Sometimes I forget that I don’t know a damn thing. I forget that I need to be grateful for the bad things that have happened in life just as much as the good things. I forget that the good times add the sweetness but the tough times make the strength. I forget that without heartache I wouldn’t have learned how to love myself, without hunger I wouldn’t know how to make best use of what I have, without struggle there would be no growth.
If we’re not growing we’re dying. If we’re not changing we’re not living. We are more than our circumstances and environment. When we know we can hold on to ourselves when the world is going to hell in a hand basket, the ride is not as scary. When we know it is in us to face any challenge life throws at us and not be defeated then we are ready to really live.
The biggest challenge we have to face in life is ourselves. We have to face our imperfections, our mistakes, our vulnerabilities, our vices. This world is not covered in bubble wrap, and every one of us may be dented, may be damaged, may be bruised and scarred, but we are not defective and we are not broken. It may feel that way sometimes, like life has broken us, like we have been shattered, but it is what we do with the broken pieces that matter.
We are strong, but there is no way to know our strength until it is tested. When we do find ourselves in the grinder we need to just keep pushing, keep going, keep living. We may want to lay down and die, but we don’t, we can’t. Life will go on, and we will go on with it, and if we hunker down through the tough times, if we keep hold of ourselves, if we love ourselves (and others who care about us) enough to not self-destruct, we will find that we’ve made it through.
And when we can come up for air and begin healing, we pick up the shattered pieces of our hearts. The strength that we’ve gained, grown, earned during our hardships we use as the glue to bind the broken pieces together. In the end we will be a mosaic, a beautiful picture of these defining moments. The faceted surface of our hearts will shine like the piece of coal that has gone through the intense pressure necessary to become a diamond. The refining fire that burned us will be transferred to the center of our being, fueling our determination to face the world anew, because we are that much stronger.
True beauty is built on imperfection. True strength is built on struggle. True growth is built on being able to overcome.
(Photo by Kelene Blake: portion of a mosaic made of hundreds of tiny pieces of broken glass in the British Museum)