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group of smart students raise hands up in school classroom on class

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” – Rumi

It is the most personal that is in reality the most universal.

The very things we think of as being the most unique to us are, in reality, what often can most intimately connect us with others.  I was reminded of this truth last Monday night.

One of my favorite organizations is the FOCUS Marines Foundation. They do an amazing job serving wounded veterans who are all struggling with physical ailments, PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and various other challenges.  FOCUS provides coping skills, relationship guidance, goal creation, and career advancement for those injured serving our country.

Quarterly they bring in new classes and for the past five years I have had the honor of spending an evening with these heroes; sharing my story and my lessons learned in order to help them develop their next action steps.

When I was with this group last week, a veteran asked how I deal with physical pain.  Another asked how to manage limiting beliefs. A third asked how I ended up marrying such a beautiful girl (I love these guys…I didn’t say they loved me!) Then, from the back of the room, a Marine asked if I’d ever dealt with thoughts that life just wasn’t worth living and if so what I did about it.

Sometimes the best way to answer a question is with a question.

So I asked if anyone in the room had ever had thoughts that life wasn’t worth living – and if so, if they would please put their hand up.

The room was packed with Type-A driven leaders. This is a room capable of handling the stress of basic training, the challenges of taking a hill, the severity of battle, the weight of having someone else’s life in their hands, and the required trust of putting their life in someone else’s hands.

Yet with these brave and strong Marines and Army veterans, there was no pause.

Immediately, almost every hand in the room went up.

My hand went up, too.

We then spoke about struggle and doubt and emotional demons and brokenness and fear and death. Then we spoke about redemption and transformation and worthiness and faith and the profound beauty within each day.

In other words, we spoke about life. Real life. The good and the bad. 

My friends, when we receive a diagnosis of cancer, a loved one is involved in an accident, or a friend is burned in a fire there is a cry that goes out to the community asking for support, donations, prayers, help.

But when we receive a diagnosis of depression, a loved one gets labeled as bipolar, or a friend is struggling with questions of life and death, an inner whisper urges us to keep it in, bury the hurt, strive forward, do it on our own.

What I know to be true is that we aren’t intended to do life by ourselves. Not the good stuff; not the bad stuff. Not the stuff you can see and share; and certainly not the stuff that is invisible and less popular to discuss.

We all have stories, we all have scars, but we just don’t all bear them on the outside. In realizing this commonality, we can accept that “the wound is the place where the light enters.” We can utilize our struggles to connect with others in theirs.

We can acknowledge that the scar is there because the wound has healed. [Tweet this] | [Share on Facebook]

And in vulnerably sharing with others our challenges, very frequently we’ll hear back the sacred, connective words that tear through all boundaries, “You too!”

This is the time to be on fire with your life. This is moment to embrace that life may not be easy, may not be perfect, but is most certainly worth it.  This is your moment to raise your hand, authentically share with others, and commit to fighting on.

This is your day. Live Inspired.

What scars, vulnerabilities, and struggles will you share with others so that they can see the light? Share your story in the comments below.

4 replies on “Will You Raise Your Hand?”

