There are times, when we least expect it, when the gravity of moments strike at our hearts and tears caress our cheek bones. This happened to me yesterday morning as I was attending a morning devotion at Harvest Farm. One of the staff members, Tommy, was giving a daily testimony and sharing with us wisdom he earned through hardship and heartbreak. The bible speaks of wisdom as such; to whom much wisdom is given, much sorrow is bestowed. This is the struggle that we all face; we earn wisdom through the experiences of life as we get mugged by pains and injury that eventually envelops us into darkness.
Sorrow comes for all; from prince to pauper, in time all of us are subsumed by hopelessness as light leaves us and shadows become our best friends. Though we all deal with hardship differently, some medicate, some overachieve, and others get swallowed whole by it, the common factor of humanity is the wounds we all suffer as we live life. I have my share of scars that I have collected over time; scars that mauled my happiness and shrouded me into a seemingly perpetual ennui. What I feared most, the thought that I might end up despondent the way that a person close to my heart was once undone by sadness, happened to me. The irony of it all; that which we fear the most and try not to be the hardest is that which we become—being radically different than something is really the same thing when avoidance becomes our playbook.
This is my wound that I am mending and the handcuff that I am freeing my soul from. It was this journey of discovery, along with a whale that came for me, that led me into an exodus of sorts that served as my pathway to Wellington, Colorado. Alone and dejected, I found myself at the Fort Collins Rescue Mission on May 1st 2016 unsure of the future. Burdened by the present and distressed over my past, I was in shambles and in a place of hopelessness that I thought was permanent. I had lost all and my reputation and what I worked for was in tethers and destroyed. Between the enemy of me and the adversary of incomprehensible malice, I became an island unto myself. It hit me like a hydrogen bomb the minute I sat down next to a “hobo” by the train tracks when I first got to Fort Collins—I had become a statistic.
My will to live was sapped and almost nonexistent; lacking the courage to end my plight, I decided that I was going to live a life of never ending repentance and anguish. I could not imagine renewal; I felt abandoned by God and by all whom I once called loved ones. In all honesty, I don’t blame them for I abandoned myself in the process. Broken and dead broke, all I had was a flicker of hope in the midst of a winter of discontent and replete woes. I was a fusion of David and Job, at once calling out for God as I was cursing His existence. I wanted to disavow my faith and become bitter, but a light within me kept burning and refused to let me give up on hope or the revival that seemed impossible. My mind said no but my heart kept pumping and pushing forward—during the darkest moments, a fire burns that eventually bathes us in abundance.Harvest Farm became my sanctuary and my incubator. Almost a year later, I look back and realize that hardship is in fact a blessing. It was this wisdom that I gained through fire and distress that I was reflecting upon during Tommy’s morning devotion when all the sudden my mind was jarred from introspection to astonishment. Tommy put on a video by Trent Shelton titled “Your Life is not Over” where eight people are sitting in a circle and all of them are sharing their crucibles. I will let you watch the video below for yourself and experience the message without me tainting the meaning with my own interpretation. But in the first few seconds of the video, the depth and the substance of Trent’s words along with the visual floored me—the flood gates from my eyes opened and broken water (tsebel) blessed me.
This is my note to the broken from a likewise broken soul. Whether you are at the beginning of the dark hole or emerging from it, please take away from this article and the video below this one thing. We are not our circumstance and our present situations don’t define us. When all seems lost, that is the precise time we find meaning. Don’t give up and do not give your hand to depression or anxiety; whether you believe in God or not is not the reason I wrote this article. I am not here to evangelize nor am I here to convince you to convert. Your faith or lack of it is between you and your belief system; the one thing I want you to believe is in yourself and that you are a conqueror—victory is not based on status or accumulation.
As for me, it took a mind bending odyssey and a soul sucking journey to finally find my purpose. An empty life spent chasing validation and the desires of the flesh led to many accomplishments but emptiness. I was like a shrub in a desert as I gave to others all the time in order to find acceptance. It took the flames of hell to lick away this brokenness of mine and find a love within me instead of seeking inclusion without. I was the pen that wrote tribulation into my life for too long; now I’m the broken crayon that draws blessings for myself and others even as I reside in a life of indigence. I never had this happiness when I was making six figures as a high priced consultant; now I am imbued with joys while making minimum wage. Wealth, you see, is not in your possessions but in how you possess the day and seize meaning in the spaces of the meaningless.For those caught up in a struggle and trying to find purpose, just know that a season of drought will in time give way to a season of abundance—the light emerges from the darkest corners. I am a testimony of this as are countless souls around you. Do not let the antipathy of others invert your happiness nor let the circumstances of this world bury you into the pits of sadness. Meaning is found in the midst of the seemingly meaningless—the same way we struggle is the way we eventually thrive and find joys. Just as a babies is born through pain and turmoil as they leave the womb and enter into a world of tumult, in time we find love in the embrace of the hands that still our apprehension. A season of harvest is nourished by the the fertilizer that is hardship. In the same place we fall, we eventually rise as champions. When life seems bleak and all is lost, just remember your life is not over.
The root of our sorrow will become the very source of our power the minute we understand the love within us.
If you love this article and the hope that is found within it, share this article far and wide and counter the hatred of the world with a love within all of us. Use #RiseLifeNotOver and make sure you check out Trent Shelton’s video “Your Life is not Over” below that inspired this article.
Make sure to follow Trent Shelton on Twitter @TrentShelton and like his page on Facebook as well by clicking HERE or on the picture below. Thank you Trent for your spoken words, you are speaking love into the world’s brokenness!
We are all poets without knowing it. Nah I don’t mean poets in ways we rhyme words, I mean poets in how we find meaning in the meaningless. Check out my own version of spoken words below.
Last note, all of you reading this, please don’t give up on yourselves and this world, please speak love into the brokenness and let love mend all of us.
Mangled roots and warped branches yet these things bear fruit. #Soul2Soil
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
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