In June, Saltwater and Honey turned a year old. Where has the time gone, eh?
A dream of an idea became a reality. From darkness came light.
There are few other things in my life which fill me with more pride than being a part of this project.
I’m a big fan of looking back and reminiscing about good times, reflecting on hard times.
So, what have I learned over the last year?
Probably more than I know. But here are a few that I can think of:
1. It takes courage to share your story but it is worth it. Your small, quiet voice can be heard. There are people who want to hear and the overwhelming response we’ve had has been positive and encouraging.
2. No-one knows what you’re going through unless you tell them. We may want to wait to be asked but what if the “right” question never comes?
3. A result of going public with your life is that people will feel able to tell you what you are doing wrong. How you should be dealing with your grief. However, these people tend to do so anonymously. Anonymous commenting isn’t brave. Yet this has been the hardest thing for me to accept. Harsh comments from nameless/faceless people almost paralysed me from continuing. How do you engage with someone who doesn’t want to be seen? Judging a snapshot of someone’s life must be easy. We all do it in some way. But at least do it with a real e-mail address!
4. There are a lot of people who feel on the fringes of church/society. Whether it is singleness, depression, infertility, debt, illness, it ostracises and creates loneliness. The stories are all different but there is shared experience of looking in from the outside.
5. Opening up has lead to meeting and connecting with some amazing people (virtually and in reality). It has been a privilege to hear their stories of dealing with loss with hope, joy, tears and openness. These connections have really encouraged me to keep talking/writing because even if only one other person gets it, that is enough.
6. Life is an incredibly beautiful mess. And mess makes people uncomfortable.
7. More people than I could have imagined are getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
8. My broken heart has an even greater capacity for joy, love and hope.
9. In the last year, I’ve shed more tears of laughter, empathy and lament than I thought possible and there is plenty more to come. I’m grateful for that.
10. Grief cannot be neatly packaged up. It sneaks up on you in an instant. Pretending you are OK is not the same as being OK. Allow yourself to feel the grief. It will pass. It will come back. Life is unpredictable but God is good.
11. That when you fall, there are those who will carry you and share your burdens if you can make yourself vulnerable and let them in.
12. Finally, stepping out and embarking on this project which has opened our hearts and stories to more people than we could have fathomed, was frightening! I can’t imagine doing it without the ceaseless support and encouragement of our silent backers. The friends and family members who champion our cause, who weep with us, laugh with us, dry our tears, hope for us and provide us with endless encouragement. Anyone struggling needs advocates and we really have some awesome ones.
Thanks for being on the Saltwater and Honey journey with us. It feels like it has only just begun!
As always, Sheila, this is moving in its honesty, insight and courage. You are inspiring and wonderful.
You guys have pioneered a way to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and to talk about how uncomfortable that can be! You are an inspiration to me personally, professionally and in our church setting x
Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart Sheila. I am a friend of Esther’s -we met at uni about 9 years ago and hadn’t seen each other for years until she and Ben visited Scotland a few months ago. Anyway, saltwater and honey is a beautiful beautiful thing and I have read every blog more than once over the past year. I have my own story of brokenness, infertility and childlessness and each of these blogs gives me a sense of community with people who are also experiencing grief through similar issues. It’s amazing and what you say is so true -grief sneaks up on us but it’s ok to let it flow, share, pray and wipe the tears away until we catch our breath for the next while until grief finds us again. Praying tonight for peace, hope, strength and wisdom for all who are part of this beautiful tent of sharing xxx