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“The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind.”

We spend an inordinate amount of time hiding from our true reflection.

It seems to me, we cake on makeup in the morning, less as a way to magnify our beauty, and more as a way of hiding our imperfections. And this “makeup” isn’t just applied in the morning, but throughout our days.

We Photoshop the perception of our lives by posting only pictures of perfect vacations. We apply the makeup go deeper into debt to portray the image that everything is fine. We stay so busy at home, preoccupied with tasks in our day, and driven at work that we completely forget who we are, the incredible worth of our stories, the beauty of our reflection.

I spent decades applying makeup to my life.

After being burned as a kid, the image I longed to portray was that everything was okay, normal, fine.

Back in grade school, while still in a wheelchair, I tried desperately to fit in. Played sports, participated in plays, everything normal. Nothing different here!

The longing continued through high school and college. I was not particularly gifted in arts, music, class work, or sports. I didn’t have a job, didn’t date, wasn’t on fire in my faith or secure with who I was. So I my make up or mask of choice at the time: drinking.

I lived for the weekends. And by college the word weekend meant Wednesday through Sunday. Not dating, not working, and not trying too hard in class, I strived to go out more frequently, drink faster, consume more, and stay out later than any of my friends.

For me, the buzz, the real addiction, wasn’t as much about the alcohol as it was the sense of being accepted, of belonging, of being seen….of being loved.

Even my career choice was makeup looking back on it.

I mean, what would be the most challenging job for a guy who’s been burned and doesn’t have fingers? Yup, a carpenter. Looking back on it, I became a real estate developer less to build beautiful structures than as a way to shout loudly to anyone watching that I was normal, I was fine, all good.

But in time, in life, erosion happens. Erosion cuts through the makeup, the mask, the bandages, the dirt and the grime and leads to the discovery of what was there all along.

For me the erosion kicked in when my Mom and Dad wrote a book about their experiences during my hospitalization, the fire. It was an unauthorized biography of my life and they put a picture of me on the front of it. Jerks.

But after reading their book, looking back at the cover, I saw my story, my reflection even the picture on the cover differently, as if for the first time.

A picture I’d always kind of hated. The picture showed my thick red scars, a wheelchair, braces and splints and all the pain they reminded me of. But now, this time, I saw something else, too. A bright smile, light in the little boy’s eyes, courage in his spirit and joy in his heart.

Sometimes I think we can be so preoccupied in covering up what we don’t have, that we miss the amazing gifts we do.

It turns out the fire led perfectly to where I am today. The challenges led to experiences that shaped me, the character that drives me, the faith that guides me, the life around me, and to the possibility in front of me.

And I am absolutely certain this same reflection awaits you today, too.

No, it won’t be perfect.
There remain challenges, scars, and difficulties.
But it’s now your life.
It’s now your story.

And rather than reaching for makeup to mask it, let’s choose instead to reach for a megaphone to celebrate it.

This is your day. Live Inspired.

5 replies on “The State of Your Life”

I am grateful for Jessie whose care has given my 5 year old grandson a chance to be a regular active life. His kidneys failed and the one remaining kidney has miraculously improved because of her excellent care. Thank you Jessie.

The State of Your Life was another wonderful true story. I enjoyed it very much. Keep up the great work. Even as old as I am, you give me enthusiasm.

Miss your talks last time I heard you was when I worked for st Claire meadows in baraboo wi and got your last wrist band on you sent me my new address as john deering s190 county hwy a lot 55 baraboo wi would like a new wrist band if possible send me a bill on how much it is and I will pay for it thank you john deering

Great Message! I need this reminder and message to allow myself to reflect on what I’ve done and the direction I am going. Am I spending enough time with my family? Am I working to enjoy things or working to keep things up? Bless you for your insights and thoughts.

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Live Inspired Together is a community of friends changing the world together, starting with their own. In a world that often focuses on negativity, John O’Leary - Live Inspired shares the other side of the story through his member-supported channels (essays, Live Inspired Podcast, video, webcasts, social platforms) to connect our community and share inspiration and actions to live it. Support now.