Has your life ever exploded as if someone dropped a bomb on it? Or did it implode when the heat or stress—inside and out—became too much? If so, you were left with a pile of rubble and whatever vestiges of your life remained standing.
At such times, you must determine if there is anything left worth keeping. To make that decision requires sifting through the rubble. Or, you may look at the remains of your life and decide there’s nothing worth saving, sweep away the remains, and build a new life sans anything from the past.
The Dresden Frauenkirche
Sometimes, though, the pieces of your life are, indeed, of value and can help you rebuild. In fact, you might even be able to use them as a new foundation or as part of the new life you create.
The Frauenkirche, a church built in Dresden, Germany, in the 18th century, graced the cityscape until it was destroyed in the bombing of Dresden during World War II. The church’s featured an unconventionally high dome—315-feet high—called die Steinerne Glocke or “Stone Bell,” the Frauenkirche’s 12,000-ton sandstone dome rested on eight slender supports.
On February 13, 1945, Anglo-American allied forces began bombing Dresden. The church withstood two days and nights of attacks before succumbing to the heat generated by some 650,000 incendiary bombs dropped on the city. When the heat got too high, the dome collapsed, the eight pillars that supported it exploded, and the outer walls shattered, dropping 6,000 tons of stone to the ground.
For 50 years afterward, the ruins were left as a war memorial. However, the church was rebuilt after the reunification of Germany in 1994.
Rebuilt from the Rubble
I remember taking a tour of Dresden and listening in amazement as the guide talked about the reconstruction of the church. Of the millions of stones used in the rebuilding of the church, 3,800 of the more than 8,500 original stones salvaged from the original church were reused in the reconstruction. Two thousand pieces of the original altar also were cleaned and incorporated into the new structure.
When you stand outside the church, it’s easy to spot the older stones. They are darker due to fire damage and weathering.
Maybe you can rebuild your life, like the Frauenkirche, with pieces from the rubble. You can use what’s left to create new walls, a new sanctuary, a new path forward.
Rebuild from Scratch
Or maybe everything was destroyed or whatever is left from your old life holds no value for you. Then it’s time to rebuild with all new materials.
In this case, you have a huge opportunity to envision the life you want to build. You need not replicate what was there but, instead, can create something totally new to suit your current or future needs and desires.
Imagine yourself as an architect. You examine the lay of the land—a new bit of acreage where you plan to build or the same plot where you previously built your life. And then you begin to dream…
You imagine the type of house—your life—you want to build. You sketch it out…create an architectural plan. You decide on the types of materials you will use to construct this house. You picture what will be in and outside it.
And then you start building. Before long, your gorgeous new home graces the bit of land upon which it stands.
It’s your new life—built from scratch and ready for you to live it.
A Reminder Doesn’t Hurt
While sometimes we don’t want any type of reminder from our old life, sometimes we do. It’s at these times that you want to take the time to look carefully at what is left of your life. Choose a few trinkets that hold positive meaning for you, and give them a place in your new life.
These moments provide context. They help you compare where you’ve been to where you are and where you are going.
These momentos don’t need to be useful. They can simply be meaningful reminders.
Sometimes It All Falls Apart for a Reason
I live in California, where people I know have lost their homes to wildfires. However, the fire didn’t just devastate their homes but their lives, too. These people had to rebuild out of the ashes—sometimes in totally new areas of California or elsewhere.
When your life falls apart in a way that feels random, it’s hard to find a reason. And without a reason, it can feel difficult to rebuild. You get stuck wondering why or why me.
Even when the reason isn’t apparent, have faith. Something good will come out of the rubble. You will put your life back together one way or another, and, in doing so, you will create new opportunities for yourself.
Have you rebuilt your life after it fell apart? Tell me about your experience in a comment below. And please share this post with someone who might benefit from reading it.
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