“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.
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.