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“To everything, there is a season…
A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance…” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Some of you may know or have heard of this verse before. I feel like it is very fitting for this time we are all in. Right now we have COVID-19, people are sick and dying, losing their jobs, and now the possibility of killer bees in the U.S. Who knows what else 2020 will bring?
This time right now is hard. There are so many unknowns and everyone is saying that this is our “new normal.” Personally, I never want to hear those two words again.
Everyone I talk to is saying the same thing I say when asked how I’m doing right now: “I have my good days and my bad days.” But you know what? I don’t believe it. I think a lot of people are hurting. A lot of people are trying to remain positive during one of the hardest times of their life because they don’t want others to know that there is something bad, something hard going on in their lives.
And even though we all are going through the same or similar thing(s) right now, they don’t like to talk about it. Why? Because people are afraid to hear bad things. They’re afraid to hear bad news, and they are afraid that if you tell them your troubles, they might have to feel something they don’t like or do something they don’t want to do.
And that’s why so many throw out trite responses during times of sadness, grief, or depression. It gives them an out of having to feel sadness, depression, or grief and it makes them feel good to say something they think is encouraging.
Some of these phrases are ones you’ve probably heard many times:
“Good things come to those who wait!”
“Just be happy!”
“When you think positive, good things happen!”
“Expect good things to happen!”
While it is nice to think those things, we are not guaranteed to have “good things” happen. This is life. It’s the real deal. Real life doesn’t care what you think. You could have the perfect plan and do all the right things, and bad things could still happen. Life still happens.
Does this mean I hate positivity? Absolutely not!
I think when people talk about positivity they think they mean encouragement. And while many people use these two words in the same way, they actually have very different meanings.
Positivity is “The practice of being or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude.” “Encouragement is the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.”
So while positivity is not necessarily a bad thing, it sets us up for failure in many ways. Because when life gets you down – and it will – positivity does not give us the necessary means to pick ourselves back up again.
So what does?
Encouragement. While the dictionary defines encouragement as “the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope” I think it can also be said that encouragement is the receiving of support, confidence, and hope from others.
Some may find encouragement in the Bible or prayer, others may find it through music or something they read, but I think most of us agree that one of the best kinds of encouragement is when someone comes beside us and says,
“I’m here for you.”
“It’s okay to be angry.”
“It’s okay to grieve.”
“You’re not alone.”
It’s the “support, confidence, and hope” that just one person may give that can change the course of a day or even a life.
So I say all that to say this:
It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to grieve the loss of normalcy, to grieve what is happening and how it is affecting your family. It’s okay to mourn. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to tell someone you’re not okay, or you’re having a bad day.
Because whether you believe in the Bible or not, I think everyone can agree that there is a time and place for everything; even grieving.
So right now I am giving you permission to do two things:
Because believe it or not, you can do both at the same time. You can share your grief with others and encourage them as well. You can share your story because it’s your story and no one else in the world has one like you. You can encourage others with words of hope and support. You can tell them that you are hurting just like they are.
Because when the time for grieving and sadness is over. Someone will remember your story. They will remember your encouragement. They will remember that it was okay to grieve because you were grieving too.
And they will smile. And they will have hope. And yes, they will have positivity once again.