Dear You: No One Gets Left Behind

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Dear you,

Life can be hard.

Actually, let’s be real: Sometimes, life can be hard as hell.

We go through things that leave us in tears by the end of the day (if we even make it to the end of the day before the tears start falling). We go through things that draw out anger we didn’t know we were capable of. Some situations leave us more bitter than we ever thought possible.

But honestly? Some things just hurt unimaginably, straight down to our bones. And all we can think to ask is, “Why me?”

“Why do I have to go through this?”

“Why do I have to be in this dark place?”

“Why do I have to hurt so badly?”

I’m not going to be that person who says, “There’s a reason for it,” because I refuse to trivialize your pain or confusion with a cliché. I know that’s literally the last thing you want to hear when you’re going through some of the most painful moments of your life. But here’s what I do believe, more than just about anything:

We’re not meant to leave people behind.

Here’s the thing: While there may not necessarily be a “reason” for what we go through, it also doesn’t have to be for nothing. Sometimes we’re going to walk through darkness. Sometimes it feels like we’re right smack in the middle of the woods, nowhere close to any hope of a trail, surrounded by trees, trees, and more trees. No map, no GPS signal, no signs that even point to a way out of this. It’s terrifying – paralyzing, even.

But when the tragedy is over, when the storm has passed, when the healing begins, we come out the other side of those trees. And if anything, once we reach the other side, we’re able to show people that light never truly goes away. The sunlight streams through the trees during the day, even if its just a sliver. The stars and moon shine at night, doing all they can to give some semblance of light. And if the ones we love are still stumbling through their own wilderness, then I don’t believe we should just let them keep stumbling – maybe we’re meant to be the lights that help guide them through to the other side. If they’re not able to see the sun or the stars or the moon, then at least they’ll be able to see us.

When you’ve been through darkness, you learn to appreciate things that shine. And if we choose to let it, I think going through the things we do gives us a special sort of passion to make sure others know they’re not alone in their darkness. We may not be able to walk the path for them, but we can walk beside them. When they get tired, we can be there with the water and the food and the pillow. If they’re ready give up, if they want to just sit in the middle of the woods and not get back up, we can assure them that the darkness isn’t going to last forever. That they’re not alone in this. And then, we can remind them what they’re made of.

Once we’ve been through our own wilderness, we’re able to say, “Hey, you’ve got this. The clearing is right up ahead – I promise. It might be one heck of a walk, and you’re probably going to run into some branches and thorns and downed trees and unsteady ground, but it’s there. You’ve got to keep going, but you’ll make it.”

Honestly, maybe that’s one of the most crucial points of life: Meeting others at their bottom, at their worst moments, and reminding them of who they are and where they’re going. Of holding their hands as they stand. And if they’re not able to stand on their own, maybe we can help pull them to their feet.

And if you’re currently going through one of life’s off-the-trail moments, let me be the first to say: The buddy system works wonders. Seriously. If you’ve got someone who’s willing to help you navigate through those trees, let them. The woods shouldn’t be traveled alone. ❤

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