Remember that time when you told me something hard was coming? That it wasn’t necessarily bad, but hard? I tucked that warning away. I waited. But how does one prepare for hard? So I went about my business.
And then the first hard thing happened. It was hard but not hard enough for me to remember the warning. And I kind of expected it to be hard, so I went on. Then the next hard thing arrived. This seemed really hard. I remembered the warning, and I thought, “Surely—this is the thing!” I tried to stay positive and look outward as I worried that that hard thing might kill me. It didn’t. But sometimes, I wished it did. Doctors didn’t give certainty about the second hard thing but they did give treatment that worked. And I got good at waiting in the dark. But the first hard thing was getting harder.
Because I knew how to work, I got busy trying to work on the first hard thing. I gave myself another hard thing to do. It was hard, but because I chose it and because it made me feel smart and accomplished, I happily buried myself in it. The third hard thing gave me gave me some confidence I needed that helped me endure the first hard thing.
I thought it would get easier, but the first hard thing continued to be hard. I felt it slowly chipping away at my soul. I could ignore that feeling most of the time because I stayed busy with the third hard thing, that wasn’t really so hard anymore.
Then the fourth hard thing came. This was hard, but again, I had chosen it, and it was delightful and felt like being alive for the first time in some ways. The fourth hard thing, joyous as it was, brought on the fifth hard thing, which was really the first hard thing that had never really gone away.
The fifth hard thing was realizing that the first hard thing had not gotten any better and had actually become worse. It was realizing that the survival of my soul depended on escape from the first hard thing. And so the fifth hard thing was the undoing of the first hard thing.
I thought after I got through the fifth hard thing, I might be free from hard things, at least for a while. But that’s the thing about hard things, they change a person. And I realized that the first five hard things had set me up perfectly for the sixth hard thing. The sixth was exquisite because in some ways I chose it, but more accurately, I could not turn away from it after so many hard things. And it’s not over. I can’t help but wonder, when does the floor stop giving way beneath me? Where’s the bottom of this thing?