I got an unexpected call the other day. A friend and former colleague called to tell me some extremely upsetting news about a former student. It was the kind of news that causes your heart to ache. The kind of news that makes you stop and immediately start praying. Praying for healing, for comfort, and for positive outcomes. The kind of news that doesn’t leave you.
Days later, impatiently waiting for new information, I messaged my friend and asked if there were any updates. No news. No updates. I prayed again. After a few texts back and forth my friend said, “I have no idea how this family is functioning.” My reply: “Faith, denial, and the support of those that love them. It’s how anyone gets through something incomprehensible.”
I was the one that wrote those words, but they hit me just as hard as they hit him. It was a response I hadn’t rehearsed or planned. It came straight from my heart. It came straight from the truth and reality of all the incomprehensible things I’ve been through in life.
“Faith, denial, and the support of those that love them.” It’s truly a mixture of all of those things that allow people to make it through the most difficult of times. If I had to tell someone in the midst of an inexplicable situation what will show up in their survival kit, it would be those three things.
The support of those that love you.
Faith provides the hopeful trust that things will work out for the best. Faith allows you to see beyond the struggle. It allows you to see beyond the hardship and into the future, where things are good. Where things are ok. Where things work out. Faith provides you the ability to keep breathing and keep going. Faith gives you confidence for amazing expectations.
Denial wanders in to protect your heart and soul. You don’t pursue it, it finds you. It shields your heart from pain and refuses your brain the opportunity to accept anything other than the outcome you’re wishing for. Denial is the inability to accept that things won’t go smoothly. Denial refuses to accept anything other than the future you want and need, no matter the circumstance.
And at the end of the day, whether you are encompassed primarily by faith or by denial, you survive with the love and comfort of those around you. The ones that show up, without being asked. The ones that wrap you in love, ready and willing to take care of you. They are your biggest asset in difficult times. Your support system. Your lifelines. The people that come to help alleviate the pain, minimize the stress, and remove the immense responsibility. They work to ease your fears, listen to your emotion, and tell you everything will be ok. Even if it won’t, especially if it will, and even when they have absolutely no clue what the outcome will be.
So, how do people get through things that are incomprehensible? A massive amount of faith, a dash of denial, and with the unconditional support of those that love them. That’s how.
At least that’s how it’s been for me.
A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.