Day in, day out, how much can a person deal with before being broken?
Don’t be afraid of the broken places (see: “Strength”).
Some days are easier than others, true. But other days, what we’ve lost in our lives seems much greater than what we’ve found, especially as we get older.
Something that’s easy to forget is that loss does not only pertain to the physical death of a person. It actually runs deep through our lives, like an underground current.
It can’t be seen, only felt. You’re not aware of it, only aware of something.
The pink slip,
…missing out on that promotion
…not being in the career you pictured for yourself
…breaking off an engagement
…moving away from family and friends
…putting down a pet
…receiving a cancer diagnosis
…being sexually abused
…fighting an addiction
…having your home foreclosed
…giving up on the dream of a house with a white picket fence on a tree-lined street
…questioning your faith
…dropping out of college
…having your retirement fund emptied
…wrecking your car
…witnessing a shooting
…disappointing your parents
…cancelling a vacation
…conceding the school board election
…failing an entrance exam
…losing a valued friendship
– those are just a few of the losses we experience.
The ones we don’t tend to classify as “losses.” The ones we don’t give ourselves a chance to mourn.
But we keep on, keeping on. Then one day, some unexpected event triggers something deep inside us, and we wonder what hit us.
Hopelessness. Loneliness. Bitterness. Helplessness. Anger. Emptiness. Longing. We’re numb. We break down and wonder why we can’t stop crying.
Our souls are bruised, and we don’t know why it hurts so much.
We can’t stop crying because those losses are cumulative – they build and build – and we deal and we deal – and we bury them, until we can’t bury them anymore.
Don’t be afraid of the broken places.
If we didn’t break apart, the light wouldn’t be able to get in. Now, where there was only darkness, there is light.
So we sit with them awhile, those scary emotions we’ve tried so many creative ways to ignore. Don’t fight it.
You’ve heard the term, “When God closes a door, He opens a window?” I believe that.
Picture yourself alone, walking into an old one-room cottage, curious to see what’s inside. The door slams shut behind you. No problem. Probably the wind; you’ll get out. You turn the doorknob, only to find the door still closed. Maybe it’s jammed or stuck. This place is old, after all. You yank on the door, angry that it won’t open. Then panic sets in and you bang on the door until your hand hurts, yelling for someone until your voice is hoarse. You keep on for hours, trapped.
Until you have nothing left and you slide against the wall to the floor, exhausted, fearful, bereft. You curl into a fetal position and rock back and forth, taking yourself to a safe place in your mind.
At first, you think it’s your imagination. A brush of something against your cheek. Then you feel it again, only stronger, this time accompanied by the delicate scent of an unnamed flower. The breeze refreshes you, and you realize that a sunbeam has fallen across your face, drying the tears. You sit up and slowly open your eyes to find its source.
There, to the side of you, is an open window, sunlight streaming onto your face, the breeze billowing sheer curtains into the room. The window was always there…you just didn’t see it; you didn’t notice it. While railing against the darkness, you couldn’t see the light.
With a smile and a look of wonder on your face, you walk to the window. You lift your legs over the window sill and step barefoot onto the green, fragrant grass. It feels good. It feels right. It feels like home.
You turn for one last look at the tiny cottage, grateful to be outside. Then you turn your back and walk toward the warmth of the sun. Toward life and all its challenges.
But always toward the light.
With a sense of purpose and direction, with a strength that was born of the darkness, with a renewed sense of hope that this was all a part of the journey.
Don’t be afraid of the broken places.