Life is full of beauty and joy. Life is also filled with challenges and sorrow. There’s no one way to get through times when you’re hurting. The periods when it feels the darkness is forever and the light will never come.
In the last few years, I’ve turned to a handful of books to help get me through tough times.
When things hurt, we have to go through a process to heal, try as we might skip some steps. When I’ve been in periods of intense pain, these books have provided comfort.
I’ve read these books many, many times — each time they show me something new. Reading these books is part of how I find healing during times of sorrow. These books remind me winter doesn’t last forever and spring comes again.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
This is one of my favorite books and one I read at least once a year, no matter what season of life I’m in.
It’s a reminder that everything we go through — pain and suffering, grief, joy, love, friendships — it’s all part of our beautiful and unique story.
It’s a reminder that life is beautiful, even when storms are raging and we feel hopeless.
“I’ve wondered, though, if one of the reasons we fail to acknowledge the brilliance of life is because we don’t want the responsibility inherent in the acknowledgment. We don’t want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage. And if life isn’t remarkable, then we don’t have to do any of that; we can be unwilling victims instead of grateful participants.” — Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski
This is the book I’ve gifted the most to friends. It’s a compilation of short stories about things found and lost and hoped for.
The stories are powerful and offer a stark reminder about what it means to be human — the highs and lows and everything in between.
In his stories, Jamie reminds us it’s ok to hurt — and to say it out loud. And to share it with others so they can step up to love and support you. The stories remind me I’m not alone in my hurt and always fill me with hope.
“…i don’t know your story or your dreams or the things that steal your sleep, but i know they matter. Ihope your story is rich with characters, rich with friends and conversation. Ihope you know some people who will carry you, and i hope you have the honor of carrying them. Ihope that there is beauty in your memories, and I hope it doesn’t haunt you. And if it does, then Ihope there is someone who will talk you through the night and remind you of the promise of the sunrise, that beauty keeps coming, that there are futures worth waiting for and fighting for, and that you were made to dream.” — Jamie Tworkowski, If You Feel Too Much
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I first read this book at the airport on my way to Peru. It was four in the morning and I couldn’t put it down. I was in a period of grief and suffering and headed to Peru to hike Machu Picchu with my sister. The trip was my attempt to stay busy and take my mind off how I was feeling deep inside. The book had a magical effect on me — it brought me a sense of peace I hadn’t felt in a long time.
“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky. Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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