Strength of the Soul

“Until you are broken, you don’t know what you’re made of.”

~ Unknown

The strength of the human spirit continues to astound me.  The fact that so much positivity can be mustered in the face of adversity, challenges and heart break, speaks volumes of the capacity of the human soul.  But it often takes hitting rock bottom, or close to it, for this strength to kick in.  To be broken, before your soul can step up to the challenge of re-builing a person.

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have only had fairly small breakages occur.  A few broken hearts, a busted knee, minor health scares, but stressful all the same.  Some can cause physical pain, while others cause emotional pain.  Emotional pain sometimes worse than the physical pain.  Purely because it messes with the souls ability to fight and to re-build.  This I have experienced on a number of occasions.  Grief at the loss of loved ones or relationships, illnesses and injuries that have put a halt to the lifestyle I had constructed for myself and having to adjust to these changes can be enough to pull you down into the depths of despair, with no apparent saviour in sight.

Until fate, the universe, god, or whatever you believe in throws you a reality check.  Which unfortunately usually takes the form of someone else being in a worse situation than you.  It took a few reality checks, before I realised just how lucky I am, regardless of the physical and mental beatings my body has endured.  After some difficult personal battles, I packed up my life and ran away overseas to find myself (as most people do), only to discover that I had it okay.  I was teaching in an orphanage in Malawi, Africa and contemplating my life and it’s divine purpose in this world.  I was carrying an awful lot of emotional baggage and it was starting to weigh on me heavily.  Then I met Mary* a teenage girl living with HIV/AIDS.  She had lost both parents and her sister to the illness and now lived at the orphanage.  Mary was happy, she looked healthy and being at the orphanage she received anti-viral medication and basic health care to ensure she could live a normal life.  She had friends who loved her unconditionally, but mostly Mary was happy to be alive.  She was thankful for getting to hang out with her friends and go to school so she could learn to read and write.  This absolute willingness to except the things dealt to her and be grateful for the positives in her life, shattered my funk I had fallen into.  And reached out to my soul, pulling me back to reality.  Yes I had been through painful experiences, but look at where I was and all that I was achieving.  I have family and friends that love me and I was healthy.  What more does anyone need?

Unfortunately after a while, the memory of this situation gets lost underneath all the new stresses and challenges of life.  There is always a thread of hope left somewhere in the recesses of our soul though.  And it’s this thread of hope that once broken, we need to clutch onto with both hands and pull our selves back up again.  This is the true mark of human resilience.  The ability to keep going.

(*Name changed)


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