Like many things within our quantitative realm of human experience though, some negative can come bundled in with the positive. Increased allergies and occurrence of colds. Seasonal depressive disorders. Nostalgic reminiscence for seasons past that may have been happier than the times we find ourselves in today. The holidays in particular tend to invoke a longing for days passed – days where cherished loved ones were still with us. Days where friendships, romance, or new beginnings blossomed. Days where our loved ones may have been in better places mentally, physically, and spiritually than they are now. Maybe even times when we found ourselves in better form as well.
This concept is a truth for me; these happy memories are intermingled with darkness, growing stronger as I aged out of adolescence into adulthood. Addiction. Mental health issues. Pain. And borne of all of these – absence. Emotionally, physically, and spiritually. For a number of years in my active addiction I simply was no longer there. My disease took that from me. It took away my ability to be present for others. It turned me inside out; to the point that the happy go lucky, loving guy my family knew me as was reduced to a simple vestige.
This dichotomy exists within many of us – this balance of the good and bad. We might try to edge out the darkness on our own volition, try and marshal the will to look past the ugliness that may have been a part of our story; but we can’t alter what has already come to be. I can’t go back in time and console my family when I wasn’t present for the holidays. I can’t go back and un-say the hurtful things I said, time and time again. I cannot change the past, regardless of how much I may have historically wished that I could.
But that’s ok. Today I live in acceptance of that, and try my best to live my life in a manner that rights those wrongs. While the leaves indeed die and fall from the maple every year without hesitation, so too does the tree bud anew with time. Green leaves replenish the weary branches in spring, and the cycle of life continues. It was during one of these seasons of literal and figurative transformation that I found hope. Living desperately on the fringes of existence finally took its toll. The pain, the misery that my life had become eventually enabled change. It enabled restoration. It empowered me to accept help from individuals who God had placed in my life to show me the way. It facilitated a process in which those dark pieces of me died and withered away.
It’s so easy in this life to focus on the bad during seasons of hardship; to miss the forest for the trees. To feel bogged down in painful moments that feel as if they’ll last forever. To while away the time wishing for better days. I’ve personally expended countless amounts of vital energy doing exactly that. But what I’ve learned is this, despite everything we may be going through – whether it’s on a personal level or on behalf of someone we love – change, restoration, and healing are always within reach and often borne through tribulation.
I hope so very much this fall finds you all well. I hope happy memories are created for future days for you and your family to look back upon. I hope and pray that if you do find yourself this season in moments of strife – God blesses you with the perspective to see the strong foundation that can be built from them. I trust that He’ll place people on your path that will guide you, love you, and show you how to live through it. Just as He continues to do for me.
Sean – In Recovery