By Bailey Gillespie / April 7, 2017 11:35am
No matter how hard fighting for your life can get, there are some pretty beautiful reasons for doing so.
To see how you feel in the morning.
The earth works in cycles and seasons and patterns. What you are and feel now is not what you will be and feel forever. The process by which the earth reinvents itself is one of renewal: death and rebirth. This should give us great hope. When you come to the end of yourself—the real, shockingly bleak end—there really is nowhere else to go but up. A shoot of new grass doesn’t know that it’s cliché to grow up from the ashes of a charred field. It just does it because life is more powerful than death.
To experience the transcendence of beauty.
Although beauty can’t heal us directly, when we experience it, it softens something in us and gives a sense of hope. That’s why the arts are used so often in therapy. An encounter with beauty—natural like the sea or man-made like a nocturne—can mysteriously find its way to our centers and fill a deep need, connecting us with our humanity. Somehow, I think beauty reminds us that we are loved.
To chase not pleasure, but true joy.
If you’ve ever wanted to laugh and cry at the same time, you’ve probably experienced a taste of true joy. Everyone encounters it in different places—always the places where you feel most alive. There have probably been 12 times in my entire life where the electricity of true joy struck my bones and reduced me to tears. Singing a cappella on the shoreline of the American river at night. Playing with the babies of a dear friend who never thought she’d have children. Listening to Andrew Peterson’s “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone” while a fresh storm rattles the wind chimes outside. Chase the sources of this joy, friends, and see where it takes you.
To see how the story ends.
There is great value in recognizing that life plays out as a story. As an English major, I found that studying literature was so helpful in studying the dips and climaxes in my own life and learning how to anticipate both conflict and resolution.
“When you recognize that life can be viewed as a story,” said Portia Hopkins, English Department Chair at William Jessup University, “you gain agency to craft—within certain limits—what that story will mean.”
It’s natural to be curious about how your story might end. We all want to believe in the ultimate redemption of the lives of both the protagonists and antagonists that surround us. I believe in this kind of redemption wholeheartedly, which means I have the responsibility to keep living and watching for it.
“There are many events in the story that you can’t control,” said Hopkins, “but you do have power over finding and making meaning, and of connecting your story to the infinite number of stories around you, as well as to the Great Story of God’s working in the world.”
These, friends, are some beautiful reasons to keep living. Let’s hold on and keep fighting together.
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Bailey Gillespie is a writing instructor at William Jessup University and a freelance academic editor. She lives near Sacramento, California and loves connecting with people over health, creativity, and faith. Recently, her writing has appeared on The Rabbit Room, The Deeply, Co., and Simple and Soul. Read more at baileygillespie.com or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.