Sometimes we feel so messed up, it’s hard to know if we are doing anyone any favors. Questions like this can plague us: Why should my children listen to me? What if I just hide and lick my wounds today? Who will notice if I go missing for a bit? This is when it’s good to know how to live an authentic life. Brokenness and all.
Susan Sohn is a Treasuring Mothers guest blogger. She recently released a book which attempts to find answers to these questions, and a lot more besides. True You, Finding Beauty in Authenticity is available online and in-store at Koorong.
Listen to Susan on the Treasuring Mothers podcast >>>
Seeing Beauty in the Broken
I find it fascinating that some of the most beautiful things are made from what we often consider waste or off-cuts. The things people attempt to throw away, the things that aren’t beautiful to one, and can be flawless to another.
Have you ever found yourself mesmerized by a stained-glass window? The ones that are pieced together to create beautiful mosaics. So beautiful, that when the sun hits it the reflection can dance around room and captivate us.
Similarly, you may have strolled through quaint shops and let your fingers skim across the work of a beautiful quilt. The ones our grandmothers used to make, that would swallow us in a deep sea of blankets, letting us know all is well in the world.
Both of these, the stained-glass and the quilt are created from offcuts or what we might even deem as waste. They were once dropped to the floor or in the case of the glass, broken pieces that have been left to be discarded. Yet here they are, stunning and they have become objects that, in some cases, become priceless. Broken glass and pieces of fabric come together to make art that has the ability to bring healing and joy.
Simple Dish — Rich and Hearty Outcome
I love to cook, and I know the richest broth is made from the pieces that are usually thrown away. Nutrient denseness made from marrow and sinew that bring robustness to the broth. They create the rich, full, flavor we desire in such a simple dish — nutrient-rich and healing in every ounce.
The broth. The richness. The dense flavor.
The healing that is carried in every ounce.
How quickly we try and rid ourselves of what is seemingly undesired or perhaps even hard to look at. We do our best to throw things to the floor, and in some cases also sweep them under the carpet. Never allowing time for the refining process to take place. We hide, we throw away, and we cover up the ugly and make things look shiny and new.
If beauty can be found in these things then what about our mess, our pain, our ugly? Could our brokenness be pieced together like a patchwork or stained glass and be seen as beauty? Is it possible that all we have walked through, endured or experienced, God could use to create the most incredible beauty in our lives? Could our pain be the broth that nourishes our souls? Could we truly live and authentic life?
Beauty, Brokenness and an Unexpected Consequence
One of my favorite examples of the beauty that comes after pain was when my then-four-year-old son Gabriel, broke his arm. He was pretending to fly like an aeroplane, weaving his way through knee-high grass, but the momentum of running down the hill was too much for his little legs and the next thing we knew he was head over heels and rolling in the grass. I ran toward him thinking he would have knocked his teeth out, but never expected what I saw.
As I gathered him up, I noticed his little arm was broken in two. What was once a straight, functioning arm had snapped into a V-shaped limb. It was awful. After emergency surgery, Gabriel was returned to us with his arm in a cast. The doctor explained that although he suffered a severe break, they were able to repair it. What he went on to explain surprised us: He said when we break a bone and have it fixed and reset, it becomes stronger than it was initially.
Could we say the same for our lives? Could the innermost places of ourselves be broken and yet heal stronger than before? Like Gabriel’s arm, we need to allow the part that needs healing to be reset, put in a cast to keep it still and in position. And we need to understand that this process takes time and patience.
Live an Authentic Life
The more we attempt to hit the damage control button, the more damage we are causing to ourselves. My message to you and my revelation in this is that we need to stop trying to hide. To live an authentic life we need to stop pretending our insecurities and flaws don’t exist. We need to live light and healed, rather than weighed down by past hurts and the broken pieces of our life.
The more we attempt to hit the damage control button, the more damage we are causing to ourselves.
Is it scary and vulnerable to open yourself up? Absolutely. Like Gabriel going to the operating table, healing is a place where we allow ourselves to go, and in that vulnerability, we allow a deep work to begin. In the resetting of thoughts and ideas, we acknowledge the pain, sadness, loss, depression, and physical hurt, and we start the sometimes-slow journey of healing.
Remember the stained-glass window – that all those little pieces, created from brokenness were picked up off the ground and given the opportunity to be something exquisite. The same for those scrap pieces of material – repurposed and turned into a treasured family heirloom.
Our pain can bruise us, but the stain and fragmentation of our lives that is formed from the aftermath can come together and create something stunning. But only if we allow it. Our truth can heal us, and our inner mosaic can begin to take form.
Like a broken arm, we can be rebuilt from the inside out. Just imagine a life stronger and able to withstand more, simply because of the trauma we have experienced. Can you live an authentic life? Can that pain become beauty? Yes, it can.
My Prayer for You
May your soul be nourished by rich broth that is made from the off-cuts. And may that broth spill out and through your life, into the lives of those around you. May you love deeper and live stronger because you choose not to sweep the pain under the carpet. Instead you embrace it, you process it, and you can become a more authentic version of yourself. You CAN live an authentic life.
This blog is a more-in-depth excerpt from Susan Sohn’s book, True You, Finding Beauty in Authenticity.