A few years ago, I started saying 3 prayers for some of the hardest parts in my life. For me, at that time, they were specifically for 3 people in my life.
I did not pray for God to change them into who I thought they should be. I did not ask him to prove I was right or to open their eyes to how wrong they were.
I asked God to change me.
I prayed three simple prayers: I wanted the wisdom and grace to talk to them without hurt feelings, leeriness, and past conflicts running the show. I wanted to see things from their point-of-view and I wanted to not just assume I was always right.
Some stay, some go
Within a few months, the first person walked away. Sometimes in life that happens. The second person unexpectedly started to meet me where I was in our conversations. We were able to approach past hurts and figure out a good path forward from a place of peace, love, forgiveness, and respect. We’re doing fine and piecing ourselves back together to this day.
The third was trickier. We’d met each other with distrust and overtly aggressive words for so long I wasn’t sure things could ever improve. However, two years ago things started to shift. Our conversations stopped becoming arguments. Even when we didn’t agree, attacks weren’t thrown out. Our last email exchange in the Spring of 2020 contained an apology, best wishes, and an optimistic plan for moving forward.
As the world shut down, life happened and we lost touch. There was no screaming fall out or Real Housewives worthy blow up, things just kind of stopped. Sometimes that happens in life. I meant every word when I wished him well and kept him in my prayers.
Sadly, he passed away last month. I was shocked. And I’m kind of mad. Just when things were finally getting to a good place, the rug was pulled out from underneath us. Nothing about this seems right or fair.
Pain is an unavoidable part of life. No matter your religious beliefs, practices, or non-beliefs we all deal with pain in our lives. Faith doesn’t promise a pain-free life (if you hear otherwise, run away – they’re lying).
Beauty from Pain
When we begin the painful process of picking up the shattered pieces of our broken hearts we have no choice but to try our best to put it back together. If you’ve ever broken something fragile, you know how difficult this is. In the end, even if you find every piece, things never fit back together the same.
We have two choices then. We can be ashamed of and hardened by the scars our hearts carry, or we can be proud of how we grew through hard times. There is beauty found in the scars of our broken hearts.
The Japanese practice of kintsugi is the best representation I’ve ever seen. This practice involves taking beautiful, but broken, items and putting them back together with shimmering gold among the cracks. The new-old piece resembles its former self, but with more beauty and value than before. It’s the best reminder I’ve ever seen of how pain can bring beauty into life.
It also reminds me of one of my favorite verses I lean on when the pain is too much, Psalm 34:18:
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
You’re Not Alone
Even in our pain, we are not alone. Even in our broken places there is love and beauty waiting for us. Gathering the pieces and putting them back together takes time, but in the end we will become who we are meant to be if we do the work.
Asking for God’s help in becoming who you are meant to be in times of pain or struggle is not always easy, but it is always worth it. I am grateful for the peace it brought to my life and the beauty I see now in the broken places.
I hope you find peace in your struggles today.