Has Life Left You Hardened Or Tempered?

25 Aug
Blast furnaces of Třinec Iron and Steel Works.

Blast furnaces of Třinec Iron and Steel Works. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would like to ask you all to indulge me in the following analogy.  I am by no means intimately familiar with metalworking, so if I make factual mistakes while making my analogy, I claim creative license.

When steel is worked, it goes through several processes. First, it’s placed in the furnace, and the heat of the fire softens the steel, allowing it to be shaped, or ‘worked’, after which it is plunged into water or oil.  At this point, the steel is ‘hardened’, but it isn’t strong;  carbon trapped inside the now crystallized part of the steel  causes it to be brittle.  If the steel were left in this state, a hard blow could cause it to break or shatter.  To prevent this, the steel is then submitted to a process called ‘tempering‘, by which it is again heated, but to a lower temperature, until the carbon has had time to diffuse out of the crystallized parts of the steel, and allowed to cool slowly until it reaches the desired ‘temper point’, and only then is it plunged into the water or oil, to stop the tempering process at the desired point.  If this process is done properly, you are left with a piece of steel which has most of the strength of hardened steel, but much less susceptible to breakage.

The troubles we face in our lives are much like this process.  Our hard times are the furnaces in which we are forged.  They shape and harden us, but if we leave it there, if we simply stop at the first plunge of relief when they are over, we are left brittle.  Fear, anger, bitterness… we use these things to make us hard, yet they make us brittle as well.  If we never move past this point, we are left in a state in which any hard blow may break or shatter us.

If we are to prevent this brittleness, we must return to the fire.  By this I mean either self-reflection or even therapy.  We have to return (in our minds – not literally, unless it is necessary for some reason) to our ‘trial by fire’ once the situation is over.  When we reflect on it, the fire isn’t as hot as it was while it was happening, but it’s still hot.  This allows us time to release the carbon, or ’emotions’, that were trapped inside us originally.  Fear, anger, bitterness, these emotions are all things we need to face and release, because they make us brittle.

We often mistake our ‘hardness’ for strength, when in fact, it leaves us vulnerable.  A tree that is ‘hard’ will be broken by a strong wind, but a flexible one will simply bend, then return to its previous place when the storm has passed.  Steel that is ‘hardened’ can be shattered by a strong blow, but steel that has been ‘tempered’ is made flexible again, able to withstand things that neither untouched nor hardened steel can.

No matter what you have gone through – rape, abuse, heartbreak, betrayal – if you want to have the strength that is available to you, not simply the hardness, you must go through the tempering process.  It is not enough to simply survive the fire, you must revisit it, and allow it to make you stronger with the same heat with which it made you hard.

Learning a lesson from the fire doesn’t get rid of it, no more than dunking red-hot steel in water quenches the furnace in which it is forged.  Our experiences will always be there, it’s what we take away from them that makes us stronger or weaker.

It is my sincerest wish that you all have:

strength instead of hardness,

resilience instead of brittleness,

joy instead of fear,

peace instead of anger,

happiness instead of bitterness,

and a life lived to the fullest.

~A

My sincerest thanks to MsTranquility for inspiring this blog post… may all your elephants shrink, and all your turtles grow wings. 🙂

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26 Responses to “Has Life Left You Hardened Or Tempered?”

  1. Ann "afriendforever54" Friend August 25, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    What a heartfelt post. Thanks and God bless you! 😊

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos August 25, 2013 at 7:34 am #

      Thank you… and thank you for taking the time to visit and comment on my blog every day. It really means a lot to me and I appreciate it!

      Like

  2. secretangelps911 August 25, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    Amen.. Very good blog.

    Like

  3. secretangelps911 August 25, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    ” Fear, anger, bitterness, these emotions are all things we need to face and release, because they make us brittle.”… I came back to this because this is so true. These emotions can hide deep inside of us and they have to be released for the totality of healing to occur. Everything has to be released as we overcome this world by holding onto the Creator of it…Thanks again for the reminder…

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos August 25, 2013 at 8:50 am #

      You’re very welcome, although I don’t claim credit for the wisdom in my words… it doesn’t matter what anyone calls their higher power, God, Spirit, whatever… I know that anything ‘wise’ is from beyond myself, lol.

      Like

  4. MsTranquility August 25, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Hi KK, I love the analogy you used (so spot on!), and I believe life is a continual ‘tempering’ stage for us. I think looking back into the fire is important because that’s how we change our stories and continue to grow. Thanks for the shout out! 🙂

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos August 25, 2013 at 9:43 am #

      Anytime, and I give credit where credit is due 🙂 I wouldn’t have thought to write this post whatsoever if it hadn’t been for our exchanging of comments last night!

      Like

      • MsTranquility August 25, 2013 at 9:46 am #

        Well I am glad you felt inspired to write because many people can benefit from your fortune cookie wisdom! 🙂 I know I do!

        Like

  5. blessedcursed8 August 25, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    Thank you for this inspiring and profound piece! Sometimes it’s tough to look back on the flames when we were scorched or blinded irrevocably by them – even, often, when we’re still asphyxiated by the smoke. Sometimes it’s easier to strive to douse the flames, than confront the burns they inflicted upon us and truly heal. Sometimes it’s difficult to even withstand the forging process, when the fire threatens to incinerate us before we can find the faith to define and mould ourselves by something more than pain. I think it’s important to recognise and confront our suffering, allowing it to temper us -but I also think joy and hope must embellish our creation, and emblazon it to iridiscent sheen. I think it’s as important to embrace the tides from the splendour of the beach, to plunge into the invigorating waters, as it is to be fashioned by the flames.

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos August 25, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      Thank you for that insightful comment. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I agree, it is important to polish the steel (ourselves) once we’re tempered, but it’s important that we don’t try to polish the outside just to distract from the fact we’re hardened on the inside… if that makes sense.

      Like

  6. Growth Hunter August 26, 2013 at 5:30 am #

    Nice reading and analogy 🙂

    We’re usually too busy trying to get off the heat to realize chances are it would allow us to fine tune or consolidate learnings.

    Have a nice day!

    Like

  7. kerrichronicles August 26, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    Great post, Krafted! Awesome analogy!

    Like

  8. amandalannon August 26, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Wow, I love this. So clever! This is very much in line with the post I have written for publication on Thursday, it’s where I have been…hard, brittle, fearful, angry, not living my life. My hope is for Godly resilience, joy, peace, happiness and to do all things with and in Him who saved me. Thank you I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos August 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

      Thank you for the comment and for the follow! I am very glad you enjoyed this post, its one of my favorites (if I do say so myself, lol) Welcome, and thank you for the follow!

      Like

  9. sweetlilme August 26, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    I love that analogy! I’m still getting used to the idea of revisiting in order to learn and grow, but I like the imagery this paints. There’s a purpose to the process. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  10. Shalena August 27, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    I loved this blog post! One of the things I can’t tolerate in society is illusion and you broke all of the illusions down and got to the heart of the matter. You know the meaning of true strength!

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos August 28, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      Thank you very much, but I can’t take all the credit on this one 🙂

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Has Life Left You Hardened Or Tempered? | sagrisingx - August 27, 2013

    […] Has Life Left You Hardened Or Tempered?. […]

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