Be Gentle

This holiday season I’ve found comfort in warm drinks especially chai tea with honey & milk, hot chocolate, and even decaf coffee at night. Tonight, I added some sprinkles of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to my coffee grounds hoping to make a cup of “Christmas cheer.” It didn’t disappoint and tasted a bit like Christmas morning. And, though it feels like the Grinch has stolen our holiday weather here in South Carolina, I’ve really tried to soak in the smell of our live Christmas tree, it’s colorful twinkling lights, and the time spent decorating it with my husband while listening to the Chipmunks sing Christmas carols. I’ve soaked in all the cozy couch cuddles while watching Christmas movies like It’s a Very Muppet Christmas and The Christmas Story. I’ve also enjoyed sightings of Christmas lights while we drive around town running errands in the evenings. I’m so grateful for these adult moments of childish joy. They make the pain of loss feel a little less sharp.

Lately, I find my mind wandering off a lot and reflecting on life-the past, the present, and the future. In true Nadia fashion, I also find myself worrying a lot. I try really hard not to, but it’s like breaking an unhealthy addiction for me. It’s really hard, and sometimes, it feels impossible. At the same time, I intentionally try harder to look for the small everyday blessings like “a cup of Christmas cheer,” Christmas movie cuddles, and twinkling lights. Oh, and let me not forget, the joy of a flowering Christmas cactus. Those are the places and things that remind me of God’s unwavering love. They remind me to have hope during hopeless times. They remind me how complex the human heart is-how a heart can feel despair and broken while also feeling loved and supported. How the heart can feel fragile while also feeling strong.

I’m currently in the middle of a crash course on feeling fragilely strong. There are parts of me that I’ve never really sat and visited. Probably because sitting with these things makes me uncomfortable and stirs up feelings of shame. However, just a few months, or even weeks ago, I would’ve just pushed right past these parts of myself because that’s what I do. I numb myself and push through the hard stuff because that’s what strong people do. At least, that’s the story I’ve told myself all of my life. Turns out, scared people numb and push through not “strong” ones. Pushing through, running past, and ignoring the truth isn’t kind. I don’t want to be scared and unkind to myself anymore. I don’t want to worry my life away and live a “when” life.

When the workday is done I can relax. When it’s winter break I can rest. When I accomplish this goal, I can breathe. When the house is clean, I can find peace. When all of our debts are paid, we’ll be happier. When it’s nicer weather, my mood will improve. When it’s the weekend, I’ll have time to write. When it’s the New Year, I’ll do better. When…when…when.

I want to be courageous, and I want to give myself as much compassion as I give others. I want to give myself permission to feel what I feel when I feel it and to sit with it like I would a friend. I’ve been drawn to warm drinks because I’d want to sit with a friend over coffee in their time of need. I’ve valued cozy couch cuddles full of love because they remind the hurt little girl inside how nice it feels to be nurtured. Twinkling lights have brought me joy because I’ve learned a flickering gleam of light shines just as beautiful and bright.

May we all be gentler with the hearts of others as well as our own.

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