One Perspective Shift that Will Turn Your Deepest Scars into Your Greatest Opportunity

One Perspective Shift that Will Turn Your Deepest Scars into Your Greatest Opportunity

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett

As a family, we never discussed the fire that burned down our house and nearly took my life. We endured it, survived it, and moved past it. We chose not to be defined by it.

That is, until my parents sat in the first row of a church on November 22, 2003.

Their oldest son, Jim, stood on the altar in a tuxedo, the best man for their younger (and better-looking) son, John.

Watching their boys together, with their four daughters as bridesmaids, and a gorgeous woman in white named Beth about to join the family, they realized something for the first time: The terrible fire from years earlier wasn’t the end. The tragedy we’d endured as a family decades ago had a happy ending.

The fire did not take away the life their little boy could make for himself. Contrarily, it led perfectly to this place, this church, this altar, this union, this day.

The therapy and surgeries and amputations and scars and challenges culminated in a blowout celebration. It was miracle upon miracle upon miracle…looking back over the last two decades.

At the end of the service, as Beth and I walked together down the aisle, my parents were overflowing with gratitude to my doctors, to their family and friends who supported them, and most of all to God, whom we credit with the miracle of not only my survival, but an incredible life just beginning.

Less than a week after my wedding, they were writing a book about their experience years earlier. It was their story as parents experiencing the devastating news that their son had been burned. It was their story about months of waiting-room anguish, support from the community, and a miraculous triumph.

In the early stages of their book writing, I was far from encouraging. I didn’t believe there was a story to tell and encouraged them not to dredge up the past. I offered my best arguments against it. Who will read your book? Why would they care? Do you guys even know how to use a computer? I suggested they keep the story in their hearts.

They wrote their book anyway.

They called it Overwhelming Odds.

They ignored my advice.


And in doing so, they changed my life.

Imagine this: the mask you’ve so carefully constructed to hide behind your entire life is removed. You know, the one that tells the world you’re fine, you’re all good, your kids are perfect, you have no problems, there are no addictions, no worries, no scars? Imagine that it is taken gently off your face, set carefully on a table, and smashed with a massive sledgehammer.

I felt naked.

But as I continued to read, I realized something else.

For the first time I understood that I wasn’t the only one burned in the story. For the first time I came to understand all that my family went through. My brother, Jim, was injured physically and emotionally. My sisters were prescribed sleeping pills because of witnessing me burning in front of them, and then there were the months of constant fear that they’d lose me for good. Oh, and my parents. My poor parents. As difficult as my physical pain was, the emotional toll on them was, in so many ways, much worse.

Not to mention our neighbors!

Imagine knowing that your story somehow galvanized a community into action.  Our neighbors in the suburbs of St. Louis literally opened up their homes to my siblings as we waited for the house to be repaired; the community raised money, donated blood, offered prayers, brought food.

I had never fully considered all the people who came together to make the miracle a reality. And imagine, after reading the last page of your tragic story, seeing it differently, clearly for the first time. As if cataracts had been cut away, I understood, “Oh my gosh . . . it was all a gift.”

The fire.

The pain.

The fears.

The scars.

All of it was a gift!

The fire led perfectly to where I am today. The challenges led to experiences that shaped me, the character that drives me, the faith that guides me, the life around me, and to the possibility in front of me. No, it wasn’t always perfect.

But it was my life.

It was my story.

And it was time to claim it.

After reading my parents’ book, the scars that I had been covering up for twenty years were transformed into badges of honor.

The scars remained, yes. But they were there because the wounds had healed.

They were evidence of a miracle.

Covering them up denied others the chance to see them.

To question.

To connect.

To share.

To grow.

To live.

After I read my parents’ book, I turned the book over and stared at the picture on the cover. The picture of me as a kid with my scars and splints was still there. But now, I saw something I had never seen before. I no longer saw a little boy at the end of a journey he had survived, but instead at the start of one that he could not wait to begin.

Shifting my perspective on that picture from the past and the scars still present served as an inflection point that positively transformed my life.  It shaped how I viewed the current reflection in the mirror, interact with others, and engaged in life. It elevated how I viewed current challenges and future opportunities.

My friends, we all have been burned. We’ve all endured heartache and letdowns. We’ve failed in business, stumbled in finances, tripped in relationships, and struggled physically. We all have a story. It’s just usually not the story we are telling the world.

In order to best connect with others, uncover our purpose and live up to the fullness of our promise, it is critical to embrace the scars of yesterday. No, we don’t accept them as horrible reminders of how lousy the past was and the litany of mistakes made. Instead, we wear them as badges of honor ― celebrating all we’ve survived, the lessons learned, the character developed, the faith fortified, and the litany of reasons we still to have to be grateful.

So if you want to embrace the one perspective that is certain to transform current challenges into opportunities, look no further than your past.  For in it you’ll discover that every experience, adversity, and even tragedy has led perfectly to where you are today.

