A series of blogs for the broken…
There was a time I thought a miscarriage was the worst thing that could happen to me. I prayed it would never happen because I couldn’t imagine how I would ever be able to deal with something like that. I knew it would break me. Then last year, after trying to get pregnant for 15 months, I got pregnant and promptly miscarried. I felt broken at the time, but I got through it. And today I see why not having another child at this moment is the right path for me; is a good path for me. I have plans, and I’m excited about the upcoming months and years.
When I discovered my abs had split during pregnancy, I thought that was the worst thing that could happen to me. I thought I had the worst luck. But that incident is the sole reason I began exercising. It’s the reason I delved into fitness and it’s the reason I’m stronger today. It led me to find my passion and for that I am thankful.
There was a time I thought the umbilical hernia was the worst thing ever. It bulged and was ugly and meant I had to hide my belly. But today I’m not hiding my belly, and I don’t feel like less by revealing it. It has taught me not to obsess about perfection and to embrace even the things about my body I don’t love. For that I am thankful.
I understand brokenness. I have felt broken more times than I can recount. But I can look back today at my most broken times and see how they are the reason for my strength today. I look back and see how breaking that girl who believed she was weak allowed room to create this woman that knows she is strong.
Brokenness is important. When you face your weaknesses, and overcome even that which you thought would destroy you, you discover a strength that is unshakable and a power that is unbreakable.
Winston Churchill famously said, “if you are going through hell, keep going”. What that means to me is that when you are at your worst, at your most broken, at your most defeated; don’t stop. Refuse to stay there. Why would you stay in hell? Keeping moving. Crawl forward if that’s what it takes, and get yourself out of there. And when you look back and see how even hell couldn’t hold you back, you’ll realize that nothing can.
You may feel broken today, but remember that nothing new can be built without first breaking what was there before.
For a whole year I tried to get pregnant. I tracked my cycle, monitored my fertility and took my vitamins. Every month for a year I wept. Then one month I actually got that positive I was waiting for. I was excited. I told my whole family. I showed everyone the 3 tests. I started planning my future with 3 kids. Then barely a week later I miscarried. Lost the baby. Bled out. Disappointment.
That was definitely a low point for me. Something I believed couldn’t happen to me, but here I was facing it. I’d prayed so hard for this baby and been so thankful for this pregnancy and yet despite it all it was taken away from me so quickly it left my head spinning.
Where was God in this? Why didn’t He listen to my prayers? Why wouldn’t He give me my desires?
That was 3 months ago. Since then I have found myself in reach of a bunch of opportunities I know would not be possible if I was pregnant. I’ve had 4 photoshoots with 2 more planned in the next month. I’ve decided to enter a burlesque show. I travelled to get my personal training certification. I have projects in the works for the new year.
For a year I focused on getting pregnant and closed myself off to any other opportunities. The Bible says God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways not our ways. I was always convinced I knew the way, but lately I’m learning the value of letting go.
I’ve always placed my happiness in things external to me. As a young girl I believed being popular, feeling accepted by others would make me happy. I believed having a boyfriend, i.e. being found attractive by others would make me happy. And as a mother when I started to feel lost again I believed having more children was the answer to my happiness.
Although I believed at a point that a miscarriage would break me, it didn’t. And in a way I’m thankful for it. Because it make me re-focus. The month I miscarried was the last month I cried over a period. It was the last month I tracked my cycle. It was the last month I monitored my fertility. The miscarriage forced me to let go. And it did something else. It made me realize that I couldn’t depend on that baby for completion. What if it never came? Was I going to live the rest of my life incompete?
You can’t base your happiness on external factors: on that man, on that job, on that baby, on that body. You have to start looking to yourself and finding the things that set your soul on fire. When you find your passion, there you will find your happiness. And that is something external factors cannot take from you.
My cousin asked me why I didn’t purse modelling. I told her at age 30, with 2 children it really wasn’t a reality for me anymore. But the truth is I did pursue it as a child. The irony of the modelling opportunities of late is that as a teenager I tried so hard to be a model. I created a portfolio, sent applications to agencies, even made it into the top 50 for Britain’s Next Top Model out of 30,000 applicants. But I was not a confident teenager, and in the end my self-consciousness always held me back. I didn’t know who I was and what I could take at 16. At 30 I definitely do.
The best lessons can sometimes be the hardest. But don’t always run from them because what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Sometimes you have to face the pain. Let the pain sink in. And see that the pain didn’t destroy you. You are made of stronger things.
Today I’m thankful for the harsh lessons; for the diastasis recti that forced me to exercise, for the hernia that forced me to let go of perfection, for the miscarriage that forced me to refocus on my heart.
Did you know the benefits of exercise happen in the recovery? Exercise, in and of itself, harms the body. It breaks down cells and it makes muscles weaker; that’s why your muscles fatigue; that’s why you get tired.
The benefits of exercise come in the healing. As your muscles heal post workout, and during your rest days, the fibers bind to create strong bonds. As you recover, your body becomes better because of the exercise. But first there is brokenness.
So often we try to run from our pain, or question why it even exists. It exists because the power of pain comes in the healing. You can never experience healing until you experience brokenness. When you exercise, you are broken. But your muscles fibers are like, “ok, so that load broke us. So guys, let’s make stronger bonds this time so we won’t be so easily broken”.
Though none of us want pain; pain teaches, and heartache strengthens.
Sometimes it’s necessary to be broken, because the benefits of brokenness comes in the healing.
(This is also the reason for the foolishness of #nodaysoff. If you give your body no opportunity, or time to recover then exercising can be more detrimental to it than useful. Instead of getting stronger, you just get weaker and more susceptible to injury.)
All photographs taken by Adrien Barrieau Photography at Through the Glass