There are seasons that come in our lives that challenge us to the core of who we are. Times when, for all sorts of reasons, it feels like a light is being shone into the depth of our hearts, revealing the extent of our human frailty and weakness.
We can feel exposed and vulnerable.
Our confidence is slowly chipped away, as our lives feel like they are being rigorously pruned. We can see all the branches being chopped off and lying on the ground around us.
There are moments when we feel so exposed that we wonder how much more we can take.
The thing is, pruning is not a bad thing. Any gardener knows that you have to prune a bush for it to be healthy and grow better. Sometimes the pruning process leaves the plant looking bare and weak. But we know that actually it is making the plant stronger.
Following my relapse 3 weeks ago I have had to wait a lot. In fact, I am still waiting for treatment (an Epidural Blood Patch) for a recurring CSF leak, which keeps being delayed due to logistical problems in arranging this at our local hospital.
The longer the wait, the more you feel challenged. Patience gets harder over time, especially when you are unwell. Our patience can be short lived and we soon find ourselves in a place where endurance has to take over.
It takes a lot of strength and courage to stay positive during challenging times, particularly when they stretch out and do not appear to be resolving.
When you know exactly how long you have to wait, you may find it hard, but you know you only have to keep going for a time. When the waiting becomes open ended, it gets a lot harder to maintain a good perspective.
Each new day requires new perseverance: your frustrations grow, negative thoughts and attitudes increasingly knock at your mind – coaxing you to let them in.
In these times perspective matters a lot. We have to see the bigger picture or we will become consumed by the daily challenges.
A lump of stone or wood has to be crafted. It is the artist’s canvas. He carves into it and shapes the strong and solid material.
He strips back the strong material to reveal its hidden beauty. A design so intricate and detailed that it will draw people to its workmanship. It will speak and connect to people far more than the original block it was carved from.
The sculpture is a message or a gift given to the world by the artist who created it.
The artist reveals the true beauty hidden within the strength of the solid block of stone or wood. It always existed but it had to be foreseen before it could be revealed.
The block first has to be broken and shaped to reveal the creator’s vision.
This is the process I choose to believe is taking place in my life at the moment. I believe my injury was an unfortunate accident, but I know it is and will be used for good.
It is painful but it is not without purpose.
When your health is challenged over a long period of time, you inevitably feel weak. But the weakness isn’t only physical. It effects everything. It challenges you mentally, psychologically and spiritually.
You can feel stretched beyond what you have ever known.
You don’t understand it and can’t seem to fully break free from it.
It’s easy to give in to the flood of self pity. Refusing it is hard. You have to learn how to fight and stand your ground from a place of peace and rest. You have to fill your mind with better things and feed on truth that strengthens you.
It is not easy.
If we can embrace the journey of brokenness we actually become stronger. The process can shape us into something more beautiful, if we let it.
We won’t always like what we see during that process.
Our vulnerabilities and insecurities are exposed. We become more aware of our emotions and thoughts – both good and bad. Particularly, when also you have to rest a lot and don’t have a busy life to distract you.
Your thoughts are louder in silence. There is less to distract you.
If we can learn to see and face these, we become more self aware and can work through them. That is what makes us stronger. That is the beauty of brokenness.
For me it’s an ongoing journey of grace.
I know I am being stripped back. I know my identity is being challenged daily.
But I choose to embrace this process of brokenness, of being stretched and stripped back, because I know it is breaking through to who I really am and who I am meant to be.
I see that a storm that has tried to destroy me, in various ways, is being turned around into something beautiful.
I am being crafted and designed into something more meaningful, more unique, with more depth.
My creator is taking my life and using everything that comes into my life – for good. Regardless of whether that thing comes to bless or hurt me – He will use it to make something more beautiful in the end.
I am not talking about physical beauty.
I am talking about the inner beauty of purpose and character. The beauty of being broken and yet in the brokenness discovering who you really are.
The beauty that comes when we surrender to the creator who has envisioned and seen our potential since the beginning of time.
The one who takes the same human mould we all have, but each time creates something unique, unlike any other. He can then take our past, present and future and shape it into something of value, something that makes a difference.
The creator didn’t stop creating when we were born. He had only just started.
Brokenness is painful. Being stretched and stripped back hurts. Facing our weakness is humbling.
But I know it is not without purpose.
I know it will be always be used for good. Even that which attempts to destroy us can be used and crafted into something more beautiful.
A masterpiece, like no other, that will reflect the awesomeness of the one who created it. A work of art that will always have purpose and value.
Even in times of pain.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well… How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!” - Psalm 139:13-17 (The Bible)
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. -Ephesians 2:10 (The Bible)
To read more about my ongoing story of living with a chronic spinal CSF Leak click here.
Here is a brilliant 2 min animation about Spinal CSF leaks.