The Stain
By: Kathy
October 14, 2012

Recently someone told me about her struggles while painting her daughter’s bedroom.  The daughter had written on the wall with a black marker.  At first they painted over the marker assuming it would cover it, but when the paint dried, the stain remained.  They tried a second coat.  Almost no help.  A third coat.  The stain wouldn’t budge.  Of course!  Primer! That would do it!  Nope.  They could still see the marker bleeding through.  It was less obvious, but the stain was there.

Eventually, they found something to hide the dreadful marker stain, but I was struck by how hard they had to work to cover it up.  Naturally, I related it to my work.  I meet with people all the time who have “stains” they are dealing with.  We all have embarrassing stains in our pasts that we would prefer to erase.  Despite our best efforts, the stains keep coming back.  Something keeps reminding us of the stains we wish had never occurred.

I know if that marker situation had happened in my home, every time I walked in the room, I couldn’t help but glance quickly at the wall for evidence of the stain.  I know I do that with the stains of my past, too, but the things I wish had never occurred are indelibly written on the walls of my life.  So what do we do when we have nasty stains in our lives?  Obviously, we can’t erase them – they happened and there is evidence.  Often, our attempts at covering up the stains make them more obvious than if we’d have just let them be in the first place.

We can move-on to new places and people to reduce the threat of exposure, but the stain remains visible in our hearts long after everyone around us has forgotten.  This is where I find people struggle the most.  They can’t forgive themselves.  They can’t accept that the stain is now part of their past.

They stay stuck in the room painting and painting and trying everything to conceal the stains.  They glare at the wall, knowing that the stains will eventually return.  These battles with the stains of their lives cause them to make more stains that require more cover-up and before long, they are crippled by the stains of their lives.

It is true, we can’t erase our pasts, but if we are to have peace in our hearts, we simply must accept that stains are part of life.  We cannot have an unmarred life.  The stains and scars and nicks that occur don’t contaminate our lives, they enrich us.  Yes, I said enrich us!  We learn lessons from the mistakes we make.  We build character.  We build experience that helps us step around things that could hurt us in the future.  We gain wisdom that can help others.  We learn things about ourselves.  By being humbled, we gain empathy and compassion for others.  We gain the ability to reach places within ourselves that we could never go to without experiencing that pain.

So while you may be sitting there staring at the stains of your life, I implore you to take your gaze off of the stains for a minute.

Look to the right and left.  Look behind you.  You are sitting in a room with 80% perfect, stain-free walls.  You can spend your time staring at the stained spots on one wall, or you can decorate the rest of the room.  While I know the stains are glaring to you, I can assure you that the stains will fade as soon as you stop staring at them and the world will be drawn to the beauty of the rest of the room.  How are you going to deal with your stains?