With a heart about to burst, I walked down the aisle to Pachabel’s Canon in D toward the one who was choosing me and I, him. I felt Brendan’s gaze on my face, and his steady love caused me to feel grounded in a way that was still new to me. The air was thick with anticipation, joy, and a touch of grief. I had just finished my first year of graduate school for counseling, and in every sense of the word, I had fought to protect the joy of my wedding day.
My dad had chosen not to be present, and neither was much of my extended family — and this reality created a deep ache. And yet Brendan and I were entering a redemptive moment that would begin our life together. It was beautiful and overwhelming at the same time.
When I reached him at the front of the church, Brendan whispered, “Aundi, look around. Take a snapshot in your brain of this moment. We’re here — we’re doing this. Let’s not miss it.”
While I didn’t yet have the language to describe paying compassionate attention to myself or what I would come to call it later — trying softer — Brendan’s words on that day anchored me. They reminded me to give myself permission to feel fully loved and connected to God, myself, and my spouse, even while grief was present there too.
After Brendan whispered those words to me, I exhaled slowly and felt my feet beneath me. I suddenly noticed the weight of my dress and the lighting in the grand old synagogue that had been turned into a church. The late afternoon summer sun streamed in through the stained glass windows and cast a rainbow of pastels on the sanctuary. When we turned to face our guests, I looked around at each face sitting in the pews, and I actually saw them. I gave myself space to be loved by those who were there to support me.
I peered out at each of my siblings — my sister, who’d long been my best friend and confidant, and my three brothers, with their wit, courage, and gentleness. I saw my mom, and though she looked tired and was fairly new to her own recovery journey, I saw how much she loved me and hoped for my life ahead. Seeing my soon to be in-laws and my husband’s family moved me greatly too.
It was then that tears began to stream down my face, because while the day wasn’t perfect, it felt sacred, and I wasn’t missing it.
I look back on my wedding day now as an Ebenezer; a sign of God’s faithfulness to me (1 Samuel 7:7-12). Even now, I return to those moments as a piece of gold in my story that reminds me God is with me as I hold the fullness of my human experience. Though they are uneasy companions at times, joy and grief are intricately connected. In the last decade as a licensed therapist, I have learned that the key to holding these seemingly contradictory experiences together is to learn to pay compassionate attention to all that our minds, bodies, and souls are actually experiencing. It’s in this space of gentleness that we can move through the good and the hard, and allow God to meet us in their midst.
In a world that tells us to try harder—it’s time for something different. It’s time to try softer. We think if we just keep going, keep hustling, keep pretending everything is great, we’ll find success and happiness. But clinical therapist Aundi Kolber knows this leaves us overworked, overwhelmed, and exhausted. In her debut book, Try Softer, Aundi teaches us how to set boundaries, grow in self-compassion, and more in order to live a life of connection and joy. Trying softer is sacred work. And while it won’t be perfect or easy, it will be worth it.
We are so excited about the message of this new book that we just can’t wait to share it with you! Leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win one of FIVE copies!
*Giveaway will close at 11:59pm CT on 1/10/2020. Open to US residents only.
Move out of anxiety, stress and survival mode and into a life of connection and joy. -@aundikolber in her debut book, #trysofter: Click To Tweet