“A single mom who’s working two jobs, and still finds time to take her kid to soccer practice, that’s a miracle.” Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” Khalil Gibran
“You must take the first step. The first steps will take some effort, maybe pain. But after that, everything that has to be done is real-life movement.” Ben Stein
Laying the Foundation
On Instagram, I receive beautiful image quotes on all kinds of inspirational things. I am reminded of one illustration that depicts three guys on sports podiums in front of everyone who is cheering for them in celebration of their success. The caption reads, “What people don’t see.” Now, what exactly don’t people see? The angle in which the image was drawn shows the athletes’ back, atop piles and piles of bricks each with a description of the journey that leads them to where they are. You read words like, “Time, Depression, Failure, Patience, Perseverance, Frustration,” and so on, clearly communicating precisely what the caption intended: What people don’t see?
In a discussion I had with some friends, one of us raised a thought that generally does not cross our mind; the truth behind our response to one simple question: How are you? The obvious thing everyone knows is the varying degrees of replies to this question. The reality is, there is one of three answers to it: a lie, a half-truth and the full truth. This makes me wonder why we hide our true selves from others. Are we one person when we are alone at home and someone else in public? A critical explanation may tell us why, even I, am guilty of it too.
Setting up the Chief Cornerstone
In my personal experience friends and family, numerous times have hurt me, leading to a theme that I am inclined to undergo over and over again, which is being accused of things I have nothing to do with. Literally, nothing, not sometimes, close to, or remotely implied, simply nothing. The fact is lies about me would be manufactured, and false witnesses put together so fast I get sentenced without so much as an opportunity to plea for a trial!
As stated earlier this has been a theme in my life. Imagine reliving the same suffering many times over. Forget salt on a wound, this refers to being inflicted with pain on the same spot entirely, and though this may serve as the negative theme in my life, it gave birth to a positive and very common one. It involves persistence from a mental, emotional and spiritual standpoint. To understand this better, we will examine what that means from Paul’s perspective.
Paul had a reason for talking about pressing on towards the goal. In the preceding verses, he pours out the extent of his own pain. Having been born a Hebrew, he became a Pharisee, which is quite a transition in itself, persecuted the church, while remaining blameless because of his position and authority as a Pharisee, combined with his thorough understanding of the law. For all intents and purposes he was the evilest person in his day, thus moving beyond that, meant daily unlearning it and dissociating himself from everything pertaining to that lifestyle (more on that here). The two things he did is what gave birth to the new chapter in my life, as a result, I believe they contribute to the principal method in overcoming any adversity, despite the severity.
One Brick At A Time
I began this discourse, in a manner of speaking, by instilling the thought about what defines a miracle. If the single mother has to work at least 18 hours a day, if not more, find time to take her son to soccer practice, and provide the basic necessities for him including emotional support, this is all we see from the outside looking in. That way of life is a deep pain on its own because nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors. Filled with physical exhaustion from her demanding jobs, she comes home to a boy already asleep with nobody to read him a bedtime story. No friend to call or support group to lay the hurt and struggle of it all upon. The regret of having made the wrong choices leading up to where she is, coupled with the desire to be loved and thought of as tears drop all these things on the bed, with her face buried in her hands, and her voice soft enough for her son not to hear her.
Yet she still possesses enough tenacity within her to continue this way of living as though nothing has happened to her before, by executing the two things that Paul did: Forget what lies behind and press on towards the goal. Remember Paul had to daily separate himself from the individual he used to be, a continual rebranding of his identity. This pursuit enabled him to slowly but surely embrace a different side of himself, the new essence of who he was, repeatedly affirming this to himself as a sign of complete transformation.
Putting the Final Touches
I went through the same process. I discovered this phase at a time in my life it so appropriately describes: Better late than never. Meaning it is never too late to start over. Sometimes the best way to overcome years of physical and mental torment, abandonment by those you perceived to be family, the burden of losing a loved one, the abuse of the past growing up, continuous belittling of your ability to produce something fruitful in your life, is to forget what lies behind and keep living in spite of it. Pick up the pieces, and rebuild yourself, reaffirm who you are and rebrand your identity.
Be determined to grow from the turmoil to triumphant glory. It may take a few weeks, months and maybe even a year, but the resilience to do so must always remain.
Featured image is credited to Saikat Ghosh