And today, with that perspective (regardless of whether or not you always intentionally chose the path you walked in the past) you are free to choose the manner in which you walk your path going forward.

This is your day to wake up from accidental living and embrace the gift that is your life.

This is your day to live inspired.

Your turn…

Can you think of a personal example of how your scars have strengthened you?

Anything else to share?

Please tell us about it. We would love to hear from YOU in the comments section below.


Credit marcandangle

Life is short

Life is short


Life is short. Cut out the negativity, forget gossip, say goodbye to people who don’t care. Spend time with the people who are always there. ~ Helene Lerner

Stay true to yourself

Stay true to yourself


Stay true to yourself. Don’t worry about what people think of you or about the way they try to make you feel. If people want to see you as a good person, they will. If they want to see you as a bad person, absolutely nothing you do will stop them. Ironically, the more you try to show them your good intentions, the more reason you give them to knock you down if they are commited to misunderstanding you. Keep your head up high and be confident in what you do. Be confident in your intentions and keep your eyes ahead instead of wasting your time on those who want to drag you back. Because you can’t change people’s views, you have to believe that true change for yourself comes from within you, not from anyone else. ~ Najwa Zebian

There is no use looking back at yesterday

There is no use looking back at yesterday


There is no use looking back at yesterday. I am no longer the person I was back then. Every morning when the sun rises, I am a changed person. Changed by the experiences I’ve had, the lessons I have learned, and the love I have received. It’s time to move forward and embrace the life that I’ve been given, be grateful for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me, and start living a life of passion. There will always be ups and downs, good times and bad, losses and gains. Life is about learning lessons, showing love in the process, and growing into the beautiful souls we are meant to become. Don’t let yesterday rob you of your happiness today. Every time the sun rises, it’s a new opportunity to make your life the best of your life. Enjoy every moment.


One Daily Gratitude Ritual that Will Change the Way You Think

The secret to being grateful is no secret. You choose to be grateful. Then you do it again and again. If you forget, begin again.


I remember that rainy summer evening – shortly after Angel and I lost two loved ones to illness, lost our livelihood in a layoff, and ultimately lost sight of the goodness that remained in our lives – when I found myself lying down on a tile floor, alone in the dark, just thinking.

Angel and I rarely spoke openly about anything meaningful during that period of time, mostly because I was withdrawn.  I felt helpless and essentially depressed about what had happened.  I was lost in the darkness of my own negative thinking.

But something shifted inside me as I was lying on that tile floor.

As I looked up and out the open window next to me, the moon suddenly broke through the clouds and illuminated the dark room I was in.  Then, within seconds, a light breeze started blowing the white window curtains inward and over me.  As the curtains fluttered in the air four feet over my body, I smiled.  It was a beautiful moment.  And without thinking twice, I whispered out loud, “Life is still a miracle to be grateful for.”

Angel walked into the room at that exact moment and whispered, “I agree.”

She ducked under the curtains and snuggled into me on the floor.  After a couple moments of shared silence, we decided to list some things off the top of our minds that we were grateful for, despite our struggles.

Our list of gratitude looked something like this:

  • We had each other
  • We had parents, extended family, and some friends who loved us
  • We were reasonably healthy
  • Most of our family members and friends were reasonably healthy
  • We had some savings
  • We had shelter, water and food
  • We could experience and appreciate the beauty of the moonlight illuminating this dark room, and the breeze making the curtains dance

And the list went on, of course, but you get the gist.  Even when everything seemed to be wrong, we had a lot going right – a lot to be grateful for.

That night I resolved to change my thinking and make gratitude a daily ritual in my life.


