Life is Real

“We live in the real world.”

The words quickly spilled out of my mouth and put an abrupt end to the conversation that was raising anxiety and tension within my body. defines the real world as the place in which one must actually live and the circumstances with which one must deal. An example of the real world is the life you are living right now, as opposed to the life you wish to live some day.

Yep. That was exactly the message that I wanted to portray. It was the answer that set me apart. It excused the decisions that were being called into question. It was my justification and it shone a bright light on the contempt and shame that was rising as I compared my life to someone else. Ugh!

The assumption I hold that someone else does not live in the real world keeps me alone, isolated and empty. It shuts down my curiosity and my tenderness, two of the very things that make me lovely.

I heard stories this week that while breaking my heart, offered a hope and a realization that I am not alone. They were the stories that you don’t see when you only look on the surface. Stories, whether shared or kept private effect each and every person walking the earth on a moment by moment basis.

I find it easy to become so narrow minded with the struggles that my family faces that looking beyond the four walls of my house does not even cross my mind at times. I hold an awareness that the stories that fill my news feed on facebook or scroll across an internet home page are filled with real life scenarios but when there is no personal relationship, the impact does not hold a place in my heart for very long.

This week however, when I wasn’t even looking, people began to share their stories with me. I met a family, whose son is becoming one of my son’s new friends, who are navigating the unknown waters of beginning school while their 5 year old has genetic disease which is affecting his body. A friend shared a story of another little girl who is also in his class that is having a hard time adjusting while her brother battles with cancer. As the week progressed, I enjoyed meals with friends that shared their hearts about struggles with the church and the impact it was having on their children. There were stories of stressful jobs, broken relationships, lost hope, and missed opportunities. These are the stories that walk among us. They are always there. These stories and the people who carry them are inviting me to shift my eyes from my world and look outside.

Beyond the life that we wish to live some day, we all are faced with the reality that we live in a fallen world. The hope that resides in those of us who know Jesus is a reality that we can only imagine as we look forward to the day that the suffering and pain will end, forever. In 2 Corinthians, we read, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen but the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

This song by Sarah Groves has been a sweet anthem this week, as she gently and reassuringly sings that “it’s gonna be alright” to each of these difficult yet “momentary” sufferings.

It’s gonna to be alright It’s gonna to be alright

I can tell by your eyes that you’re not getting any sleep
And you try to rise above but feel you’re sinking in too deep Oh, oh I believe, I believe that

It’s gonna to be alright It’s gonna to be alright

I believe you’ll outlive this pain in your heart
And you’ll gain such a strength from what is tearing you apart Oh, oh I believe, I believe that

It’s gonna to be alright It’s gonna to be alright

When some time has passed us, and the story can be told It will mirror the strength and the courage of your soul
Oh, oh I believe, I believe

I believe I believe

I did not come here to offer you cliche’s
And I will not pretend to know of all your pain
Just when you cannot, then I will hold out faith, for you

It’s gonna to be alright It’s gonna to be alright

We’re gonna be alright It’s gonna be alright

Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys.  A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here.