Nothing is Ever Wasted
That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.
What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you.
As we look back upon our lives it is particularly difficult to acknowledge that challenging seasons or experiences have meaning and purpose. Our tendency is to try and forget them, push them back into the deepest recesses of our minds. If we don’t think about them, then they didn’t happen. But the fact is they did happen and they are a vital part of our story and who we are today.
Even in the most negative, painful, difficult times, there are still things we can learn. We become stronger when we recognize that all life experiences and seasons do have a purpose, do have a meaning, do have a lesson to be learned. Nothing in life is ever wasted. Redemption is always possible because our life experiences can bring hope, strength, and healing to others and their stories. Our brokenness can be of great insight, understanding, empathy, compassion, and grace to others.
As a survivor of a concentration camp Victor Frankl once wrote: “Not only our experiences, but all we have done, whatever great thoughts we may have had, and all we have suffered, all this is not lost, though it is past; we have brought it into being. Having been is also a kind of being, and perhaps the surest kind.” Even in the darkest, most heinous, most wicked of all experiences, someone like Fankl recognized that peace and goodness could still triumph over hatred and evil, comfort and healing could triumph over pain and suffering, and life and hope could triumph over death and despair. He believed, like so many others such as Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, MLK, Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, and Aung San Suu Kyi that each verbal abuse, each loss, each disappointment, each humiliation, each blow, meant something and could be turned from its intended negative purpose into something powerful, positive, and triumphant.
Our hope for all of us in this New Year is that we can turn our most challenging and painful experiences into a means of gaining and giving strength and receiving and offering encouragement. This robs evil of its power and gives power back to where it belongs.
We have both had success as authors and found that people resonate with the stories we tell about our own challenges and brokenness. Stories of raising a child with severe and multiple disabilities. The challenges of raising four children under the age of five. Job loss. Financial uncertainty. A wife diagnosed with cancer. Living with severe pain. Our own fears and insecurities. And when we share those, that is when we connect most deeply and meaningfully with people. When we are able to show our own humanity and share what we have learned from them that is when we hear the most from others who begin to share their own pain and brokenness too. And when we see that we are not in this alone—this place of struggle, fear, loneliness, anger, and uncertainty – that’s when we begin to gain strength and find hope that helps to put the broken pieces back together again.