"Distressed" is how carpenter's take a piece of new wood and make it look "antique." There are several ways to distress wood: you can burn it with a blow torch, you can drive nails into it and leave holes, you can even beat it with a hammer or with a piece of chain. All of these methods leave the wood damaged and the imperfections give it "character." When the wood is fashioned into a table or other piece of furniture it increases the value of the item.
This is what life does to us. We get "beaten down" and changed by the stresses of the day. We can be damaged in our intimate relationships by loved ones and our family. The hurts committed against us in our youth can leave deep marks on our hearts. But those same marks can be used to help us have compassion and empathy for the pains and sufferings of others. We can "see" their marks through the lens of our own suffering.
Scripture explains that the challenges we have in life produce opportunity for growth, to gain knowledge, and to learn self-discipline. At the end of the day, the things that cause us distress, reveal doors to wisdom and strength.
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however,
it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace
for those who have been trained by it."
Hebrews 12:11 New International Version (NIV)
So, as you go about your day today, consider every challenge as an opportunity to learn. Every disagreement an opportunity to grow in humility. Every problem an opportunity to find a solution. And consider every failure as one more step closer to success. The choice is yours to remain living in denial and ignorance or to change the way you look at life's challenges. Life is difficult and we are going to go through adversity. Why not GROW through it as well? Look at each blemish, every nick, every dent in your heart not as distressing, but as a gift from God to make you better, to love more deeply, and to give compassion for the imperfections of others. This is where Grace begins and love resides.