By John O'Leary. This was originally posted on JohnOLearyInspires.com. When John O'Leary was 9 years old, he suffered burns over 100% of his body and was expected to die. He is now an inspirational speaker and bestselling author, teaching more than 50,000 people around the world each year how to live inspired. John's first book, ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was published March 15, 2016. John is a contributing writer for Huff Post and Parade.com. John is a proud husband and father of four and resides in St. Louis, MO. Order John’s book today anywhere books are sold.
Several years ago, I was getting ready for work when my son, Jack, walked into the bathroom as I was shaving. As a five-year-old boy, he stood next to me for a while pretending he, too, was getting rid of the “stubble” on his cheeks. But then he stopped pretending and began gently touching the scars that cover my torso.
These are the deep red scars, with ridges and lumps that traverse my stomach. These are the scars that even today I often avoid looking at because they’re just too painful. These are the scars that remind me of all I went through and would rather forget.
But on this day Jack traced with his little finger the scars that are evidence of all I’ve gone through in my life. And he said:
There was a long pause as he continued tracing his finger along the scars and slowly said, “Your tummy is red… it’s bumpy… and it’s ridgy…”
Little Jack stopped his sentence, but kept tracing the scars.
During that pause, I prepared to let him know that Dad might be different, but that it was okay. That I was burned as a kid, but it was fine. I readied to explain away what I imagined to be his fear and anxiety. Before I assuaged his alarm, Jack added:
“And Daddy, I love it! I just love your red, bumpy, ridgy tummy!”
Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that.
Jack somehow saw beauty, hope, and even joy in those scars. He saw what made me different, as something that didn’t negatively define me. He saw something that could easily be perceived as ugly, as something that set me apart and somehow made me even more lovable.
So, my friends, when you look at your life, what do see? When you read the headlines, what leaps off at you? While you visit with family, or work with colleagues or commute through life, what do you see?
It turns out what we choose to see matters.
If we look for negativity, divisiveness, ugliness and evidence of mean-spiritedness, we’ll find it everywhere. Conversely, when we seek opportunity, unity, beauty and evidence of people doing good, we find it everywhere.
What we seek, we find.
Choose today to be honest enough to identify brokenness within your life, but courageous enough to make it better. Choose to see intensifying wrinkles and a growing waistline not merely as evidence of advancing age, but as indication of greater wisdom and further validation of the miracle of your life.
Choose to embrace the disappointments and setbacks as opportunities to learn important lessons, a chance to turn a page and the impetus to begin writing a new, even more beautiful chapter in your life.
Choosing to see life like this doesn’t make challenges fade. It just ensures the next time you glance into a mirror, struggle in a relationship or feel discouraged by life you can honestly proclaim, “It may be red, it may be bumpy, it may be ridgy, it may be far from perfect…but I love it.”
And that kind of perspective not only changes what you see, but also what happens next in life.
This is your day. Live Inspired.
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