Here’s the thing about the really great changes in our lives: We seldom realize that they’re happening at that time.
We may be caught in the middle of a breakup, or rejected from the job of our dreams. We may be coping with the loss of a loved one or just trying to make it day to day. It never occurs to us during the times when we are altering the most that these are the times that will transform us the most. That this is growth, not regression that is bombarding our lives. That one day all of this may leave us better off than before.
The most meaningful changes in our lives tend to rip us to pieces. That is how it always goes. No rational, happy person ever steps back to examine his life and decides that he simply must change everything about it. We grow contentedly complacent when all is going well. And though we certainly don’t mind it at the time, that attitude does not move us forward. It is chaos that pushes us onward. It’s our struggles that define who we are.
The tough times in our lives serve as the truest, most unforgiving mirrors. No problem exists in a vacuum. Many of the major blows we face are simply a culmination of the things we’ve been neglecting to nurture. Maybe we constantly put ourselves ahead of our partner because we just weren’t ready to settle down. Maybe we were intimidated by our dream job, which is why we didn’t put our all into the application. Maybe the loss of a loved one stung so badly because we neglect to spend enough time with our dear ones, thinking they will be around forever. Maybe there is an endless stream of truths that the troubled times reveal in us, if we are willing to accept them. Truths that may even be big enough to alter our futures.
Nobody enjoys having their lives torn into pieces, but there is one unrelenting advantage of having this happen: We are given the opportunity to build them back up from the ground. Decide which pieces are going to move us forward and which ones have been holding us back. We get to lay down a foundation made from the strongest bricks we have, and discard all of the rest. We may have lost time and some energy. But when we begin the harrowing process of rebuilding our lives from the ground up, we are building something stronger than we’ve ever had before. Something damn near indestructible.
Growth very rarely comes to us in the form that we would like it to. But perhaps it is those harsh, unforgiving changes that alter us the most irrevocably. That lead us down the paths we have not been bold enough to walk down. That reveal in ourselves the strengths we never knew we had. These are the changes that destroy us and that build us back up. They are the changes that end up mattering. The changes that will always move us forward.