In challenging times, we’re often advised by the people we love to “trust the process.” Which can sometimes feel a bit like shorthand for “look on the bright side.” Often we believe that faith and fear are mutually exclusive. That they can’t and shouldn’t coexist. That putting our trust in a life that’s on our side also means we must expend an unreasonable amount of energy denying the existence of our doubt.

But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

While growth demands that we don’t become our pain, true transformation requires us to, at the same time, refuse to ignore it.

To sit with our own suffering, not abandon it in our quest for the silver lining.

To be honest about our darkness instead of hiding behind whatever mask makes us feel more intelligent, strong, invincible or in control.

To wrestle with our discontent, not brush it under the rug, numb it away or otherwise dress it up with shiny paper and a pretty bow.

It’s true, growth invites us to put our trust in something bigger than ourselves. It challenges us to release our grip on how we believe our lives should be unfolding. It calls us to surrender our best laid plans to some greater, deeper sense of universal order.

And yet, it also requires us to be honest with ourselves about how incredibly difficult this is to do.

We can be sure we’re growing when we feel a little bit off balance. When we’re no longer comfortable pretending, but we’re also not entirely sure how to be honest with ourselves about where we stand. When our lives aren’t defined by our fear or our denial, but rather the deep, rhythmic, frequently unsettling push and pull of our own holding on and letting go.

And often, it is only when we are willing to sit with this discomfort, to welcome it, to entertain it long enough for the smoke to clear and the dust to settle that we are finally able to see what’s been true the whole time: The peace is in the pieces.