I took this picture knowing I’d use it for a blog but wasn’t sure what the topic would be so I asked someone what words came to mind when they saw the picture. The reply was completely unexpected: “sometimes the brokenness in your life doesn’t completely go away”. We had just finished walking on the beach and listening to the morning songs of seagulls and rolling ocean waves. The weather was perfect. It was quiet. Peaceful. Relaxing. I was not prepared to replace those moments of tranquility with thoughts of brokenness, but I now was faced with seeing the pier from another perspective.
I’ve experienced broken times in my life and I’ve listened to others who shared experiences that I could empathize but not fully appreciate. Being an optimist, it’s easy for me to encourage people to believe the storm winds will shift and the sun will return. I think this optimistic approach is what made me glance over the fact that the pier was still in need of major repair. It may one day be stronger than ever, or it may continue to openly bear the scars of the storm. Sometimes the brokenness in your life doesn’t completely go away.
So, what’s the takeaway? What do I want you to remember from this picture? I can only share my new perspective:
- A storm will come. No one is exempt from what life has to offer and sometimes it’s going to get pretty dark, windy, and destructive. Sometimes we can prepare for the storm, sometimes it hits with very little warning. Emergency savings and a good network of friends may help, but money is fleeting, and it may take a storm to know who our true friends are. The point isn’t to prepare for the storm as much as it is to know that one will eventually come.
- The storm isn’t fair. Ever see pictures of storms that decimate one house but seem to barely affect the neighbor’s house? Not everyone will experience your storm. This is where empathy becomes important. If I’m in the middle of a storm, I can’t expect others to recognize what’s happening. Similarly, if my neighbor is in the middle of a storm, I can’t assume how they will fare.
- The storm will pass. Insert my optimistic voice here: “You will make it through this. The storm will pass”. I’m still optimistic and I still believe we can make it to the other side of the storm. But now I have a greater appreciation for the scars some will continue to carry when the storm has passed, and the brokenness remains.
- Some will never see the damage. I think this is a new revelation for me. The damage to the pier was right in front of me but I never saw it. Some people will NEVER share their storm damage. Some will share BUT we won’t see it or appreciate their sharing. Some WILL share, and we will be able to help them rebuild. I saw a quote once that said, “Don’t forget that maybe you are the lighthouse in someone’s storm”. Take some time with them. Be intentional in that (and every) moment. Remain hopeful through it all.
I hope my message of optimism can encourage you through the storm but I’m ready to meet you where you are thanks to someone opening my aperture to recognize that things aren’t always as they appear.