Each year, as the calendar flips from August to September, I have some wrestling to do.
For some, September marks the time of year when the air begins to turn crisp, and the leaves slowly shift from vibrant greens to muted yellows.
September reminds me of the birth of my son – one of the best days of my life.
And sadly, September is my reminder that brains can break, the same as bones. Just like wet hands on slippery dishes, in an instant, a brain can shatter too. I know this unfortunate fact because I’ve lived through a couple of terrible Septembers.
And I nearly died by suicide six Septembers ago; exactly one year after my little boy was born.
It would be easy to view September as a time when it felt like God abandoned my family and me. Shame sings her siren song, wooing my heart to live in constant dread, wondering when the darkness will return. Fear of what I cannot control and the guilt from past I am no longer subject to would love to prevent me from embracing the present day, but I refuse to buy their lies.
September is my yearly reminder that all of life is an ebb and flow. The sacred journey from chaos to calm is universal. Life is full of ups and downs. Good times, and excruciatingly painful seasons. Precious memories and horrific traumas. September gently nudges me to notice that life is always changing.
If you’re in a rough patch and it feels like nothing is working, remember this: hard times come and go, just like the tides. Sometimes shitty days turn into shitty weeks and months, but they don’t last forever. When bad news arrives, take a deep breath and look back on all the bad news you’ve already lived through.
So keep hoping. Keep holding on when life serves up a shit sandwich. Keep trusting that better days are coming. Keep looking for goodness and beauty. Keep your eyes peeled for Love to show up. Sooner or later, it will. Eventually, the tide will recede, the waters will calm, and you will have gained new strength and new wisdom for the journey.
Life isn’t always comfortable, but you have the tools to get through the pain.
Much like the love notes taped along my wife’s bathroom mirror, September reminds me to hold the ones I love most a little bit closer. I hope it reminds you to do the same thing.
September urges me not to become so consumed with busyness that I forget to slow down and allow myself space to breathe and just be. To treat everyone I meet with patience and grace, especially myself. To tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable, and ask for help.
And celebrate every single victory.
The human experience is rarely ever comfortable, but it is definitely worth living. If you are reading this when your brain is lying to you, listen to me: I understand, and it’s okay. It’s okay to not always be okay. You are not alone. Keep on walking. One step at a time. Crawl if you have to. Because just around the bend, if you remain patient and determined, you’ll notice the air is turning clear and crisp again.
I am grateful for every September.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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