I know I’m not the only person that has ever reached a point of utter frustration or pitiful state of self-pity, that cried out, “Why does this always happen to me!” Who has ever said, “It seems like every time things start going my way, something always has to happen!” It would be nice to say that this only happened “a long time ago” or “in my early days”, because that would sound SO much better. (As if it was no longer a problem for me now.) To say that however, would be an utter and complete lie. The truth is, that this line of thinking is one of the easiest places for my mind to turn when things don’t go my way.
Many years ago, (around 1985), I lived at a Christian program for young women and had a wise preacher tell me, (after one of my more vocal whining rants), that going through difficult times was part of a process to make us stronger. Of course, being sober all of maybe 60 days and still walking around in a heavy mind fog, I responded with, “Huh?” What he would share next, would change my entire outlook on this aspect of life and remain with me to this very day, and that was:
”Have you ever bought one of those really cheap hammers? The ones which are so fragile, that if you hit a hard surface with enough force it would just break? The reason that happens is because the metal is full of impurities, which cause it to be or become easily fractured, ultimately resulting in a break. But there are the other really high dollar hammers and they will last a lifetime, (in fact they often come with that exact guarantee), and the reason for this is because they contain almost no impurities at all.
Impurities found in various metals are removed through a lengthy refining process, in which the blacksmith will “fire” the liquid metal, raising it to extremely high temperatures causing impurities within it to raise to the surface, at which point those impurities will then be ladled off, removing them from the liquid metal and then allowing it to cool. Once cooled it will then be fired up again and this process will continue until the majority of all of the impurities are out, resulting in a strong and unbreakable metal”
He went on to tell me: “This is what God does within us. He is the blacksmith and we are the metal ~ full of impurities that cause us to be easily broken. The challenges in life are the fire, which bring up the weaknesses and character flaws, (impurities), within us that cause us to be easily fractured. We are strengthened through this firing process, because in the end we will become strong and unbreakable.”
Later in my life, when I learned about the 12-steps and how to apply them, I realized that what he had told me way back then was indeed the truth. In working these 12 principles, I am able to identify my defects of character, (that is…the weaknesses and/or things I don’t like about myself) and my shortcomings, (which are…the areas in which I fall short of desirable and healthy qualities) – the very impurities that for so much of my life caused me to be easily wounded and broken.
I then have two options:
(1) Ask my Creator, (my blacksmith), to remove them from me, and as a result of their removal become, (through that experience), stronger in the knowledge that God is always with me and that whatever situation I’m in at that moment, (no matter how bad), “will pass!”
(2) I also have the option to ignore these defects and simply allow them to just settle back in… or better yet, try on my own strength to make them go away. Both of which I have done on more than one occasion and both of which resulted in nothing changing and remaining fractured and easily broken in those areas.
So, in my final assessment, I have found that the difficult times in which life has thrown, (and continues to throw), challenges my way; By using the principles I’ve learned, (which connect me to God), I will then to have the ability to face and go through ANYTHING that comes my way. It affords me the opportunity to learn what my frailties are and allow God to remove them, ultimately resulting in becoming stronger and not so easily fractured.
Certainly I have not reached a point of rejoicing in the hardships that come along in life, but thankfully I have attained the knowledge, (which only comes through experience), that during the moments in life which most often produce feelings of confusion, pain and despair; I can look back upon those experiences with reassurance in the knowledge that things will be OK – that things will work out AND that this to shall pass.
©2007-2014 Rebecca Balko