Has a comment ever stunned you so much that it seared into your memory banks as something you never seem to forget? 35 years ago, that happened to me. I was listening to a highly successful man reflect back on what he initially perceived to be one of the worst experiences of his life.
He had been on top of the world, assuming all was well with his promising career in the advertising department of a leading Atlanta company. Then, one Friday afternoon, the unthinkable happened and he was fired. Done. Rejected. Broken. Hopeless. That was “the real thing” for him.
What this wise man shared was that because of that unwanted dismissal, he ended up forming his own advertising agency, and achieved great financial success and personal fulfillment over the next several decades. If he hadn’t been fired from the “dream job,” he probably would not have had the courage or need to start his own business.
We were discussing the verse in Romans 8:28 that asserts “we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” All things? Yes, all. Does it mean that everything that happens to us is good? Absolutely not. But God can and will take our broken pieces, our heartbreaks and our disappointments and create beautiful results if we let Him.
That wise man’s perspective was enlightening to me, maybe because I was relatively young in my own career. Over the course of the last several decades, I have seen that same truth play out in my own life and in the lives of countless others.
So many people are suffering right now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lives have been lost, unemployment is staggering, and some businesses will never reopen. Pain shows itself in countless ways everywhere we look. Is Romans 8:28 still true for those who love God, even in 2020? With all my heart, I believe it is.
Two years ago, I was devastated to learn that my new husband, my “Prince Charming,” was being unfaithful with multiple women. How could good possibly come from that? At the time, it was hard to imagine. But I clung to the gold thread of truth that God would create beauty from the ashes of my life. I knew it might take a while to see any good result from that nightmare, but I believed it would come eventually. Yes, Virginia, good has come, and I am confident that much more good is yet to come.
Have you ever seen woods that have been destroyed by fire? Eventually, sprigs of fresh, green growth start popping up amidst the charred remains. New life arises.
In my life, I have already seen those sprigs of growth with the motivation and creativity to write a book for women facing widowhood. More to come very soon on that, but my prayer is that God will use the lessons I have learned, and the humor I have seen in even the most challenging situations, to encourage and uplift others.
The centuries-old Japanese tradition of kintsugi (which means “golden repair”) beautifully depicts the beauty that can come from brokenness. When an object breaks, the kintsugi technique involves using gold dust and resin or lacquer to mend the broken pieces. The result is something more beautiful and stronger than the original piece.
As we move forward in 2020, how will we deal with brokenness and disappointment in our own lives? Will we love God and trust that good will eventually come from our pain? Will we root out bitterness over what has happened? Will we look for the blessings, the new opportunities, the new ideas that have resulted? Will we see our scars and brokenness as part of our grand design and allow God to produce something beautiful in us and through us?
That’s my prayer for you and for me.