I am currently the caretaker for my 87 year old mother. When she was having dizzy spells and collapsed last October in her garage, my siblings called and asked if she could stay at my house. Without hesitating my husband and I both agreed yes. At the time it was to be short term. Once here it was obvious, she couldn’t go back home. I couldn’t bring myself to put her into a nursing facility. We had just bought our ‘dream’ house two years ago, next door to my sister. After having mom in this house for about four months, it was clear, six people and 1 full bath was not enough when 1 of those persons was 87. We have sold are home and are moving off a street we have lived on for 18 years and an area we lived in for 29. We couldn’t find a house to accommodate her needs and our family that we could afford. Her care is 24/7 and I am very isolated now from my friends. I’ve missed too many get togethers I guess. There is friction among the siblings, I think her failing health has caught everyone off guard. So often I feel isolated there as well. As a family, there has not been an agreement to hire help yet. So I am busy getting her to what activities she can still attend, while keeping up with an 8 yr old boy, high school student and college student. There are many days I want to not open my eyes when the alarm goes off, that is for sure! But I always start the day with a prayer that I can be the best example of Christ to those I meet throughout the day, even if it’s just my family. I may not be setting the world on fire right now, but my children will be, and I can only lead by example. So if I’m cleaning the bathroom for the fifth time or answering the same question from mom for the fourth time I try my best to do it with a smile and sense of humor. I don’t always succeed, but more good days than bad is a success in my book. Just doing little things the best you can, service to others, feeds our own soul. Plus I thought about running away once, but I realized it wouldn’t be fair to take the good car and I won’t drive the other one….and then where would I go? Minivans are not great getaway cars especially when they have
“Proud Parent of ….” Stickers on the back .

I became a widow and single mother of 1 daughter and unborn son at the age of 30. My husband, the most reliable, strong, dedicated loyal husband took his own life one October morning away from the house. He had suffered from some sort of mental illness that doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists were unable to diagnose.
The Spring of 2009 we found out we were pregnant with our second child which later we would learn was a boy! We were so excited to have one of each! A daughter and a son. Life was perfect. Almost as soon as we found out we were expecting my husband had gone in for a routine medical exam and was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. We were confused because he was a very energetic, active and athletic young man and had no symptoms that lined up with the disease. However we trusted his doctor and he began taking synthetic thyroid hormone. About 2 weeks in taking the meds he began to become very anxious, lost weight and suffered from severe insomnia.
Long story short, months went by meeting with several doctors and specialists. Dozens of medications prescribed to help him calm down and be able to sleep never worked. He was admitted to the psych ward after feeling so desperate to sleep. He literally did not sleep.
As a result of the lack of sleep he became a totally different person. He could not have a rational conversation, obsessed about his condition and eventually decided to end the madness on October 29th, 2009 leaving the house in the night, without my knowledge, and shooting himself in the head.
The next morning when I saw he wasn’t home, I called everyone I knew to help look for him. Not everyone understood what was going on because we didn’t tell a lot of people about his illness. He was embarrassed by it and I wanted to honor his privacy.
He was found in his car with a gun shot to the head, still breathing, but the paramedics were not able to revive him.
When I received the call that he didn’t make it, my world was completely turned upside down. That was the beginning of what I call my second life…

When I was almost two years old, my older brother and I were in a house fire. Christmas Eve of 1996 wasn’t the holiday it should have been that year for my family. My brother passed away that night due to smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide intoxication. I was burned at 85% of my body. For someone who was barely two years old, it was a death sentence. But I kept fighting, and I beat the odds. I’m 21 years old now. I’ve been through 19 1/2 years of skin graft operations, physical therapy, multiple situations of bullying, and surrounding family issues due to the fire happening. I had every reason to be a “bad kid” or to have feelings and thoughts of, “Why am I still here? What’s the point? If all that’s ever going to happen is that I get made fun of and pushed around because of my scars—scars I can never get rid of, what is the point?” But then, I dove into my school work and my music. I got involved with burn camps that help young children cope with being a survivor. I found that not only were there others like me who felt the way I did, but there were countless people that wanted me around and knew I had a bigger purpose for my life. I’m now a counselor at burn camp, helping younger survivors. I’m also heading into my senior year of college, graduating with a degree so I can be an advice columnist and a grant writer for nonprofit organizations. Life is so worth living. You may not be able to see it now, but there are people who want you around, and need you around. You could be that one person that changes someone’s life for the better, and sometimes you may be the only person able to do so. Keep that in mind. All the love.

Paige, what an inspiration you are! You show burn victims and non-burn victims that everyone can overcome anything and be successful. You didn’t let that event define you and hold you back from achieving everything you wanted. I am sure your parents are beyond proud of you!

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