I heard someone recently complain about Ensign articles, that they don't address difficulty or pain until it's over. It's not genuine enough, they said.

On this blog, I have tried to expose my pain even though it's not over. I know that there is something about knowing that other people are going through the same feelings you are that is infinitely validating. It helps someone who has every reason to doubt themselves feel a little less crazy, a little less disgusting, and a little more full of potential. There isn't enough conversation out there that validates pain without celebrating it. And yes, by doing so I've opened myself up to immense criticism. (Which is why I have an approval-only policy for comments here, despite my natural inclination to provide an open forum.) It's been very hard for someone like me, who cares so much about what people think.

My skin has been toughened, but not tough enough yet. When I lose sleep or live under stress, I shatter like ill-tempered glass. And it hurts so much. Thinking hurts. Trying to do better hurts. Some days, I'm so tired that I just want to lay down and call it quits. But there is something about a blog kind of forum that makes this kind of sharing a little easier. I can lay the dark places in my heart out in the hopes that it might help someone not feel so alone without letting the jackals tear at my already wounded heart.

Of course, the dark places are not all I have, I have fought unimaginably hard to fill up the cracks in my soul with light as much as possible. Even though it feels like a losing battle some days. I can't explain how much joy it gives me to see the clouds lit by morning light. Or the fact that my mint plant is putting out tiny little leaves, even though I have cut it back for winter. Or that my beautiful child writes me a love note. My thirsty soul soaks up these things.

I was criticized very harshly for my last two posts. I know those posts come from a place of darkness. And I get that for some people, attacking those who speak of difficult things is all they have.

But is necessary for me to dive into that darkness and pain, to tease out every frayed thread in order to both understand myself, understand my God, and hopefully help others do the same. Even though every person's experience is unique, if I can map some of the territory of grief and fear, others who follow can shed light on even more of it, and maybe not stumble so much while they navigate their own valley of sorrow. And maybe what I'm feeling, what my life has become, will have some good purpose.

Maybe those who are not called to walk that territory will be able to see just a small part of it, and see their way clear to not cast stones or throw up stumbling blocks for the brokenhearted.

There is nothing wrong with stories that end in joy or hope. For many people, they need to hear that in order to bear their present. But others want to hear that their pain is real, not have it whisked away by happy endings. Life is pain. And joy. And sorrow. Sometimes, there is nothing left to fight the darkness but to recognize that it IS dark. And when the Light comes, we are better able to value it, to recognize it, because we have faced the dark.

I get it, you hurt. Come, let me offer you a glass of water, a tissue, and a shoulder that has carried its own burdens. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Come, bring your sorrows and your joy. Drink deeply with me of the fount of Living Water and be healed.

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