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We cannot go through life unscathed. No one enjoys its grace while escaping the darkness. We cannot live if we spend all our time running from pain. Scars are just part of life and if we leave this world without them, then we didn’t live, we merely existed. Life’s grace was never within our grasp. It’s a conscious choice, to live or to exist, to seek grace and accept sorrow. To live, we must make ourselves aware of all of life’s textures, the way it weaves through us in both glory and shame, happiness and sorrow, recovery and pain, comfort and fear.

This journey we are meant to take, this life we are asked to live, was not given to us easily. We must earn its joy through our willingness to accept its heartache. Every emotion we feel has an equal and opposite one, with love comes loss, with grief comes gratitude, with joy comes sadness. To be alive, to truly live, means that we must consent ourselves to receive the good with the bad. We must unlock that part of ourselves that guards against the darkness. In unreserved fashion, we must fling open the door to our heart and let in both fortune and tragedy.

It takes a steely resolve, a deliberate desire to avoid regret, a willingness to be strong in the face of hardship to walk this earth in a vulnerable way, to allow for the mixture of jubilation and triumph and melancholy and despair that life heaps upon us. Oh how it is easy in a way, to build walls to ward off the despondency, the loss and the hardest part of life. Yet, how lonely too it is to live behind such barriers. Life is meant to be felt. It is meant to be messy. It is meant to go up and then down, to grow and then to die and in a time and place of its choosing, not ours.

This is why choosing to live rather than exist is so important. We don’t know what each day, let alone what each hour of our life holds for us. We can accept its beauty with the ugliness or we can later mourn that we missed what it means to love, to hope, to grow, to seek, to know. For when we choose existence, we choose stagnation, we choose loneliness, we choose a sad kind of stillness. Yet, when we choose life, we choose all of the above without remorse. We come to understand the scars we have simply mean that we knew love, we understand passion, we had a purpose, we took a chance and we have nothing to rue or regret.