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It is Best to Cooperate with the Belt Sander of Life
Written By: Mark Smith


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As part of my training as an aspiring writer I attend a monthly writing group. During a recent group the facilitator had us blindly reach into a bag and pull out an item to write about. As fate would have it I pulled out a sandpaper belt used in heavy duty belt sanders. Trust me, I'm not a great poet, but at the end of the day the following is what I came up with about the sander belt.



a small smooth surface just wouldn't do

this intriguing project requires gritty heavy duty grading

for with great affection life is gutting and remodeling me

much work needs to be done to prepare me for what lies ahead



I get tired of the messiness

the loud whiney noise

dusty sand filling the air and settling like snow

the pain of having my scars and calluses shaved and chopped away



so did I sign up for this dark process?

like a fox being chased by hounds a part of me wants to go back to the way I was

safe from the incriminating heat and the friction of the glowering sander

life was simpler then - safe but lacking appetite



I wonder how I will turn out

will I proudly bear the medallions of beauty, nobility, love, happiness and fame?

or will I be jilted, lovelorn, obscure, poverty-stricken, and gluttonously mad?

I pray that I have given myself over to what will be



Life has its way of molding us all. The question is, are we fighting the process or are we cooperating with it? Are we learning all the lessens that are available to learn or are we stubbornly stiffening our necks and railing against the world? What is God or the universe trying to teach you?



Sandra had suffered through an awful childhood. Her father had abandoned her, her step-father was abusive and her mother was completely self-absorbed. She thought that she had overcome her sad childhood when she married Brian, her handsome knight in shining armor. Then the fierce belt sander of life ripped into Sandra's life and heart when she discovered that Brian was having an affair. It wasn't an "oops, I'm so sorry, let's fix things" affair. It was a "I'm leaving you for her because you were such a bad wife" situation. Sandra was utterly and completely crushed. Life was not supposed to turn out this way for her she protested.



Two years later Sandra is still a bit stuck. She is so focused on Brian for his actions that she hasn't learned as much from her situation as she could have. The brutal truth about marriage is that we instinctively marry people who love us in very similar ways that our parents did. Read that line over and over again because it basically explains what love is all about. For most of us it is bad news. Life is fair. Marriage is fair. Marriage is the great truth teller about our issues. We get what we sign on for, nothing more, nothing less.



Sandra is beginning to shift the focus of her anger away from Brian towards the real source of her misery - her parents. Brian did to her only what she enlisted him to do. The challenge for Sandra is to heal her own deep wounds of low self-esteem, abandonment and lack of entitlement. She had those wounds before she met Brian. Life isn't over for her. She needs to re-group. She needs to eventually get back out there and find a healthier love. It will be beautiful to watch. I keep telling Sandra that her future is extremely bright but she doesn't see it quite yet. What happened happened for a reason. It was meant to heal Sandra. The belt sander will eventually produced something silky, smooth and beautiful in her life. She just needs to cooperate with the process and pay attention to all there is to learn.



Has anyone out there ever felt the burn of the belt sander on your life - an unexpected divorce, a straying spouse, an illness, problems with your kids, career issues? Just know this, you are not a victim of your situation. This is happening to you for a reason. Become a listener and a learner. Ask lots of questions. Let whatever is happening to you make you stronger and better. Embrace the pain and its lessens for you. Fighting the process only serves to make it drag on. If you need some help figuring out what the belt sander is trying to tell you go sit in front of a wise and caring counselor who can help you. Better days are ahead for you if you make great benefit of what you are going through now. That's all I've got, see you next week.






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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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