Once upon a time, there were two little stones. One was made of brecciated jasper and the other of green aventurine.
They were both heart-shaped stones of similar size, and they experienced the exact same kind of trauma just a few minutes apart.
Even though they were clearly different kinds of stones, this trauma they experienced caused each of them to break into four main pieces and a variety of smaller pieces.
You would think that the rebuilding and repair of the two stones would likewise be quite similar, but there is an important difference between the two that makes the rebuilding of them substantially different in the amount of time and effort required.
To best show the impact of this difference, I've created a short video (my first ever!) to demonstrate why this difference matters so much. It's just over 8 minutes long, so give it a quick watch.
As fascinating as the repair process for stones may be, what does this have to tell us about our own rebuilding of the broken places in our lives?
First of all, it's a clear reminder to use caution in comparing the progress our healing to that of someone else whose life experiences and circumstances may look similar on the surface.
It also brings up important issues of how we support ourselves and the reassembly of our broken pieces as we go about the rebuilding process, but I've written about the importance of getting the right support when rebuilding on unsteady ground before, so I don't need to cover that again.
As I worked on this video over the last week, I found myself making a much more radical connection between these two stones and our own rebuilding process.
Stones obviously either have a flat surface on them or they don't. It's always going to be one or the other.
As humans, it's not nearly so cut and dry.
I suspect most of feel a lot more like the brecciated jasper heart stone with its rounded edges as we begin putting our lives back together after they get broken in some way.
We find ourselves juggling all the little pieces, frantically trying to hold them all together long enough to figure out where they all fit. In the middle of that wounded place, it's hard to tell what to keep and what to let go of, what matters and what doesn't, or how we will ever hold them together long enough for a repair to set them in place.
Despite feeling like the brecciated jasper heart, we have the ability (unlike stones) to move ourselves more toward the green aventurine heart type of flat-backed life to help orient our healing process.
What does a flat back look like in real life?
My first thought is of the parents I've known who have faced broken places in life. I've noticed that, for many of them (especially those with small children), the key thing that helps them through the rebuilding process is a focus on their children.
It's not that their children become their supports or a foundation that they rest upon. Rather, their focus on being the best parent to their children that they can be in the midst of their difficulties guides their decisions about how they go about healing and rebuilding.
Their responsibility to their children becomes the "flat back" that orients them and facilitates how they move through the challenges.
It's not the only kind of "flat back" possible to have in life. There are many other ways to the same thing (which is fortunate for those of us without children).
When my whole life fell apart on so many levels several years ago now, I felt very much like the brecciated jasper stone with no solid edges to help me rebuild.
I'd had this dream of being self-employed doing creative work that helped improve the lives of others for many years, but I'd never had the courage to go for it because it seemed like too big of a risk in my settled, comfortable life.
With everything already in pieces, it seemed like the right time to take a gamble and see what I could create that met my dream.
Over time, I gradually became like a parent to this fledgling little dream as it began to take shape and grow. As I sifted through the broken pieces, that became the "flat back" that helped me decide which pieces to keep and which to let go of.
My focus on creating and building a business oriented my choices in a way that facilitated the rebuilding of my life because it gave me a constant target of becoming the person I needed to be to make that a success.
I still had many failures along the way and many detours and do-overs and wobbles, but it was still a steady focus that was like a stone's flat back in making it easier to fit the pieces I chose to keep back together, to get them to stay in place, and to create repairs (healing) that fit the new life I was trying to build.
It gave me a focus for the me I was aspiring to become that was much more energizing and stabilizing than any attempts I made to focus on what I used to be.
That choice to focus on a compelling vision of who we aspire to become is something that any one of us can do to help orient and stabilize ourselves during times of rebuilding.
It allows all of us to create a "flat back" for ourselves whenever we need one.
Do you have a clear vision of who you aspire to be in the rebuilding of your life? What does that vision entail?
How can create that kind of vision (if you don't have one) or make it clearer in your mind (if you do have one)?
How does the pursuit of that vision of who you want to become function as a "flat back" for you?
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