“The City I Once Knew” by Anna Miller

I knew of a beautiful city once.
I had been there countless times.
It seemed so put together, so new.
Everyone there looked content, like all was well.
Even when storms came, the city was not broken or battered by the wind and rain.
When enemies attacked, the city walls stood firm and protected the people inside.
No storms or attacks could shake this city.
Life was good there for many years, seemingly better there than anywhere else.

What the people in that city could not see though was the subtle damage.
The damage to the city walls caused by the storms over the years.
You see, the city leaders covered the cracks and dents caused by enemy attacks.
Those leaders kept up an image of perfection and strength so the people would feel safe.
But the people of that city were not safe, for the city walls had taken heavy blows.
The kind of blows that crush smaller cities.
But to this city, the blows slowly weakened its defenses.

So the beautiful city continued on with life.
It survived the largest attack it had ever faced, an attack the people were sure would have destroyed it.
The people were amazed that the attack didn’t disrupt their lives.
They even bragged to other cities of the strength of their walls.
But the city had suffered a wound that couldn’t be patched or ignored.
The city’s very foundation had cracked.
But the people continued to live as if nothing had changed.
Daily they saw the crack and said, “Look how strong we are to sustain such a crack and not be affected.”

What the people did not see was how much they actually were affected by that crack.
How deeply it had punctured the very identity of the city.
How unsettled they were in the depths of their hearts.
Would they ever be exposed to the truth?
In time, the truth would reveal itself. It always does.
But not for a year, maybe two.
When it seemed to all be fine.
That was the day that the city crumbled.

It seemed so sudden, like there was no cause.
That day the people saw the depth of their brokenness.
How had they survived so long with such a wound?
How would they ever return to normal?
Could their city be beautiful again?
Only time would tell.
All they could do was try to put the city back together.
As they surveyed the ruins, it seemed like an impossible task.
So many layers of broken clay and brick.
So many years of covered cracks and hidden hurts.
But they had no choice, they had to sift through the rubble.

It was a long and painful process.
Overturning past hurts that were never dealt with.
And as they went through the ruins, there were pieces that were no longer familiar.
Now that they knew the truth about the hidden injuries and the depth of their wounds from the many attacks,
Everything had changed.
They could no longer view their past the same.
The people had to redefine many moments from their past that were now tainted.
They questioned everything that ever happened and could no longer trust the city leaders.

Why had it all happened now?
How could they go on with their normal lives with the things they now knew?
How could they have the strength to get up every day and face the pain of the past?
The pain was so evident, that they couldn’t deny it.
They could no longer push it away because it was their reality.
If they wanted some type of normalcy again, they would have to face the pain.
So face it they did.

There were days when not an hour would pass without someone crying and falling to their knees.
Days that seemed normal until something triggered the emotions and painful memories.
Days where they couldn’t focus on work or get anything productive done.
Days where they would just sit.
For the news they received was too much for their mind to process.
Every day was now a battle.

As the foundation was pieced back together and the buildings began to take shape again,
The people wondered if their city would be as beautiful as before.
To some, maybe it wouldn’t.
To some, the scars of that traumatic time would be something to be ashamed of.
To some, the obvious lack of perfection was unattractive.
But to those who knew what the city had been through, the city was now more beautiful than before.
To those who knew the value of struggling, the scars enhanced the beauty of the city.
To those who could relate to the pain the city endured, it became a place of refuge.

The people realized that their previous idea of beauty was flawed.
They came to see the beauty of scars and the value in embracing them.
They realized the power of honesty and of shared stories.
And even though they had years of hard work rebuilding the city ahead of them,
They looked forward with courage that each day would bring new hope for them.

~ Anna Miller

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