"The unexpected gift of everything falling apart is that we get to choose which pieces to pick back up, and which pieces to leave behind."
(I wrote this blog post toward the end of 2020, but am reposting now because it's still so relevant.)
2020 has been a year of relentless challenges, and I know I’m not the only one struggling to stay positive when the balls keep flying at our heads… over and over and over... For me personally, in addition to the pandemic and all the changes it has brought this year, I’ve also been facing a seemly endless string of crises in my personal life. It’s like that quote –
“They say God only gives us what we can handle… Apparently God thinks I’m a badass.”
Funny… yet not funny while we’re in the situation.
I went through a similar period a few years ago, and the insight I gained back then has helped me immensely. It was a time when everything I believed in and built my life around felt as if it was crumbling around me, and I couldn’t see anything through the dust in its wake. It was terrifying, painful and extremely disorienting.
Not gonna lie – I cried. Alot.
But once I got it all out, something magical happened. I closed my eyes and took a good look at my life. In my mind I saw blinding green grass, rolling hills, blazing sunshine - a blank canvas of potential to create the life that feels right TO ME. The life I’d been exhausting myself trying to create while still holding on to people and ways of thinking that weren’t true to who I am.
This gut wrenching time of collapse had cleared the crap I couldn’t or wouldn’t clear for myself, and left me with a weightless freedom to make this MY life.
Standing sure-footed on fertile ground, ready to return to ME - the me that so often gets put on the bottom rung of importance as I juggle the needs of everyone but me, inevitably resulting in a deep feeling of emptiness.
These periods of collapse happen to all of us. They are so painful, but they offer so much when we see their gifts.
Standing there in the rubble, we get to choose which pieces to pick up, dust off and put back into place, and which pieces to leave lying on the ground as we rebuild.
We get to leave the shadows of the pain we have clung to and integrated into the false ideas of who we are.
We get to let go of the grievances and resentments that have limited us and caused us to doubt ourselves and others.
We get to free ourselves from the expectations of others that never felt right to us, because now we have nothing to lose by doing so.
We get to walk away from the guilt that has lived in our heart for far too long, for mistakes we made that others have long since forgotten, but that we refused to release, continuing to punish ourselves by clinging to them.
And in the void left by all these pieces we refuse to pick back up, we get to place the things that matter most to us - the people, the beliefs, the dreams, the confidence and the love.
We get to embrace the unknown like we did as children. We get to embrace not knowing, not needing to control everything in our world for fear that if we drop one ball, they will all come crashing down. Because we’ve now seen that the balls can fall, and we will be ok.
We get to wake up every day knowing that by choosing what pieces we pick back up, we have surrounded ourselves with only those people and things that support us, and we get to trust that whatever happens will be for our highest good.
We get to walk in love, breathing in the magic of each new moment, finding the joy that is in every situation, even the challenging ones.
We get to chase our dreams with weightless confidence, having left the doubts and the doubters in the rubble.
We get to see challenges not as “proof” that we are incapable, but as opportunities to remember that we have what it takes to make it through. Because now we know the truth–
When everything falls around us, what always remains is the one truly invincible thing- who we are at our core.
So when life throws pain our way, we will not grasp desperately at the pieces crumbling around us. Instead we will stay the course and trust, waiting with excitement to see what’s left in the rubble, eager to rebuild the reality that is true to who we are.
Because once we are free of all that is not us, we are free to love ourselves, exactly as we are.
And we get to honor who we are by picking back up only those things worthy of our greatness.