How Fragile We Are.

I woke this morning to the sound of one of my closest family members crying.

The cry was one of anguish, of terror and sorrow and deep pain.

It jolted me awake.

The incident was and is still being tended to.

I come to write because apart from God it is one of the only solaces I know.

So I write to process,

I write to grieve and make sense of the nonsense.

Last night I went to bed with my world intact.

This morning,

Little fragments of it, as I hold it to the light,

Are all vulnerable and shattered.

It’s as if what happened triggered tremors that have been going off all morning.

I have been pondering the fragility of life.

We are as strong as an ox one day,

We can be lying broken with tattered wings the next.

What to do with unforeseen accidents, tragedy and trauma?

Survive first.

Our bodies, our minds are made to survive.

No time for food, or dressing in the many items we have hanging in our wardrobes,

That we have accumulated over years,

For this occasion, for that.

All at once, these things are irrelevant.

We wear what we have on as we instinctively kick into another gear,

A gear where all that matters is that we are ok.

We don’t let pain win.

We fight against it.

Then as we reel and understand the scope of what it is we are dealing with,

We battle with feeling like dust,

And that the breath of whatever comes at us could blow us away in a moment.

When we witness the emotions of trauma,

Of pain,

Of accidental loss,

And the rawness and depth of where we can go as fragile humans,

The world seems like a cruel place and the norm we thought we were safe in,

Quickly eludes us like sand slipping through an hourglass.

My friend lost her baby this week.

She was two days off full term.

She didn’t ask for that, nor did she see it coming.

But it’s here and now she needs to make sense of her reality.

My other friend has been battling cancer.

This ruthless disease that picks anyone it chooses and pulls their life apart.

My other friend was operated on after a brain tumour was detected in their brain.

The road to recovery has been slow.

Human life is fragile: we live in the space between one breath and the next.  We often try to maintain an allusion of permanence, through what we do, say, how we enjoy ourselves….Yet it is an illusion that is constantly being undermined by change and death.   Victoria Finlay

We do not know what tomorrow holds.

Today is a gift that we have been given,

We must steward it and live in it well.

We have to cry with those closest to us who are going through hard things.

We have to laugh with those who are having victories and experiencing beauty in their everyday.

It is not a time to turn our backs on those who don’t know what to do with the pain that was suddenly enforced on their worlds.

I pray this morning that those who are grieving, hurting and fighting for life or surviving traumatic injuries,

Will find peace and meaning in the midst of their storm.

We don’t let the loss win out.

Or the sadness.

Or the grief.

We rise to face it courageously,

Because that’s what we do and how we were created.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burnt.  Isaiah 43

God.

Cate x

 

 

 

 

 

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If you’re not hurting, you’re not leading

I’m reading a great book right now.

Sam Chand’s book Leadership Pain.

The premise behind it is that you’ll only grow as a leader to the threshold of your pain.

Pain is defined as life’s trials.

Betrayal, disappointment, heartache, financial and emotional strain,

Failure, stress, difficulties, change and a whole host more, fall into this category.

Chand argues that leadership,

Particularly as a pastor in a christian context,

Is not only damn hard,

But is something that you can’t succeed in if you don’t know how to increase your pain threshold.

In order to advance in your capacity and growth as a leader,

You need to embrace the reality that pain is there to advance you,

Not impede you.

It’s all about the attitude you adopt toward it.

80% of pastors leave the ministry within five years.

Personally, I don’t know of any minister who hasn’t contemplated at one time or another, of leaving the ministry.

And I know a lot of pastors.

I am one of them.

Pain is a given in life.

We all experience it,

We are all faced with challenges and dark moments,

Whether you’re a pastor or not.

Chand says that when we accept that pain is a part of our lives,

And when we let it instruct, mould and teach us,

We are then better able to mature into the leaders we were meant to be.

So what is so good about pain?

And especially in a culture that says if your life isn’t glossy and perfect,

Then there’s something wrong with you?

Well, pain breeds compassion, tenacity and many other things,

But one thing it fosters so beautifully is resilience.

I know this to be true.

Some of the things I used to struggle with as a leader,

I now let slide like water off a duck’s back.

You become impervious,

Not cold or calloused,

But more resilient when you learn how to endure pain and work it to your end,

Rather than letting it control and own you.

Resilience is:

The ability of a substance to spring back into shape; elasticity, after encountering difficulties.

In Chand’s book, Bob Gass says that there are four primary traits of resilient people.

The first is that they take control of their lives instead of spending energy trying to blame others or waiting for them to bail them out.

They don’t quit even when they want to.

They look at the past and think about how they’ve handled adversity before,

And they look at the present with clear eyes and as problem solvers.

The second thing resilient people do,

Is that they surround themselves with the right people.

They may have grown up in an addicted, abusive, or abandoning family,

But they make choices today to spend time with people who live in truth and have hope for tomorrow.

Thirdly, they allow their pain to spur growth instead of collapsing in self pity.

Even when a life goal is completely blocked by disease or any other cause,

Resilient people find an open door when others only see the one that’s closed.

They creatively invest themselves in a new venture, often one that focuses on helping others who are experiencing pain from similar physical, emotional, or relational heartaches – and they make a difference.

Fourthly, resilient, pain-embracers,

Insist on changing what they can and not worry about the rest.

For resilient people,

Encounters with pain enable them to sift through their responsibilities and priorities.

Suddenly, many things that seemed important are no longer on the top of the to-do list.

But other things,

Such as people they love and a cause they can champion, are now on top.

(See Sam Chand’s Leadership Pain pp 194-195)

We are all human.

Pain is an inevitable part of life.

Any friend you have who tells you otherwise is living in denial or is faking it.

And I’d recommend finding a new friend who you can be real with.

Just a tip 😉

When pain comes,

Realise that it can be a master teacher.

That it can make you or if you let it,

Or if you choose, it can most definitely break you.

Don’t let it win.

Use it to make you an amazing leader,

A leader who others want to emulate.

Someone with courage and tenacity,

Someone who has stuck it out when everything has shouted to give up.

When the light comes after the dark,

And it will,

You will shine even more brightly and with such luminosity,

That people will ask you what your secret is.

And you will simply say,

I have learnt to grow through my pain.

Pain is meant to wake up.  People try to hide their pain.  But they’re wrong.  Pain is something to carry, like a radio.  You feel your strength in the experience of pain.  It’s all in how you carry it.  That’s what matters.  Pain is a feeling.  Your feelings are a part of you.  Your own reality.  If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality.  You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.

Jim Morrison.

 

Cate x