. When we wonder if anyone would care if we were gone and we fantasize about death because it would be easier than living the life we have. We tell ourselves “I”ll be happy when” and pray that day arrives soon because it’s all we can do to keep ourselves from breaking down.
I have found myself stuck in that dark pit several times and it can be very hard to claw your way out. Recently I escaped that dark hole. It was hard and I didn’t know if I would make it but I had help and I want to tell you about the little girl who threw me a rope to make that climb easier.
Elizabeth Stone said, the decision to have a child is momentous because “it is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside of your chest.” Ava Jean is the daughter of a close friend. She entered this world and stayed just long enough to forever impact those around her. Three days after birth, Ava returned to Our Heavenly Father and left many broken hearts down here on earth. It is in these times that many of us turn to our own lives and are able to look at them with new lenses. The non-existent blessings that seemed buried deep in the earth’s core suddenly surface and we are able to see the light around us.
I never met Ava but she taught me something very special. The week Ava died, I was in an emotional hell. The trials I was facing weighed so heavy on my back that I felt I might crumble under the pressure. I didn’t see an end to the suffering. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. There was no I’ll be happy when.” I had no idea how to keep moving forward. I was frozen in fear; paralyzed by the “what ifs” and the uncertainty of the situation around me. I felt like a helpless bystander in my own life. Watching helplessly from the sidelines as the severity of the situation worsened. I had no control of anything around me. It was as if I was shoved in a boxing ring with my arms tied behind my back left to fight a heavy weight champion named “Life’s Biggest Trial.” I had no defense system or way of protecting myself. I stood there waiting and bracing myself for the blows. Praying I might still be alive after the brutal beating. I had lost all hope. I was ready and willing to lay down and die at any moment because it was easier than living through the trial that was laughing in my face as it crushed me.
Ava taught me something no one else could. I may have been a mother hen doing my best to shelter my children under my wings; scared and cowering as my children and I became prey to a hungry predator. Knowing that if I let myself lay down and die that it would devour the only thing that mattered to me. But even in that very moment, no matter how grim it appeared, no matter how helpless I felt, I had a reason to be grateful.
I had children to gather under my wings. I had children who loved me deeply and depended on me for their safety. I had boo boos that needed kissing and tears that needed wiping. I had children that I could hold, that I could watch peacefully sleeping. I could run my fingers gently through their hair, kiss their little cheeks and admire their beautiful faces. I have the chance to watch their chest rise and fall knowing they are healthy, loving them in that moment and finding comfort in the time that we would share in the future. Ava’s sweet Mother did not have the time that I had. She would have given anything for more time. She would gladly step under the ropes of that ring I hated so much, take the brutal beating and when it was done stand up and ask for more, as long as it meant that she would be able to hold her baby, protect her and watch her grow.
I watched at the funeral as Ava’s Mom’s heart broke while a couple pallbearers carried her tiny little casket out. I heard her grief as she sobbed and watched them set her baby’s new home down on the grass beside her grave. I watched her parents and brother’s arms ache to hold her little body as they struggled to understand why she was chosen to return so early in this life.
The pain of Ava’s death taught me not to wait to be happy, that even in the hardest times I have reasons to be grateful. It taught me the reason that time in my life was so hard and depressing was because my trials where all I was choosing to see. I put my trials so close to my face that I couldn’t see any of the blessing around me. In that moment, I realized there is no arrival point or destination where all the pain in this life stops. There will always be trials that give us a reason to be unhappy. Before I thought the antidote to my situation was to either get out of it or wallow in it and be unhappy forever. I now know it was just a simple prescription for some gratitude lenses. Not the gratitude you force yourself to feel because you’re supposed to, but gratitude that in my case, allowed me to put down the trials I held so close to my face so that I could see everything else that was wonderful and beautiful in my life. A gratitude that was brought on by watching a friend in her boxing ring with her heavy weight champion.
“I’ll be happy when” is an illusion that we allow ourselves to believe in order to willingly become a victim to our own situation. It creates an escape that allows us to bypass our opportunity to take accountability for the difficult situation we find ourselves in. We tell ourselves I deserve to be depressed. The hardships in my life have qualified me to have the right to be “happy when.”
