Do you know that feeling you get when you realize that it’s the anniversary of something truly insane that happened to you, and you look back and think: Whoa, I survived THAT?

A year ago we were going through a lot collectively, with the pandemic and the politics and the massive injustices and tragedies involved.

And on a micro level, this was a tough time for our household.

Last spring, I was 8 months pregnant and 100% terrified to labor again. (There was some big-time physical trauma at my first birth.)

Then our toddler tripped and sustained a break to her right foot. She was in a cast for a month and couldn’t walk. Then I sprained my own right foot, for no discernible reason.

Then I gave birth to our baby girl. I was enchanted with her, but I’d been exhausted for months, and waking up every few hours was grueling. Plus, I was still trying to be present to our toddler, who was relearning to walk and wanted her mommy.

A week after I gave birth, my parents and brother visited. Within the first hour, Willie punched a hole through a wall in our house.

Two weeks after that, my husband had a health crisis and needed emergency care.

Then our good friends and neighbors moved away.

Then the trusted, about-my-age therapist I’d seen on and off for years died suddenly.

Then our little family got a series of sicknesses, including Hand, Foot, and Mouth for the toddler and stomach flu for me.

All of this happened in less than six months. So naturally, I wondered if I’d accidentally triggered an ancient curse of the pharaohs, like people are always doing in the movies.

When life had regained enough stability for me to read books, I picked up Jenny Lawson’s book Broken (in the best possible way).

In the chapter of most embarrassing moments, I read this from Glenna Ranieri:

“Nanny job interview; was told job would involve light housekeeping.
Replied, “I’ve never kept a Lighthouse before but [I’m] willing to try.”

Do you know the kind of laughter that’s so intense it hurts? That’s how I laughed, cried, and snorted. She’d never kept a Lighthouse before! But she was willing to TRY!

So here’s what I’m wondering …

Is that you?

Are you the one who says Yes to your relationships or your job or your parenting, even though it’s so much harder than you imagined?

Are you someone who says, “I’ve never done that before, but I’m willing to try” …?

If so, I respect you so much.
There is so much beauty in your willingness to try.
Even – and especially – when your life is very hard, and you have no idea why.

During that crazy time last year, I kept wondering what it all MEANT. I waited for an explanation. I wanted a clear purpose for all of the pain.

But even now, I don’t have an answer. I have no clue why it happened that way.

And I’ve come to a kind of peace with that.
I may not ever know what it meant.
But I am really proud that I survived it.

And I am really proud of you, too.
You have made it this far.
You have survived a lot already.

You’ve been through some truly insane storms, with no breathing room for recovery before the next wave hit. Times when all you could do was hang on tight.

And even when the water calms, it’s still a big deal just being human. You have never been here in this specific body, keeping this particular “lighthouse” before. But you’ve been willing to try.

And to quote Heather Havrilesky,

“…nothing is more precious than someone who is broken and afraid but still willing.”

Is that you, dear heart?

Are you the one who is broken and afraid, but still willing … to dream, to plan, to build something new?

If so, then please hit reply and respond to the questions from Tuesday’s email

What would you do if you didn’t feel guilty?
What would you do if no one would be mad at you?
What would you do if you were truly FREE?

If you haven’t already, please hit reply by tomorrow (Friday August 12th). It’s important to me to hear your answers. Once I learn more about what you’re dealing with, I’ll create something new to help.

The lighthouse within me recognizes and honors the lighthouse within you,

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  1. Renee May 31, 2023 at 3:50 PM - Reply

    Dearest Caroline,

    Oh, boy, I can feel the reeling sensation you must have felt when all of those challenges were rocking your life. My own life has had its share of dramatic highs and lows recently and I sometimes wonder about the meaning behind it all, but then I realize, at least for me, it is likely spiritual growth, whether I like it or not. I came across a lovely poem by Tara Mohr called “Even In the Struggle,” that has helped me through some rough times. Its message feels spiritual to me, and perhaps it will also help another.

    • Caroline McGraw June 2, 2023 at 1:10 PM - Reply

      Oh my goodness, Renee. Thank you so much for sharing this. It came at just the right time. And while I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been through the wringer as well, know that you aren’t alone; I’m right there with you in the refining fire. Thank you for gifting us these lines …

      “The secret is, it’s all love. / It’s all doorways to truth. / It’s all opportunity to merge with what is.” – Tara Mohr

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