Clawing My Way to Calm

Jennifer Pett essays

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I am in the midst of a very long bittersweet season. The beautiful and the brutal. Births and deaths and sickness and health. It has been long. I feel as though have been clawing my way to calm for years, day by day. Sometimes hour by hour. Even minute by minute. Breath by breath.

Through this bittersweet season, I have rediscovered how we are all more alike than different, that the journey I'm on is shared, and that finding hope. . .and stretching yourself into something new. . . can be truly bittersweet, in the best possible sense. And that's a beautiful thing. Even clawing your way to calm day by day is a beautiful thing.

Those small and big moments, momentous and fleeting, the bitter, the sweet, and the decidedly both, make up this cocktail of life.

Teaching my son to breathe through pain.

Losing babies. 

First smiles. First laughs. First words.

Watching my boy struggle with sadness.

Losing my dad.

The salvation of books.

Writing my truth, with fear and trembling.

Meeting new friends.
 Saying goodbye to old ones.

Having a beautiful, diverse, far-flung tribe of friends that feel like family.

Celebrating a new home while saying a long goodbye to the old.

Bringing people together, in community, around the table.

The joyous sound of my husband's laugh.

Breathe it all in. 

Breathe in the bittersweet.

As I write, I am stretched out on a couch in my baby's hospital room. He's recovering from major surgery. Bitter. It appears to be successful and he has been a peaceful, compliant patient. Sweet. I have relearned, especially today, that God's in control and I'm not. Sweet, but HARD SWEET, eucharisteo, if you know what I mean. My big boys are missing us, and we are missing them. Beautiful bittersweet.

That's life, I think. In the midst of the groans and laments, the exaltations and triumphs, we also get the beautiful, ordinary, easy pleasures in between. But we don't get it all easy, or we won't grow. We don't get it all hard, or we won't grow. The bittersweet is just the right fertilizer for our seeking little souls. At least, it is for me.

About the Author

Jennifer Pett

Jennifer is a reader, writer, professor, and mama who is wrangling four young boys, often by the skin of her teeth. When not doing yoga, she will likely be baking (in order to prolong the inevitable grading of the papers, of course). You can also find her at her blog, , where she successfully avoids the laundry, one book at a time.

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