An open letter to the school of hard knocks

I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say. ~Flannery O'Connor

Dear life,

You have put ulcers in my belly but fire in my bones.
You have torn friends away but shown me who my true friends are.
You have made me doubt myself yet become myself.
You have put bumps in the road that turned out to be wonderful surprises.
You have beaten me up, so I'm stronger now.
You have thrown me out but in the dark I discovered the stars.
You have cast me down and on the ground I found rest.
You have torn me apart but the scar tissue where I healed will never tear.
You made me feel alone and I discovered I liked it.
You threatened everything so I appreciate it more.
You shipwrecked me at home with my family and I discovered they really are my favorite people.

You isolated me and I read books.
You rained on me and I jumped in puddles.
Your wind blew me off my feet but it also kissed my cheek.
You laughed in my face and I laughed back.
You made me sad, I found joy in small things.
You exhausted me, and I found out how much I love my bed.
You ravaged my body so my soul grew wings.
You tried to silence me so I found words.

You caused me pain, so I gritted my teeth and limped on.
You took my breath away but God gave it back.
You broke my heart and I discovered the courage to heal it.
You left me speechless and in the silence I heard the whisper of my own soul.

You may break me, but never bind me.
You may hurt me, but never kill my hope.
You may force me to change, and I might like it.

I am afflicted in every way, but not crushed; 
perplexed, but not driven to despair; 
persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed;
So I do not lose heart. 
Though my outer self is wasting away, my inner self is being renewed day by day*.

The contest is not over.
You haven't won yet.
You never will,
for even death has been overcome.

*2 Corinthians 4