Last week after an amazing night of brainstorming and up-leveling with my cousin, my passenger side window completely shattered into a thousand pieces while driving home.
The dark country road barely peeking out before me, the heater blasting, the radio turned up loud to keep me alert. Then suddenly, smack.
A blast of tiny shards of glass on my face.
Why does it always seem to happen this way? There was nothing I could do to fix it. I felt immediately frightened. Somehow, I easily pulled into a dusty old driveway and called Mike.
Being a fireman, he wasn’t phased by the chaos in my voice at all and helped me understand what to do next.
Knock out the glass and get on the road.
Upper Limit Problems
So much anxiety flooded me the next morning as Mike drove me to work. Everything seemed wrong and overwhelming. If you’ve been reading my blog for the past several months, you may know that this is par for the course in terms of car problems.
This year we’ve had our driver’s side view mirror swiped off twice a la hit and run, a minor fender bender, a rogue shopping cart incident in the parking lot of Target, and now this.
I could, like the glass, splinter into a thousand pieces. But I can’t. And I won’t.
I just read this amazing blog post from a life coach friend of mine about upper limit problems. It’s interesting to me that my conversation with my cousin was all about accountability, setting goals and taking things to the next level and then boom.
This is when good things are rolling along and as soon as you reach a point of goodness that you’ve never had before, something inevitably sneaks in to cap it off at your usual limit.
It’s a form of protection that plays out as self-sabotage. For example, if you’ve ever had a big win (a promotion, new relationship, standing your ground and speaking up for the first time), only to then get rear-ended, injured, drop your phone in the toilet, over eat, over spend, get into a fight with your partner, etc. It’s probably not due to bad luck. You most likely have hit your Upper Limit. –Amber Kryze
Oddly enough, my cousin and I were talking about my desire to break the mold and speak my truth as a soul-powered Health Coach. She said, “You wanna throw a brick thru the window. Don’t you?” It seems the metaphor became literal. Could there actually be a connection? I’m not one to discount it, but I also don’t want to read too much into it. However, the irony is thick wouldn’t you say?
With all the heavy stuff I’ve been dealing with lately, it’s very easy to ask, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”
And then a few days ago, I listened to one of the most powerful interviews I’ve ever heard from leadership mentor, Michael Hyatt. In the interview he’s talking with his co-host, Michele Cushatt, about her third cancer diagnosis and how her perspective on life has changed radically since her treatment.
You have to listen to it as soon as possible.
The honest truth is, life is full of unfairness. It’s unpredictable and turbulent. And things almost never go according to plan. It’s not personal – it’s life.
The only thing that got me through all the anxiety and feeling unsafe was thinking about Michele and her story. It was talking to my husband and hearing how he’s also surrendering to the mess. It was hearing him say – that’s life. Good things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to good people. There is no earning the good things in life. And, more importantly, there’s no earning the bad things either.
That’s why it’s non-negotiable to express gratitude for what is going well in life and to embrace all the positives as if you were embracing a full grocery bag that’s about to break. Hold it tight and don’t take what support you do have for granted.
Of course with my previous statement, you might be thinking, “Surely I can earn the good things in my life?” Or, “I’ve gotten what I deserve for living like a fool.”
Ok, yes. You can and should put all that you’re able into doing the right thing for the right reasons. And when you reap the benefits you should feel proud. Likewise, it’s good to own up to your part in the mess of your life. That’s called responsibility and it’s awesome. It’s not easy, but it is good.
Hear me, this is the distinction. Michele didn’t do anything to deserve her cancer. I didn’t do anything to deserve the shattered window. It’s not personal. It’s life.
It’s not fair. But it’s true.
And as H. W. Beecher once said,
Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.
Seeing the Light
Like I wrote recently, life is beautiful despite the brokenness; despite it’s unexpected splinters and shatters. I heard a song on the radio that said, the more broken you are the more the world can see your light. Which reminds me of two things:
- The Rumi quote about how the wound is the place where the light enters you. If you’re broken and the light can get in, then that means the light from inside can also get out – where it needs to go – to help others.
- Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken vessels. “It treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.”
In reality, life is never perfect and we’re not perfect. We’re broken so profoundly that sometimes we feel beyond repair. Unfortunately, you and I live in a culture that doesn’t value brokenness, but rubber necks as it passes on by. There are a lot of people trying to disguise their breakage. Including myself.
It’s natural to want to hide it, avoid it, and cover it up. Why risk showing how broken we are? Even if it’s an undeniable part of our history?
Well, I guess I have to ask: What’s the alternative?
Fake that you aren’t broken? Fake that you haven’t been through a lot. Hiding seems somehow untrustworthy to me. Perhaps even a little inauthentic. Remember the vessel does get repaired, so we can learn from that. We don’t have to stay broken, but we don’t have to cover up our scars either.
I don’t like embracing the mess. I don’t like surrendering. It’s the hardest thing that I can think of doing, especially right now.
But I’ll tell you, the alternative of covering up and making fake is a whole lot harder and time consuming for me. So without living in my brokenness, I’m practicing baring my battle scars without fear or shame. I’m also learning to believe in a new limit of goodness for myself. Also something that doesn’t come naturally or easily.
I’ll let my friend Niles sum this up for me:
Sometimes you have to empty out to fill in! Witness and know that the moment something breaks, it’s perhaps the same moment that the chains of stagnation and thinking you’ve already figured ‘it’ out, are broken too. And that is not broken, that is breaking through.”
Breakage is good. Breaking that limit means you’re getting through something. Something is changing and you’re learning something new. And just like my shattered car window, you almost never could have seen it coming.
How about you? Do you think brokenness is ultimately a good thing? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from making it through difficult times? I want to hear from you.