Have you ever had a friend whose words you continue to slurp up and soak up and muse over, hours, days and years later?
Holly and I met in Santa Cruz. Single and ready to mingle, we were both teachers by day and friend-seeking hot chocolate with extra whipped cream drinkers by night. She was my older, wiser friend who wore mismatched socks and listened – really listened – when you talked, inviting you to go first and share all facets of your life: job, boys, church, boys, social life, boys …etcetera, etcetera.
So I don’t know where we were when she first christened my mind with the concept of hard-good, but it stuck. Because life, Care – she’d always call me “Care,” dropping the “a” at the end in nicknamed endearment – is always good, even if it’s hard-good sometimes. I’m sure I nodded my head then like I’m doing now: yes, yes, yes.
I’m sure I also thought of my present problems (as I’m thinking of Present Problems now) and thought, yes, that’s true and that’s Truth. Because for whatever reason, this simple both-and, this simultaneous, messy holding of good and hard, pain and redemption, made sense.
As you may know, it’s Input Month in our little neck of the woods. I’ve been soaking in baby and learning how to juggle two little ones, seeking to rest and breathe and be, watching as many episodes of Gilmore Girls at two in the morning as I can, because I can.
But I’ve also been doing my fair share of reading, and Kara Tippetts’ The Hardest Peace speaks to this idea of good-hard: “But the redemption of my hard yesterdays,” writes Tippetts, “gives me a softened heart to walk in my tomorrows” (35). She has a very different way of telling her very real version of living with Stage IV cancer, alongside her husband and four children. I’ll be honest: it’s a hard story to read sometimes, and entering into pain isn’t always my first choice of literature (or of life for that matter, let’s be honest).
But she doesn’t leave us hanging, because instead she hopes. She lives and breathes and clings to Hope for really, it’s all we have left at the end of the day. And just like Holly, the pages utter wisdom-filled words of truth that the reader will continue to hold on to hours and days and years later. “Remember,” she writes near the end, “beauty, not pretty” (117).
Beauty, not pretty.
Yes, yes, yes.
Because this beauty, this hard-good in the midst of the ordinary everyday, is what we lean into when we embrace that stunning mess called life. It may not be what I always choose, but it is what I get to live.
And that, I’d say, is a good thing.
I’m giving away TWO copies of Kara Tippetts’ The Hardest Peace, sponsored by Litfuse Publicity Group. Simply leave a comment below! Winners announced on Friday, October 31st.0