What is the hardest thing that you have ever done? I once tried to answer this question. I think it’s obviously motherhood, but since that is never “done” it feels like a misnomer. There are plenty of hours left that will fluctuate between failure and triumph on this thing that feels like an endurance triathlon. My strength gives out, but I find a hand reaching down to pull me out of waist-deep mud: another competitor in the hardest-thing-you’ve-ever-done race, willing to share my struggle so that we can both make it through another hour.
I attest that this is the heart of all triumph; I am a badass, home-birthing mother of four: couldn’t have done it without my husband, his faith in me, his strength and love: my mother-in-law, supporting my living children so that I could focus on the ones I was pulling from the birth water: my sister, holding my hand as I laboured, representing our shared history, our shared future, validating my heart for all it knows and feels.
Maybe that is the hardest thing we'll ever do; allowing that hand to pull us out of the mud. Or taking command when we recognize there is a loss of offered hands and resorting to shouting from the mud, “Fuck! I’m stuck! I need somebody to pull me out!” How are we to know that anyone will offer a hand? It’s a moral struggle, that inability to thrive in a given situation and that hope that someone has got to give a damn.
Spirituality calls upon an almighty. We were never intended to make it alone. We can’t. We need a savior. If there is not a tangible hand to grasp onto amid the hardest thing you have ever done, you have forgotten god. Usually, a “He” has been there all along but you just had to trust that help would be provided if you went through this third party first. “He” is like a broker that can distribute the goods if you will invest in “Him”.
I think it’s okay to acknowledge this mode of thinking; this belief, and use it to your own advantage. Yes, we are not complete. We are not perfect or able to do it all alone. Here are other humans. Here, even, is a god that looks like a human, to wean you off the idea that you can do it alone. This is Jesus. He is a dude. But look how if you put your faith into fellow humans, you can do hard things! Call it a miracle if you want to, or an example that you can use to love your neighbor, and in doing so, love yourself.
I want to meet “god” or “spirituality” on a two-part exchange. I know the bible says it can’t be done, but maybe that’s open to interpretation. “God” is my neighbor, the one that I have to trust will pull me from my muck. I can no better trust without fear of rejection, that an invisible deity will save me, than a flesh and blood relatable human walking the same earth. I feel more compelled to ask this fallible human, with a face, and a reality that won’t be encrypted in forgotten customs and misinterpreted languages.
The hardest thing I have ever done in this respect is trusted that I can meet god in the eyes of people on this earth. I have lived through abandonment and struggled with self-doubt. I have walked in shoes that I didn’t feel I deserved to fill. I have made the mistake of believing that I was better than other people, lost in a facade where no one could understand my tiny, complicated world. But I experience freedom from all of that when I connect with another person. I trust that life is cruel and wonderful, that every unique person has a story unparalleled and that this life has prepared each of us to assist someone else who is struggling.
Perhaps the hardest thing, before we can cultivate trust in our fellow humans, is the hell of going inside; pulling up that hardship that you faced; using how the cruel world molded you to fit the missing piece of someone’s solace. This is a daily hell because all of us have experienced pain and sadness. I struggle still to offer my hardships as pieces to other’s triumphs. I reflect on a world where terrible things have marred our existence. We are only human, and it is reliable that we will fail to extend that hand, or fail to find the courage to grasp the hand that is extended.
I know that god is in each one of us. If I fail to acknowledge that; If I forget that I am worthy of meeting that god in other people, I will continue trying to do the hardest things on my own, and never succeed. Sharing the struggle is real. And sharing the triumph is the greatest thing I have ever done.