I heard an amazing song last week about the power of being able to walk on broken glass after your world has shattered. I would not have thought to put it that way, but it’s so true. Life does not go as planned; I think anyone reading this right now could agree with that statement. Sometimes it goes way better than we could have ever expected, and other times it disintegrates right in front of our eyes, as though our plan was never even a part of this world in the first place. One of my favorite stories of having things go blissfully off course is from a couple of years ago.
It was two days before Christmas, and I was excited to head home to Wyoming from NYC. Being Dutch, we always celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve (yes, we open every single present the day before Christmas). So, for me, it was more like the day before Christmas. Not wanting to miss a flight so critical to my holiday happiness, I arrived at La Guardia super early. Now, anyone who has flown to/from NYC knows what it means to spend any more time than you have to at La Guardia. However, this flight was worth it to me. So, you can imagine my shock when I got to my gate, and my flight was overbooked, with no remaining seats on flights going out of LGA that day. I think it’s also important to note that this was all happening at 5 AM. I took a deep breath, praying I was not bumped off of the flight. The announcer came back on and said that if we did not voluntarily give up our seats, and were forcefully bumped, there might be no flights left at all.
Fine. I decided to see if JFK had any later flights out and gave up my seat. Waiting in the massive line, I made friends with a guy about my age next to me. We started discussing how much money we’d be willing to take to switch flights, and made a deal that we would only do it if we could get out via JFK that night. When it was my turn, he came up with me. I mean, we already had a plan that involved both of us, so…
Thinking we were a couple, they bartered with us together and gave us a nice lump sum of cash, and then booked us on the same flight out of JFK a whopping eight hours later. They also gave us a voucher for a shared ride to JFK.
So now, instead of spending the day baking my family’s traditional Christmas cookies in my dad’s home, I would be spending it with a complete stranger, who everyone thought I was with, at JFK airport. I took a deep breath and decided that I had nothing left to do but go with the flow. And guess what? I had one of the best days I have ever had to this day in my life. We bought a deck of (Santa) cards at the airport, and I learned numerous new card games I did not even know existed. I also taught him a few myself. We laughed over drinks at an airport bar by early afternoon, and then shared our stories of moving from the Colorado/Wyoming area to NYC. The truth is, I was in the middle of an awful, destructive relationship at the time. I had barely spoken to someone my age, outside of my boyfriend, over the last few months. I was excited to go home for the holidays, but also dreading not having my boyfriend there with me. Seeing all of the couples in the airport was not making things any better.
Then I ended up stuck for eight hours in an airport during the busiest time of travel of the year, with a stranger, and I felt happy again for the first time in a while. That random day had a way of totally shaking up what had become my norm and pointing me to an entirely different, healthier path.
By the time I landed in Denver, we were buddies and exchanged numbers. That day will always be a critical day in my self-journey.
While those upset plans proved to explode my life in the best way possible, I’ve had other plans that have turned into more of, well…broken glass.
I was in an abusive marriage and had to figure out how to come out on the other side of that. My sister dying was never in my plans, yet I have to walk daily on the broken glass she left behind.
So how do we do it? How do we suck it up, hold our breath and feel the pain in its fullness as we cross to the other side?
I can only speak for myself, but my faith has always gotten me across the sharp glass. Believing there is something so much more beautiful than the situation I was in, waiting for me on the other side >> that is everything.
To be honest, though, my faith isn’t always at its strongest. Sometimes it’s hard to see what ‘something better’ could even possibly exist. I get discouraged, frustrated, and want to just cry to the world that I am dealing with broken glass over here– and they wouldn’t dare walk over it either.
Where will that get me, though? In a pity party surrounded by other discouragers? No, thank you.
I don’t give myself a choice. To me, there is no choice but to walk on the broken glass. I have to sustain the cuts and the mess and the uncomfortable feelings. There is no choice but to trust God and keep on walking.
Here are five things that I take on my journey of walking across broken glass, that never fail:
Prayer, meditation, reflection >> whatever you want to call it, it’s essential. My conversations with God are some of the most influential conversations I ever have. They reveal what’s in my heart, and what I need to do to move forward in my life. I even surprise myself sometimes during these conversations, realizing I am hurt by things I thought I got over a long time ago. By bringing these things to the open, and admitting them to myself, I’m able to move past them and let go finally.
I don’t stray too far from my family. I’m lucky to have been raised in such a supportive, Christian family. They can provide insight to help make the broken glass a little less sharp, and encourage me as I continue my journey. We have a healthy relationship because I chose to be completely honest and transparent with them from an early age. We have no secrets, so I know the advice and love they are giving me is based on who I am as a person.
Not everyone has this relationship with their family. If you don’t, look for the helpers and encouragers in your life. They could be a best friend, a teacher, a neighbor. Hold them close during your walk.
I’m a writer, so this is something I usually always have on me. Blank pages can create miracles during walks across broken glass. They reveal what we are thinking, in its most raw form, which, in turn, helps us address it and heal. They can also reinforce hopes and dreams, and map out ways that we can achieve our highest hopes. Dedicate at least 20 minutes a day during your time of need to writing, and see what you learn about yourself and your strength.
An Open Mind
This one’s super important. If I had not had an open mind at the airport that day about a complete stranger, I could have ended up in total despair for not getting on my flight home for the holidays and an empty eight hours to fill when I was already grieving a relationship. Instead, I did something out of my comfort zone >> spent a day with a stranger AND played cards (not usually a game person, in all honesty 😉 ). Because I was open to doing things differently that day, I had a remarkable, healing, positive experience. This one is a tough one for me, and there are hundreds of other examples I have from my life where I had a rather shitty day because I did not have an open mind. Be open to change, and you will be amazed at how you heal yourself and others.
You also need to have an open mind and learn from your broken glass. What lesson is this moment in life trying to teach you?
Music truly is therapy and will make you completely forget that glass is beneath your feet. The sounds themselves will soothe you, but the lyrics will also help you to understand that you are not the only person who has ever had to take this walk. Other people have, and they have victoriously made it to the other side. Find an artist that gets you, and listen to them over and over and over again.
This one can be hard, but it is vital to truly walk the full path over the broken glass. We have to be humble with ourselves and what happened to ‘shatter the glass.’ What lessons are there to be learned that you can carry with you after your journey?
This is something to bring with you and take with you once you have completed your journey over the broken glass. Use it during your journey to know that you will get through this and have the strength it takes. Then convert it into the confidence you can use later, gained from getting over the glass and surviving.
We need to learn how to walk on broken glass because there will always be broken glass in our lives, and, if we don’t, we will forever stay in the dark shadows instead of ever reaching the light.
– Marji J. Sherman