Recently I wrote to those people who are no longer in my life, and it got me thinking about the flip side: those who still are. Relationships don’t always survive the test of time, and that’s ok. But the ones that do; the ones that carry you through the tough times and revel in the prosperous ones with you are worth accentuating to the fullest extent. The only thing constant in life is change, and relationships are no exception. Beliefs change, circumstances change, and even people change, putting all kinds of unions in jeopardy. But sometimes, beliefs change in tandem. Sometimes, circumstances bring us closer than we were before. And sometimes, people change simultaneously: hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder. Sometimes, people walk into our lives and we realize that all the unanswered calls, all the closed doors, and all the heartbreak has led us right to that wonderful moment, where our hearts discover how to beat again.
We as people can have a tendency to highlight the troubles, the bad experiences, and maybe most of all, the pain, when we reflect. This isn’t because we are all hopeless or cynical, but maybe more so because pain and suffering are terrifying. Often times we think if we bask in the hardships, maybe the next heartbreak will leave a smaller crack, or maybe the next speed bump won’t rattle our bones as senselessly. The tough times often become the highlights when we look back. And on the flip side, the good stuff – especially the seasoned and subtle good stuff, like the wonderful people who are there through it all- is often overlooked.
How often have you looked back on your recent past and the first things that come to mind are the headache from the flat tire, the cost associated with the broken appliance, or the damage to the furniture the dog chewed up? But what about the hug from your mother who you only see every few months? Or the recognition from your co-workers for your 20 years of service? Someone wise once said that happiness is fleeting. Those little things: the appreciation and the celebrations can feel fleeting. They’re parts of the side of life that we sometimes have to make an effort to place our full trust in. But, risky as it may be, it’s that side of life that holds the key to unlocking the armor that many of us have so strategically placed around our hearts.
Now, the only way any of us will ever find true contentment is by finding it within. No other person can provide you with happiness or peace, nor is it their responsibility to. Your ability to be content with your circumstances, with your life and with yourself has to come from within ultimately. But that doesn’t mean that your people don’t hold many of the puzzle pieces that constitute the map of the winding path you walk down every single day. Community, relationship, and connection are among the few vital signs found on all of our life monitors. We may have been designed to provide for ourselves at the most basic level, but we cannot always stand tall when the ground shakes, stand up when the wind blows and stay dry when the rain falls. We all need others’ shoulders to lean on, hands to hold, and arms to lay in when the weight of the world becomes too heavy for our own.
We are all broken. Every single one of us. We all survey and perceive life through very unique lenses with all different kinds of baggage in tow. And while circumstances and situations are different for everyone, no one can walk through life without encountering storms. None of our stories are exclusively painted with vibrant brush strokes, without a few dark chapters etched in the mix. In a world where loss often cloaks the sunlight, hate can seep insidiously into our pores, and death can seem to be nothing but inevitable – we are all, understandably, broken. So many of us believe that broken means unlovable and hopeless, but it’s just the opposite – it’s what makes us wonderful.
The cracks and the scars within each of us only add to the intangible and unique individuality that make us each who we are at any given moment. The broken parts of us are what allow the light to shine through, and maybe more importantly, they allow us to emanate that light back out into the world. We are all going to get angry at some point, say things we desperately wish we could take back, push people away precisely when we need them most, and project what hurts us on to others. Pain, loss, death, you name it – they all have a way of tugging at our heartstrings, shattering our sense of hope, and dimming the light that once glistened in our eyes. Those are the moments when it’s most dispiriting to stay by someone’s side, but those are also the moments when you need your people the most.
But the thing is, no one person owes any other person anything. We don’t only choose to begin and end relationships of all sorts, we choose to continue them, every single day. It may not seem that this is the case, because oftentimes decisions are associated with something new; such as a beginning or an end. But every single day, the people in your life choose you, time and time again, regardless of the storms that may rage beneath your skin. There are no shackles that confine someone when it comes to relationships. That’s certainly not to say that walking away from relationships isn’t an arduous feat, but ultimately it is up to each of us to stay or to leave, to hold on or to let go, to extend our hearts, or to retreat.
That’s why we should always surround ourselves with people who see the wonder in us and because of it, choose to stay, every single day. Surround yourself with those who see you through your pain. With those people who remind you of your worth. With those people who show your grace in its most stoic form. With those who take the light you want to reject, and cast it over you. With those who are immovable when all you want to do is push them away. With those people who show you how to open your eyes, when all you can do is close them. And maybe most of all, surround yourself with those who love every little broken piece of you. Even when they have every right, every ability, and every reason to go, they don’t waiver. Always surround yourself with those people who love you at your worst, at your best, and everything in between.
Your bones may break, hearts may acquire new scars, and vision may sometimes be clouded by pain, but if you fall into the arms of your people, you will never suffer – you will only come back stronger than you were before. Surround yourself with wonder, and more importantly with wonderful people. We all have immense wonder dancing in our hearts and minds that is just itching to make its way to the surface. Sometimes all we need to do is encircle ourselves with those people who can see it within us because life is messy, and we can’t always see it ourselves. And when you do find those people, hold onto them, and seize every opportunity you can to show them that they, too, are boundlessly wonderful.