Have you ever endured a substantial trial in your life? Of course you have. Have you ever endured an incredibly difficult season? Of course you have. Perhaps the substantial trial or season in your life was something or many things that seemed to be unrelentingly happening to you; or perhaps they were an era in your life where you/I/we just couldn’t seem to get out of the rut that we ourselves created, or brought upon ourselves. Either way or both, I’m sure we can all relate to this. Some of us may be here right now. Nothing seems to go right, or go our way. Even with the purest of intentions, it just seems to constantly be one step forward and 2,5,8,or 10 steps backwards, and we find ourselves stuck in the “what’s the use” mind set, or worse- “I give up” or “fuck it” Mind sets. All three of those mind sets are incredibly dangerous places to dwell, addict or not. And can lead us to some pretty dark places and serious bottoms. But what I have come to believe is that every season, and every trial has it’s purpose. I didn’t always feel this way or believe this, but I most certainly do now. We grow through what we go through. And it all leads us to exactly where we are, right now.
My Grandmother is the sweetest lady to ever walk the planet. Am I biased in this statement? Absolutely. Am I also right? Absolutely. She was, is, and always will be my biggest fan, supporter, prayer warrior and guardian angel. I gave this woman absolute hell in return for her efforts of trying to raise me and guide me while my dad was in prison and I was strung out on just about everything. Even though I was so busy “not listening to her”, much of the tutelage and inspiration did in fact stick. Case in point, this whole damn entry here.
Grama was always there for me. No matter what. She enabled in some ways, and in others she did not. I think she only bonded me out of jail one time, and that was a result of the pressures from my dad to get me out of Cook County jail. But she was always there to help mold, mentor, lecture, and guide me; even though it seemed to go in one ear and out the other a lot of the times. It didn’t. It just seemed that way I’m sure. But she was always very patient with me, and dedicated, and kind. She was always the very first name I would put on my visitation cards when I was spending time away in the local county jails, or in prison. And sure as shit, she was always the very first one to come and visit me, without fail no matter what. And I understand that that may kind of sound like enabling, and to some degree it might be. But she never came to baby me, or anything like that. I truly believe that she understood all along how very sick I was, and could sympathize with how bad I was struggling. And so she would come and see me, twice a week, every week, to pray with me, and yes, to lecture me. And I would just listen, and “uh-huh” and nod my head yes. But what I really know now, is through all of this, through all the years and relapse and using and jail and sleepless nights for her I’m sure she was ministering to me. Something that is very near and dear to her heart- sharing her incredibly devout faith with others who will listen. And Grama can spit game too. She is not a novice by any stretch of the imagination. She’s as a spiritual of a gangster as anyone in any fellowship. She’s just never been an addict, but she understands suffering like no one I’ve ever known. And isn’t that really the whole juice to it? Empathy and suffering? Aren’t those two of the most powerful things that could ever bind us flawed humans together? Not suffering in a trauma bond type scenario, but don’t we just have this innate drive to want to feel, understand, and help others who are less fortunate or hurting? I think so. But anyways, Grama got it, She is locked in, man. And one of “Grama’s greatest hits”, or “Grama’s On-Repeat” for us Spotify users, was the parable of the Silversmith.
I would be in jail. Again. And grama was my only visitor. Again. And she would come with such grace, understanding, compassion, and kindness, but she would also come with a very subtle “listen here, motherfucker” (Although my grama didn’t even come close to swearing) type of delivery that it just demanded to be digested at times. And she would talk to me about how when we “face these fires” she is reminded of the Silversmith. Now, as I understand it, the Silversmith back in the day would start with what I can only imagine as a giant lump, or ball of very rough and contaminated silver. I’m not a Geologist, but I would imagine its a very crude process at first, especially in the Biblical time frame in which my grama was referring to. And the Smith would take the lump of crude silver, and stick into the flames of the forging fires, until it was glowing hot, and molten. Once it was glowing a liquid, they would remove it from the fires, allow it to cool just a bit, and use a special tool to remove the “slag” or obvious contaminants in the precious metal, and then return the silver back into the fires. They would repeat this process over and over and over again, until the metal worker was satisfied with his or her work. Each time, refining the precious silver more and more. More diligence, more precise tools, and each and every time the metal was cool and cleaned, less and less slag or debris was removed, as the metal would become cleaner and cleaner. And the most experienced Silver Smiths, who had been in practice at this craft for many many years, could tell that the silver was truly pure when they could see their reflections looking back at them in cooled and polished bars and coins.
I don’t know why I felt so led to share this with all of you today, but it was put on my heart last night and I woke up and it was still there- so that’s usually a pretty good sign that I should share it. But what’s the point? I suppose the point, is that we all face fires, we all face trials and tribulations. We all have “slag”, we all have “debris” that needs to be removed, and we all need refining. Regardless of specific Religion or Dogma, we all have a “smith”, we all have someone or many people who we reflect. As I have always said, we are the average of the 5 people we associate with or depend on most. And as the fires of our lives hit us, and the slag is removed, and we are polished, we will begin to reflect the smiths who are pushing and pulling us in and out of the fires. And the whole double edge to this idea here, is 1: Fire burns. The fires of life are never comfortable, they’re painful and difficult, and scary. Sometimes they’re humiliating and embarrassing. Sometimes we think we will never get out of them alive. And 2: Be mindful of your “smiths”, we can go from the fire to the frying pan, real quick. We must be careful and discerning about who we are trusting to refine us, to help us remove our slag, and to help us polish. Otherwise, all of our firings can in fact, be for naught.
Who are your smiths? Who are you depending on? Who is helping you shine and polish? And are they shining you up, for your own brightness, or to trade you off in barter, for something for themselves? My grama would tell me and you, That God is the Silversmith, and he makes all things work together for our good. So that we can have our slag removed, so that we can then help forge, and shine others who need it. And I believe her 100% with all my heart.
A wise man has many councils.
It is in the fires of life that we are refined and polished, but we must learn to reflect the smiths who got us here. And then in turn, use our skills to help others shine. that’s the mission. That’s why God allows suffering. 1: So we can realize our dependence upon him, and 2: So that we can be refined, we can have our “Slag”(fears, doubts, insecurities, addictions, shortcomings, etc) removed, and then help the next one in line to do the same.
Reflect who made ya.