I’m inspired and invigorated; and indecently ambitious to use that inspiration and invigoration to see the colorful as more vibrant, the truth as more wonderful, the creative as more intelligent, the loving heart as most to be coveted, and the hopeful as the wisest. In short, I want to live this uncertain life as fully optimistic as possible.

That sounds impossible. It sounds impossible because all earthly beauty is tarnished. Destruction has overtaken the world and it is impossible to ignore. We all have an idea of destruction>> Wars, Natural Disasters; evil men in Third World Countries; pimps shipping innocent girls to America to make money; people living on the streets freezing to death because their house was taken from them; Nazism, Genocide, Communism>> you name it, we’ve got it. Even I am thinking, how can I be an activist for optimism when billions of people are living under oppression and depression; when every time I look up, I see more people who will die, have died, or are dying?

It is because we can’t avoid it. However hard Christians or New-Ageists or Politicians or just plain Americans may try, pain and suffering will never be avoided or disappear until Jesus Christ returns. Until then, we’re stuck with it.

We must learn to live the sadness equally as deeply as we live the happiness. If we leave one out, we do not know the other. And, if we leave both out, we know the world not at all.

I have found that the only way to truly realize this is to come to a place of vulnerability. Vulnerability is, for most of us, one of the hardest places to willingly go. Every single person has something they are hiding. Undoubtedly, pain is hidden more regularly than anything else a human has. Because we hide it, it is easy to let sadness become anger by pushing pain deeper and deeper into ourselves. This is not healthy, first of all, and it will never be fulfilling. I know from experience.

Last year, I was (almost on schedule) hurt pretty deeply by four different experiences. In addition to this, last year was my first Christmas working retail (if anyone is wondering, Christian retail is absolutely no different than “normal” retail; the only difference is that you witness rude people buying Bibles), and there were some other pretty emotionally hefty trials God put me through. I was a mess. Angry and cold, I would storm out the door, put on a smiling face for people who I didn’t know, come back home, and hide from my family. Then my golden opportunity came. I moved back to Southern California, came back to an amazing church, made new friends, and started to be successful at school again. Things looked different, I was blessed with a wonderful atmosphere change, and my numb heart revived. It still hasn’t been an easy few months. Tears have been shed and it’s been a lot of hard work. But I have started to notice that I am feeling deeper than I ever had before. And I truly believe it is because of the amount of pain I went through last year.

Now that I am back in Washington, it is easy to find things to be angry about since there are so many reminders of last year. I yell at drivers more (because, goodness! People drive slow here!) and I just worked retail during Christmas again, which at a Christian bookstore, is emotionally taxing; I’m again seeing the people who have cost me tears; it’s cold here, and below freezing has never meant happy Aubry. I have to be careful, because if I’m not, I could end up right where I was last January. But I’m really not complaining. Through the pain, I have experienced God’s love like nothing else. The more pain I have, the more I feel God’s love. And that is pretty spectacular.

To be honest, there will always be more pain to be found. (NEWS FLASH, no one year will ever be perfect.) Instead of being angry about it, I want to use it to help others. And I think I have discovered the first step in that endeavor.

Like I said above, if we don’t understand pain, we won’t understand happiness, and vice versa. When I am hurt, my goal is to let it penetrate me deeper. Instead of covering it up, my desire is to almost seep with it>> to cry and be okay with that. And then, when I see a breathtaking sunset or have a wonderful conversation with a dear friend or pray to my awesome Creator or just simply sit by the fire with a cup of tea, I will let myself be filled with the good things as well. Imagine if we let ourselves go deeper in both directions! Would it not be easier to turn the other cheek, or to have compassion?

I want to love and hope and pray and speak and forgive. I want to have deeper faith in God. I want to have compassion for everyone. I want people to see a depth in me that wasn’t there before. I want to live fully. I want to notice the little things and praise God for the big things. And I want to feel, I want to feel with a depth of character and a depth of emotions; not in an easy sense, but in a full sense.

On that note, I’ll end this post. Thank you everyone for reading!

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