I’ve embraced the second-half of my life. I’m now a “senior” who has the freedom to say what I believe with a higher degree of cultural tolerance than I had when I was younger. Or maybe it’s simply that I speak less, listen more, and no longer feel the need to reconcile contradictions. I’m again enchanted with life’s mysteries as I was as a child, and I defer the judgment of people, religions, beliefs, and behaviors to a Higher Power. I’m more focused on loving others and exposing the lies I tell myself than I am with the things that used to matter.
Looking back, my life has been a tale of two lives: Separate, but integrated. Perhaps it is with us all. For every deep happiness, there has been deep sorrow. For every great love, there has been great loss. Despite all the good that I have done, I have sinned and I have hurt others. I have been shown compassion, understanding, mercy, and forgiveness by some; I have been judged, ridiculed, discredited, and ostracized by others. I have won and I have lost. I have been respected and rewarded; I have been shamed and punished. I have been treated fairly; I have been treated unjustly. I have been treated gently and I have not. I have both known God and I have strayed from Him. I have been spiritually lost, and I have been spiritually found.
It would have been impossible for me to have the meaningful relationship I have with God now had I not borne the loss, sorrow, failures, emotional scars, and defeats I have known. With God’s grace, my pride had to be humbled. With God’s mercy, my ego had to “die” before my true self could be reborn. I had to lose hope in order to find it. I had to risk losing my faith in order to fight for it. I would not love others completely had I not learned to love myself as I am; had I not felt God’s unconditional love for me.
My greatest period of spiritual growth followed my greatest fall — my greatest failure and humiliation. In order to resurrect me from the spell of spiritual slumber, God had to shatter my pride, my ego, and my beliefs to the very core. As Mother Goose’s nursery rhyme so accurately predicted when I was a child:
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty back together again.”
It is I who am Humpty Dumpty. At some point in our lives, I believe we all are.
The wall upon which I sat was built from bricks made of worldly values, social approval, and other material things. My fall was the act of love by a merciful God who created a great imbalance in my life — a great trial that destroyed my life as I knew it — in order to free me from the shell that was my comfort zone. The king’s men and the king’s horses are those worldly temptations and addictions I used to put my faith in, creating a shell that kept my relationship with God contained. They masquerade as the king and the king’s horses in the worldly kingdom, but they have no power to heal me or carry me spiritually. They have no authority or status in God’s Kingdom.
In hindsight, I’m glad I fell off the wall. It was terrifying, unexpected, and it hurt badly, but it was a fall into grace (although I didn’t recognize it at the time).
I believe that God allows hardships not to hurt us, but to help us. I believe that in a way, life happens for us — not to us. I believe challenges are essential to our spiritual growth. I believe no one escapes spiritual, emotional, or physical pain. It’s part of the human experience; everyone falls. The question is not whether we will fall, but when. Whether we get up again as somebody new who is spiritually stronger, whether we whether we spend the rest of our lives futilely trying to piece together the fragments of someone we once were, or whether we give up when that happens to us, is our choice to make. With God’s grace, we will have the faith in God to change and develop a more meaningful and rewarding relationship with Him.
With Christ’s help, we will not turn to worldly solutions to put us back together again.