We don’t even be responsible for the situation we are in but being accountable means we can accept it, own it, and do something about it but because doing that and choosing how we want to feel is hard we retreat to the lies and false feelings of being “happy when.” We surrender our control and allow ourselves to become a slave to that excuse. Being depressed, bitter and angry is always easier than being happy. “I’ll be happy when” becomes the biggest lie we tell ourselves. It provides ourselves with permission to live in unhappiness. It is our excuse for not progressing and working to become a better human being.
Ava also taught me that no matter what hell I am walking through, no matter how helpless I feel, I always have a choice. I can choose which lenses I view my life through. I can choose to wear the lense that shows me a dark and horrible situation where all hope is lost. One that tells me to give up now because I might as well be digging my own grave or I can choose to stop digging, look up and place the glasses on my face that show me all the blessings and loved ones around me. I can see people from my past and people whose paths I am meant to cross in the future. I can see my children, my parents, my husband. Those people who hold the ropes that make it easier for me to pull myself from that deep dark pit. They are ready and willing to help at any moment but I have to stop digging and allow them the opportunity to help me. I see Ava, a sweet little angel, who in some of the darkest moments of my life showed me the light and taught me how to live despite unbearable trials.
I want to end my post with a poem a friend wrote about miss Ava Jean.
It was Written by Teri Iverson, blogger of Innergybliss@blogspot.com
“Today I was blessed to sit on the bed of my heart little sister, hold her hand, and as tears streamed down our faces she told me of her precious angel Ava. As she told me of her fierce determination, gumption, and fighting spirit… I pictured her a lot like her mama, when she spoke of her energy to keep pushing when she was so tired, I pictured her a lot like her daddy… She had her daddy’s chin and her mama’s eyes… She had dark hair with blonde shimmers, she came with highlights…she’s the perfect blend of them. She was wished for and prayed for… she was the miracle of two people who deeply love her…. I can envision her looking down waiting for her time to come through these amazing parents to this life… and while they patiently waited for her to make her appearance they nurtured her and they talked to her, they read amazing books and they prepared for their life to change with her. What they didn’t prepare for was that she would come for such a short time… they knew her as she grew strong in her mamas womb and they anticipated holding her in their arms for years to come… but the plan wasn’t theirs, it was a higher plan that she had made before she came… She came to teach them how to love deeper and to trust in a vision bigger than their own. As the doctors pulled her from her cozy home, her heart wasn’t beating, her breath had stopped… they worked on her feverishly for 11 min…. She could have chosen at that time to go, she was tired; but her mama was asleep and she hadn’t seen her face…. She knew she needed time with her to look in her eyes and show her she loved her…. To hear her daddy’s voice clearly …. She knew they needed these days to prepare for her departure… that every moment was precious…that every moment was blessed. In 3 short days she touched many hearts and souls….people who would never even see her little face… and as her soul touched us, we knew her love…. A spirit so expansive and bright enough to light so many sparks… We will always miss holding her, but will forever feel her soul with us. In the hard times she will surround and hold us up and in the times of joy she will be the echo in the laughter and the twinkle in our smiles. The miracle of Ava will continue to teach us, sometimes the force will take our breath away and sometimes in the most subtle breeze it will quietly blow through us….but we will be transformed none the less….”
Ava’s Mommy is passing through a trial that questions her very existence in this world. YOU are going through a trial that may feel like there is no way you will survive. But get up. Don’t let that heavy weight champion stand over you as the referee declares his victory. You may be beaten to a pulp and want to give up and die right now but I can’t let you do that. Get up and fight again. You are worth it. You have the strength. Ava taught me no matter how painful your situation is there is always something to be grateful for; a reason to be happy; something that will pick you up and help you to continue on in this life. Take the time to find that strength and hold on to it. Change the lenses you are viewing your life through. Feel gratitude for those blessings in your life and revisit them often. Promising to be happy in the future only robs you of the sweet moments life has to offer in the present. Never wait to be happy now.