Where I used to only see darkness setting in, I began to see color and love.

“But you always seem to be smiling so much and seem so happy,” an old friend said the other day.

​It took me by surprise. That’s what I always think about other people.

​​If she only knew about the heartache, the pain, the seemingly neverending sobbing, the hungerless days, the very deep and dark days and the days that I’d rather forget.

​​Sometimes when people ask us how we are doing, we just smile.

​​The truth is we have all gone through, are going through or will be going through really hard times.

​​I know what it’s like to feel like you’re at the bottom of a well and can’t even see the top. All you can see is the walls around you. All you can feel is the darkness, the overwhelming weight that seems to be crushing you, drowning you and choking you.​​

I know what it’s like to feel the lump in your throat that doesn’t seem to go away no matter how many times you swallow. ​​I know that feeling in your stomach that feels like you could vomit any second and that crippling fear that something horrible is going to happen to you and there’s nothing you can do about it. You just don’t know what to do.​​

I know the feeling of watching a loved one with tubes coming out of everywhere in their body and you watch helplessly because there’s nothing you can do no matter how much you want to do something.​​

I know what it’s like to feel like time should stand still but instead keeps going.

​​I know about that critical voice that says you can fool everyone into thinking you are a good person but you are not. This one dark cloud overshadows all the good you can do. You will never overcome this so why even try.​​

I know that nagging, constant feeling that says I’m not doing enough. ​​The critical voice that says you should be doing something productive right now, you should be cleaning, you should be organizing or doing laundry. ​You should be doing more for your kids, you should do more for yourself and others.

​​You start thinking nobody cares. No one sends you a message to check on you or encourage you like you try to do to others. You have isolated yourself from anyone and now you have no one.

​​Our thoughts and emotions start piling up on us crushing us down. We start feeling guilty about things that are not our fault or we start shaming ourselves for not reacting in a different way or for not defending ourselves​​.

We ask, “How did I get here?” ​

In an instant that overwhelming feeling can come over and everything starts seeming dark. ​​In a blink, there you are below the heavyweight of shame, guilt, helplessness, and hopelessness. It seems there is no way out.​​

Sometimes because of our circumstances, our emotions, thoughts and our tiredness we can feel like we are alone. ​​We then isolate thinking no one else understands or will understand and no one cares. ​​

I want you to know that behind my smile I also have felt and experienced so much that you don’t always see. ​​

I also want you to know that during some of the hardest times of my life, I experienced genuine love from so many people, even strangers, encouraging me, showing kindness and holding me up in prayer.​​

The most important lesson I learned during the worst time of my life was that we are not alone.​​

There have been many days when if it wasn’t for my faith in God and the people who came to carry me through when I finally reached out for help, I don’t think I could have made it.

​​As I considered what was weighing heavy on my heart, I realized that to my right could be a person who just lost a relative, or to my left, someone who just found out their cancer returned or someone who just watched someone die. We are all going through something. I still keep in my prayers all those people who at this very moment are sitting in an ICU waiting room. I have so much compassion for them now.

​​As I continue to go through difficult things that continue to challenge my faith and my trust in a Good God, I try to remember that I am not alone in going through hard scary things.

We can all relate to our humanness and experiencing similar events or situations. ​​

We are emotional creatures. We have to stop shaming ourselves for feeling a certain way. Not everything I have felt was the truth but I did feel it.​

We need to reach out, share and ask for help. It’s what we do with our emotions that is important. ​​

I was feeling lonely today. It’s so easy for loneliness to creep in.​

When I feel alone, I’ve learned to reach out to see if anyone else needs encouragement and let them know they aren’t alone.

​​Please reach up and reach out.​​

Don’t give up.​​

You are not alone.​​

God wants to lift our weight.

I cried out, “Jesus help me,” and he came and lifted my weight.

​I said, “God I need a friend,” and he brought many.​

I said, “God I feel so lost and hopeless,” and he put his arms around me and let me feel His love.

​​I learned to not be afraid of my emotions. I learned to share with others and have been so overwhelmed with the number of how many people care and also with the number of how many feel like they are alone. ​​

I saw a beauty in the countless people that gathered to pray for me, the number of people that reached out and were there for me without even knowing me. ​​

Where I used to only see darkness setting in, I began to see color and love.

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