We're going on a Lion Hunt! (We're going on a lion hunt!) We're not scared! (We're not scared!) Look what's up ahead! Tall grass! Can't go over it. Can't go under it. Can't go around it. Gotta go through it. Swish, swish, swish.
"Going on a Lion Hunt" is still a favorite story of mine; it's rhythmic and suspenseful and fun. But now, as an adult, it is also my mantra: what I whisper to myself when I feel the tendrils of despair start to curl around my heart.
All of my favorite people have been through some stuff - terrible, awful, heartbreaking stuff. I'm proved right every time I meet a new person whom I instantly like; the more I get to know them, the more I learn about the stuff they've been through: chronic illnesses, serious depression, betrayals, affairs, ugly divorces, deaths of children, addiction, cancer.
I like them, I've learned, because those terrible circumstances create something beautiful inside of us. Something precious is forged in our hearts as we walk through the difficult, painful places. The gauntlet strips off pretension, pride, insincerity, piousness, and anything false. Underneath we find gentleness, humility, wisdom, compassion, bravery, and indomitable strength. Refined by fire, the Bible calls it, burning off the dross, leaving the gold.
There are no shortcuts to that beautiful, beautiful countenance. You have to go through some stuff to get there.
Just like there is no shortcut to a baby; you have to go through labor, and morning sickness.
Just like there is no shortcut to a Thanksgiving table full of well-adjusted grown-up children; you have to go through the Terrible 2's.
There is no shortcut to seasoned love; you have to go through the fights - all of them - no giving up.
There is no shortcut to forgiveness; you have to feel the pain to get to the other side.
There is no shortcut to health; you have to trudge through the pain, the meds, the therapy.
There is no shortcut to healing, to moving on, after a catastrophic loss; you just have to keep walking through.
When it comes to the tough stuff of life, the best way out is always through.
So if this season of life seems so hard you can't breathe, know that while you might come out weary, broken, a little worse for the wear, you'll shine. Refined, like gold. Take a deep, raggedy breath, say a prayer, and steel yourself.
Because you can't go over it. Can't go under it. Can't go around it. You gotta go through it.