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How to Find Meaning and Hope When Life Sucks

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Impressed series. Be sure to follow the rest of the series HERE.

Here I am in Sacramento. Andrew and I have just moved here. I am calling this our adventure. But inside I am totally losing it.

I have no idea who I am and what I’m doing. I’m a few months away from turning 30 and this is the biggest move I’ve ever made. What is most pathetic is I don’t even have to switch highways to get back to my hometown.

Two and a half hours feels like another world and I’m not sure I want another world. Dying in the place you were born without ever living somewhere else seems a little depressing—especially if that place is Fresno. But still, this wasn’t my plan and worse yet, I actually have no plan for this new adventure.

So I do what I normally do: I overeat, watch too many episodes of something, and then I get in the bath with a new book.

“Almost everyone had at one time or another been exposed to the world as being flawed, and human. And that it was good, for the development of character and empathy, for the growth of the spirit. Periods in the wilderness or desert were not lost time. You might find life, wildflowers, fossils, sources of water.”

So here I am in my wilderness. It’s not vast or open. It’s loud and dirty and beautiful in it’s own gentrified way. Stitches came into my life at just the right time: almost a year after my miscarriage.

I don’t really want to talk about it, but thanks for asking.

That is meant to be funny, so it’s ok to smile. If there is anything I’ve learned from reading Stitches, it’s that I get to laugh and make jokes when I want to, because this grief is mine

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and I get to handle it or not handle it, however I want. So nan-er-nan-er.

I thought this was the year I would be figuring out how a newborn works. Instead it’s been a year of career steps backward, questioning my calling, searching for meaning and rethinking what I know and what I believe.

“I started to discover who I had been born to be, instead of the impossibly small package, all tied up tightly in myself, that I had agreed to be.”

I thought this was the year I would be figuring out how a newborn works. Instead it’s been a year of career steps backward, questioning my calling, searching for meaning and rethinking what I know and what I believe. And there is no one else I would rather do that with than Anne Lamott.

Imagine Anne as your cool, hippie Aunt from the city. You know, the one your mom doesn’t want you talking to about sex. She’s safe—someone who is comfortable with your questioning. As I’ve heard Brene Brown say, someone who is willing to sit in the darkness with you without turning on the light.

And that’s what Stitches is like. It’s like sitting in a sunroom at 2am on a moonless night. It’s dark and scary, but also small and safe. Then slowly, the sun comes up and the world lights up for you.

If you have found yourself questioning and arguing with God, wrestling personally with the pain and general unfairness of this world, then you need to read this book.

“Beauty is a miracle of things going together imperfectly.”

Sometimes I read something and it’s completely exterior. I highlight. I underline. I might even say out loud, “well done.” I’ve been known to fist pump or yell, “holler” when an author just impresses me with their skill. Then there is something else. When it feels like you’re reading something from the inside, as if your soul has known the truth somewhere deep in the recesses of your subconscious and God has used a willing author to call it forth from within you. When I read Anne Lamott, her words become my words. They aren’t exterior, they are somewhere inside of me. They are our words. Our experiences. Anne’s grief is my grief. We may have experienced different kinds of loss, different questioning and struggles, but all of those result in

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the same thing: “empathy and growth of spirit”.

What impresses me most about Anne is that she doesn’t try to white wash pain. Does it still suck that I had a miscarriage? Yes. Have I found some magical, spiritual meaning in it that makes it worth it? No. It’s hard. It’s painful. It sucks. I don’t get it. I trust God. I love Him, but this still sucks. Has it made me better? I hope so. I hope it has. I hope I’ve grown closer to God and become more of what He wants me to be. Would I take that baby instead of it? In a freaking heartbeat. And that’s the thing. Anne doesn’t try to make it ok or tell you all of the reasons why you should be thankful for it. She just says it’s here. It’s a part of life. And given the option, I want life. All of it. The good and the bad. Even this pain. Because life in and of itself, our existence, our going forward, that is beautiful. It is a freaking mess, but it is beautiful.

“Beauty is a miracle of things going together imperfectly.”

And it is, Anne, it really is.

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photo credit


Cambria Belleci

About

Cambria Belleci is the Connections Director at The Well Community Church where she helps people find a place to belong. She is married to Andrew Belleci; together they share a home in Fresno, CA and an unhealthy obsession with their dog, Cosmo. Cambria is passionate about showing up—about being present and seeing the gospel played out in everyday life. She has a lot of words and loves to write and speak. Cambria is still not sure who is more important to please: Jesus or her Armenian Grandmothers. She figures it out here at Self Talk the Gospel and regularly at cambriajune.com.


  • Molly DeFrank

    Oh, Cam. This is so real and raw and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    David and I uprooted everything and moved from Sac to Fresno three years ago (kind of the opposite of you guys), and I can absolutely relate to your feelings. I had some dark days that felt painful and pointless and like they’d never end. A lot of the “encouraging” words spoken to me then felt contrived and meaningless. But now I take heart every time I meet someone “randomly” who has just moved to Fresno and has no friends, because I’ve been there. That’s when I see this come to life: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor 1:3-4)

    Anyway, I hope the sun comes up in that dark sunroom soon. And in the interim, bubble baths and books sound pretty awesome.

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