Source marcandangel

10 Signs it’s Time to Let Go

10 Signs it’s Time to Let Go

  1. Someone expects you to be someone you’re not. – Don’t change who you are for anyone else.  It’s wiser to lose someone over being who you are, than to keep them by being someone you’re not.  Because it’s easier to mend a broken heart, than it is to piece together a shattered identity.  It’s easier to fill an empty space in your life where someone else used to be, than it is to fill the empty space inside yourself where YOU used to be.
  2. A person’s actions don’t match their words. – Everybody deserves somebody who helps them look forward to tomorrow.  If someone has the opposite effect on you, because they are consistently inconsistent and their actions don’t match up with their words, it’s time to let them go.  It’s always better to be alone than to be in bad company.  True is a promise made in the heart – silent, unwritten, unbreakable by distance, and unchangeable by time.  Don’t listen to what people say; watch what they do.  Your true friends will slowly reveal themselves over time.
  3. You catch yourself forcing someone to love you. – Let us keep in mind that we can’t force anyone to love us.  We shouldn’t beg someone to stay when they want to leave.  That’s what love is all about – freedom.  However, the end of love is not the end of life.  It should be the beginning of an understanding that love sometimes leaves for a reason, but never leaves without a lesson.  If someone truly loves you, they will never give you a reason to doubt it.  Anyone can come into your life and say how much they love you, but it takes someone really special to stay in your life and prove how much they love you.  Sometimes it takes awhile to find the right person, but the right person is always worth the wait.
  4. An intimate relationship is based strictly on physical attraction. – Being beautiful is more than how many people you can get to look at you, or how others perceive you at a single glance.  It’s about what you live for.  It’s about what defines you.  It’s about the depth of your heart, and what makes you unique.  It’s about being who you are and living out your life honestly.  It’s about those little quirks that make you, you.  People who are only attracted to you because of your pretty face or nice body won’t stay by your side forever.  But the people who can see how beautiful your heart is will never leave you.
  5. Someone continuously breaks your trust. – Love means giving someone the chance to hurt you, but trusting them not to.  When you completely trust a person, without any doubt, you’ll automatically get one of two results – a FRIEND for life or a LESSON for life.  Either way there’s a positive outcome.  Either you confirm the fact that this person cares about you, or you get the opportunity to weed them out of your life and make room for those who do.  In the end you’ll discover who’s fake, who’s true, and who would risk it all for you.  And trust me, some people will totally surprise you.
  6. Someone continuously overlooks your worth.Know your worth!  When you give yourself to someone who doesn’t respect you, you surrender pieces of your soul that you’ll never get back.  There comes a point when you have to let go and stop chasing some people.  If someone wants you in their life, they’ll find a way to put you there.  Sometimes you just need to let go and accept the fact that they don’t care for you the way you care for them.  Let them leave your life quietly.  Letting go is oftentimes easier than holding on.  We think it’s too hard to let go, until we actually do.  Then we ask ourselves, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
  7. You are never given a chance to speak your mind. – Sometimes an argument saves a relationship, whereas silence breaks it.  Speak up for your heart so that you won’t have regrets.  Life is not about making others happy.  Life is about being honest and sharing your happiness with others.
  8. You are frequently forced to sacrifice your happiness. – If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative before you know it.  Know when to close the account.  It’s always better to be alone with dignity than in a relationship that constantly requires you to sacrifice your happiness and self-respect.
  9. You truly dislike your current situation, routine, job, etc. – It’s better to be a failure at something you love than to succeed at doing something you hate.  Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours.  The best thing you can do in life is follow your heart.  Take risks.  Don’t just make the safe and easy choices because you’re afraid of what might happen.  If you do, nothing will ever happen.  Chances must be taken, mistakes must be made, and lessons must be learned.  It might be an uphill climb, but when you reach that mountaintop it will be worth every ounce of blood, sweat and tears you put into it.
  10. You catch yourself obsessing over, and living in, the past. – Eventually you will overcome the heartache, and forget the reasons you cried, and who caused the pain.  Eventually you will realize that the secret to happiness and freedom is not about control or revenge, but in letting things unfold naturally, and learning from your experiences over the course of time.  After all, what matters most is not the first, but the final chapter of your life, which unveils the details of how well you wrote your story.  So let go of the past, set yourself free, and open your mind to the possibility of new relationships and priceless experiences.

And the one thing you should never let go of is hope.  Remember what you deserve and keep pushing forward.  Someday all the pieces will come together.  Unimaginably good things will transpire in your life, even if everything doesn’t turn out exactly the way you had anticipated.  And you will look back at the times that have passed, smile, and ask yourself, “How did I get through all of that?”

When you give yourself to someone

When you give yourself to someone


When you give yourself to someone who doesn’t respect you, you surrender pieces of your soul that you’ll never get back. There comes a point when you have to let go and stop trying with some people. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll find a way to put you there. Sometimes you just need to let go and accept the fact that they don’t care for you the way you care for them. Let them leave your life quietly. Letting go is oftentimes easier than holding on. We think it’s too hard to let go, until we actually do. Then we ask ourselves, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

Live your life with purpose

Live your life with purpose


Live your life with purpose. Focus on your blessings, not your misfortunes. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Be yourself and don’t wait for the approval of others. But most importantly, have a positive and humble mindset no matter what situation you are in. Count your blessings, not your problems, and you will realize how beautiful your life truly is. — Troy Amdahl

everything happens for a reason



I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. ― Marilyn

You deserve compassion and kindness

You deserve compassion and kindness


“The fact that you’re struggling doesn’t make you a burden. It doesn’t make you unloveable or undeserving of care. It doesn’t make you too much or too sensitive or too needy. It makes you human. Everyone struggles. During these times, we aren’t always easy to be around — and that’s okay. No one is easy to be around one hundred percent of the time. And yes, you may sometimes do or say things that make the people around you feel helpless or sad. But those things aren’t all of who you are and they certainly don’t discount your worth as a human being. The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved and should be loved. You deserve compassion and kindness.

~Daniell Keopke