There are all kinds of survivors. Survivors of loss. Survivors of abuse. Survivors of addiction. Survivors of atrocities. Survivors of betrayals of all types.
What all survivors have in common is that they survived. It doesn’t matter what they survived. The fact that they survived is enough.
To survive implies to have been beaten up. To survive means you have been knocked down.
To survive one must have been scrapped and kicked and battered and bruised. Sometimes physically. Always mentally, emotionally and spiritually. To survive means you have been broken. However, survival means no matter how broken you are, you are still here, still holding on, broken but not completely coming apart.
And though we wouldn’t wish brokenness on anyone, brokenness isn’t without opportunity-possibility even beauty – after all, it is that very brokenness that can make a survivor stronger, sturdier and that much more able to survive.
The survivor is like a Jack Pine tree. In the words of the poet, Douglas Wood, quoted in Parker Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness:
“Jack pines … are not lumber trees (and they) won’t win many beauty contests either. But to me, this valiant old tree, solitary on its own rocky point, is as beautiful as a living thing can be. In the calligraphy of its shape against the sky is written strength of character and perseverance, survival of wind, drought, cold, heat, disease. In its silence, it speaks of wholeness – an integrity that comes from being what you are.”
Survivors may or may not win any beauty contests, but they are valiant, they are brave, and they are beautiful. Wind, drought, cold, heat, disease – no matter what you have faced, if you are here, if you are reading this, if you are still choosing life.
You are a survivor. You are more, not less, beautiful for having survived – and in your brokenness, waiting to be discovered, lies the secrets to a hidden wholeness. Keep on surviving.