I LOVE when I am successful at sneaking down the old creaking wood stairs, get my “mom juice” in, have a great 20-30 minute sweat sesh… and still hear no pitter patter of tiny feet coming to join me.  Now don’t get me wrong.  When this quiet time does get interrupted, I feel blessed with the morning hug I get to give (all sweaty) and possibly a mini workout partner joining me.  But the times when I complete a workout and collapse on the floor… without having to jump right up to get someone a drink of water, pour a bowl of cereal, or help find a favorite blanket to cuddle on the couch… allow some after sweat reflection.

As I sunk into the floor this morning, legs trembling from the weights, I closed my eyes.  I said to myself, tears wanting to form, “Man.  I’ve been through some stuff.”

I’m not sure if anyone else notices this, but good, hard workout sessions often allow me to feel more emotions that I might otherwise be pushing down.  It’s as if those stresses seem to pour out of the sweat.  Sometimes I cry, sometimes this is the perfect time for God to speak to me, sometimes I become overwhelmed with gratitude.

So as I started reflecting on the “stuff” I’ve been through, wanting to tear up and wallow in it a little, and thought how nobody else could even imagine what it was like, I stopped myself.  Yes, I’ve been through some stuff.  My husband has been through stuff.  My family has been through stuff.  EVERYBODY has been through stuff.

You know what I’ve learned?  Don’t compare your stuff to someone else’s stuff.  It’s easy to look at our stuff and feel alone, think nobody could handle the stuff you’ve been through.  It’s also sometimes easy to feel guilty struggling with your stuff, telling yourself it’s not as bad as someone else’s stuff so why is it so hard for you?

It’s not about who’s stuff is worse or easier.  It’s what you do with that stuff.

Stuff: current or past struggles, emotions, trauma, pain you have been through that seems so hard to get past…  it’s like a weighted blanket sometimes that nobody else sees.  It hovers over us as we go through our day and try to ignore it.  It holds us back.

I don’t think God wants us suffocating under our blanket of stuff.  He CREATED each of us for a PURPOSE.  Yes, there will be stuff.  There will be struggle.  But he didn’t create us to be held down by the weight of our stuff.  In fact, I think he’s under that blanket with us, waiting for us to realize that if we grab onto His hand, we will be strong enough to tear that blanket off.  Even if we tear it apart one thread at a time.  I think He’s waiting for us to realize there are beautiful things waiting for us once we get that blanket off our eyes.

The stuff doesn’t have to define our lives.  Our circumstances don’t get to tell us if we find joy, purpose, and meaning in life.  We are the ones who decide that.  Our past hurts don’t have to weigh us down forever.  Because God needs us to tear off that blanket and live out the most amazing life He created us for… despite that stuff.  Because we all have stuff.  But we were also all created specifically for a reason.

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