Real life, raw emotion

One of my mentors told me, “Write it down, Ciara. Keep a journal and write down the stories, the pain, the heartache, and the trial. Write it down or you will forget it.”

My journaling served me very well during my two-year journey to hell and back. This week, I pulled out that journal and began to review all of its entries. It was interesting – reading from the outside looking in. No longer in the eye of the storm, I could look into the writing and feel the whirlwind of emotions swirling around that version of myself. I felt for that woman – understanding that extent of her pain, disappointment, shame, regret, loneliness, grief and defeat. She was so tired. Pure exhaustion was all I felt, as the mix of emotions kept me awake at night and wore me down throughout the day.

As I read entry after entry, there was a common theme that pulled me from each emotion I was feeling and set me down in a place where I was ready to take another step. That common thread was the power of relationships – my relationship with God, with my family, and with my dear friends. The life-giving power that relationships can give us during trying times is a sensation only those who have felt loss and sadness truly understand.

Patty Merrit was a beautiful woman. Not only superficial, magazine-like beauty, but beauty of character and spirit, too. After a valiant struggle with cancer, Patty went home at the age of 59. Her funeral was a peaceful memorial to a life well lived. Before Patty passed away, she faced fear, disappointment, and extreme pain. Inside each of the memorial cards the attendees received, her husband placed excerpts from Patty’s diary. “Jewels from Patty’s Diary,” he called them. Eleven years later, I still keep those “jewels” in my Bible. One entry she wrote specifically stood out to me: “Do we wrestle with God and go after the spiritual growth we desire? I reviewed Jesus’ parable in Matthew 7 about the house built on the rock and it was a reminder that it requires advanced planning to end up with a house (a life) that will withstand the storms that inevitably come.”

That entry blew me away upon first reading it, and I still think about it today.

It requires advanced planning to withstand the storms that inevitably occur throughout our lives. Building relationships in the good times will help prepare us for the storms, when we will need those relationships the most. When the storm comes, and we can lean into our relationships with God, family, and friends, we will find in them the support we need to survive.

Over the next several weeks, I’d like to invite you to read through the raw entries of my journal alongside me, and explore some examples of the deep emotions that can flood our core in the midst of adversity. Let’s dive in, and then, together, let’s discuss how relationships can pull us through the most emotional times in our lives and help us emerge, renewed, on the other side.

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