"Let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you"
It's funny how quickly your perspective on strength changes as you get older. Growing up, strength was only a measure of what I could do physically [which if we are being real, wasn't a heck of a whole lot]. It was somewhere in my teen years that strength became less and less of a physical attribute, but more of a mental/emotional character trait. It wasn't until real [read also: hard] life experiences started happening that I learned what it truly meant to be strong. For me, strength was proved to me when I watched my husband lose his father unexpectedly his senior year of high school. Every time I type those words my eyes fill up with tears. Here was this 18 year old boy who lost everything he knew in a matter of minutes. What I have realized is that you learn a whole lot about yourself when you are unsure of everything. All of those cliche sayings I had always heard about how you can't get to the top until you are at the bottom, you can't be healed until you have been broken, etc...all of those rang true. When faced with situations you never thought you would find yourself in you can allow it to do any of the above--define, destroy, or strengthen you. I am so thankful Shawn chose strengthen. He is a completely different person than he was the day before his dad passed away and while it was a horrible situation, he has made it the very best possible. I love that I walk alongside a person who has shown strength at times when I would be weak. A person who has chosen to remain positive when the easier option would be to be negative, and a person who can say "it will all be okay" and know genuinely that it will be. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger...so grateful for the opportunities that we are given to learn more about ourselves and show others that we can do hard things together.
All of this to say--I love this shirt above but I love the meaning behind it more. You most likely all know my friend Ashley from The Shine Project by now [if you don't, feel free to check out this post for an awesome drawing her son made me last time we were out in Arizona and visited them...I promise you will laugh] but she is up to more good again. They recently launched a 7 week tee campaign with the help of their student employees. You can read more about their mission here. Rodrigo is the fine young gentleman who chose my shirt's quote and here is what he has to say about it.
"My name is Rodrigo and I am a 21 year old, first generation college student. I have been working for The Shine Project since they launched two years ago, and the scholarship money has helped me pay my way through college. Everyone faces those insurmountable struggles that approach you throughout life. There are decisions that have to be made with enough thought or just at an instant moment. There's family you let go in order to pursue your driven triumph, and there's your heart you risk for someone not to break. There's those long years of schooling you accomplish to settle your future. All the little things that happen in between can balance the good and the bad through your journey for your own story. You can either let life define you, destroy you, or let it strengthen you."
A portion of this weeks shirt sales will go to Rodrigo's college scholarship fund.