June 12, 2024

We are our best thing

“You are your best thing, Sethe. You are.”

I have run to this particular passage in Toni Morrison’s Beloved so many times, and this week was no different. I can feel the palpable weight of grief as Sethe contends with a decision she feels framed her life. Refusing to allow her child to suffer the same fate of enslavement, Sethe ends the infant’s life—returning her baby to the spirit realm. Then, she can’t free herself of the guilt or the shame and declares that when she killed her baby, she killed everything good about her.

Photo: AdobeStock

Refusing to let that declaration go unchallenged, Paul D pushes back with the words I’ve had to recite to myself over and over again. “You are your best thing…you are.”

This has been a week. Our collective traumas and tragedies as of late have made moving through each day with ease nearly impossible. And then, there’s the other stuff. The personal stuff that, in the midst of all that’s going on, seems selfish to feel and vocalize. Feeling overwhelmed at work when so many are struggling to find employment. Falling out with a lover or a friend when others would give anything to have their loved ones back. The persistent force of trauma in all its forms makes life hard for so many and we’re just all trying to find ways to stay afloat.

Maybe that’s the point. That we just try. It may have felt impossible but, somehow, we put one foot in front of the other each day and made it to the end of last week and so many weeks before—and are now at the beginning of a new one. Whether we found ways to get it all done or readjusted our list of priorities, the workload that seemed insurmountable did not defeat us. And maybe we cried a bit or got a little sad reflecting on relationships that have transitioned but somehow we found a way to meet the sun each morning.

We tried and we did it. But not without help. The call from a friend that came at the right time. The group chat that had us laughing all day. The encouragement from a colleague that, in spite of everything, we’re doing a good job and aren’t alone. The spark of something new that could possibly lead to something great. The random act of kindness that proved there’s still good in this world. In a hard week, we found soft places to land. All because we kept trying. 

We tried and we did it. Not because we’re superheroes capable of gravity-defying feats but because something inside of us told us we were worth the effort. And we are. For some of us, that voice booms loudly and it silences everything in its path. For others, it may be a whisper that refuses to be drowned out by the noise. Whatever we heard during a week of heaviness, hopefully, we listened—because now, it’s time to be led to the light.

We deserve happiness. We deserve weeks that are filled with laughter, love and hope. And, when that week is nowhere to be found, we deserve to be graced with whatever we need to endure the hard days until the glorious ones come again. And they will come. Because we deserve. I needed Paul D’s words to remind me of that. To remind me that I may not always get it right but I’m still good. That, though I have traveled far and still have a long way to go, the journey ahead is filled with great wonder and possibility. That is true for all of us.

So, though we may carry some of the pain and discomfort from last week into this one and possibly for weeks to come, it is behind us. Maybe a few things left undone last week find themselves on this week’s to-do list. And yeah—you might miss them during these next seven days, too. But last week was last week. Today, you get to face the world again, a little wiser this time and maybe more hopeful. Perhaps perspective has come to reorient you to what is true: you are your best thing—and, as long as you are, you really can do anything. You really can make it. You really can thrive.

Candice Marie Benbow is theGrio’s daily lifestyle, education and health writer. She’s also the author of Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @candicebenbow.

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