You Are More Than The Sum Of Your Past Mistakes

Today I finished the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  For anyone that hasn’t read it, it’s a heart breaking and often times gut wrenching look at a broken girl who ultimately made the decision to commit suicide.  But before she did- she made a series of audio tapes explaining the reasons that led up to her decision and how these 13 people affected her enough to make her feel like she had no other way out.  It’s told from 2 different first person narratives-  the girl’s voice on the tapes and one of the boys that was a ‘reason’.

I wasn’t really expecting to remember so many of my own depressed-ridden moments as I did reading the book.  They kind of hit me out of the blue like a ton of rocks.  Certain passages in the book making it hard to breathe just thinking about different times in my life when I felt alone and alienated, worn out and just plain exhausted with life.  For me, it never got to the point of even considering the s word- but it’s hard knowing that so many people go through life thinking there is no other alternative.  Sometimes, it makes me wonder exactly how they can feel so desperate for escape.

But when I remember those times in my own life.  The times when I was beaten down and bruised, I can always remember something in the back of my mind.  Even when days went on without end when my phone didn’t ring.  Even when I felt so disconnected, so removed from anyone and everyone that I thought cared about me, there was still a small flicker in my mind.  That reminder that all I had to do was turn around, and I could fall into the safety net of Christ.

For anyone that hasn’t experienced it, it’s a difficult thing to describe.  It’s more than just a reason to go on.  It’s that steadying calm inside your heart and mind… down into your very soul that says that you’re not alone.  It’s knowing that even though words can not convey the depth of the hollow inside your chest, He will forever be there, waiting for you to ask Him to fill it.

Now, please don’t get me wrong… I understand that for a lot of people, depression is a severe chemical issue and not just a matter of mood.  But for me- based on the choices I was making and the path that I was following- the issue was far more mind over matter.

Last week in our young adult group we talked about purpose.  We talked about life and what we’re really here for.  For me, it’s mostly always been a non-issue.  Aside from the few years that I strayed and made my life’s purpose to do whatever I wanted- my purpose has been clear.  Aside from that time, my purpose has been to follow God and His Will for my life.  I’m not saying I’ve always been good at it, or that I’ve always done exactly what I should- because that’s not what being a Christian is about.  All I’m saying is that deep down, no matter what, I’ve always lived with the knowledge that God’s will for my life is greater than my own will.  That no matter how many times I think my way is better- I’ll eventually discover that I’m wrong.

And that really got me thinking.  For anyone who doesn’t know God… I can completely understand how you get to a point where there’s no alternative.  I can see how at the bottom of the seemingly endless pit of hollow despair, there is no light.  If following God isn’t your purpose in life, than what is?

Love?
Wealth?
Happiness?
Convenience?

And if so- how are any of those things measured?  How do you measure love?  Is it lust?  The number of contacts in your phone or friends on facebook?  How do you measure wealth?  Is it the things you have?  The labels on the clothes you wear?  The name on the car you drive or the size house you live in?  When is it ever enough?  The idea that what’s good for me may not be good for you… how do you ever determine rules?  What is too much?

What if someone thinks stealing kittens is okay?  What about killing?  With that line of thinking… even though I don’t think it’s okay… even though it’s not ‘good’ for me… if they think it’s good for them, who am I to tell them it’s wrong?

Aren’t you all glad more people don’t live by this rule?  I know I am.

Getting back to the point- I feel like the only thing you can really claim to be a purpose would be to find something that you’re passionate about and pursue it with all your heart.  And in the end if that thing is not God, pursuing a passion can become a self-fueled obsession that leads to the hunger, the desire for more.  It’s how a love of a job can lead to a need for money.  How a passion for love can lead to marriage crippling lust.  It’s how out of a longing for a life of convenience is borne a life of complacency and stagnancy.  And I don’t want my life to become any of those things.  I don’t really think any of us really WANT those things.

And so- with all of these things swirling around in my head today, this post was born.  Because I feel like it’s so important to talk about, and so often it’s things that we miss.  We see a friend hurting and we brush it off, we get busy or we’re afraid of over stepping our bounds.  I pray that I am ALWAYS the type of person that people feel they can call no matter what.  Day nor night, busy or free, early or late.  No matter what- I want to be the type of person that would never turn away a person in need.  Because in life, everyone needs (and deserves) someone like that.

If anyone out there is wondering today… Yes.  Your life is worth it.  Yes, you are loved.  Whether you’re single, married, athiest, religious, black, white, straight, gay.  Whether you’ve been hurt or you’ve done the hurting, your life is worth it.  And whether you know it or not, you have someone there for you.  And for you… yes you… the one reading this right now that says you have no one.  Right now, you have me.  For an encouraging word or a listening ear.  For an email or a phone call or a hug.  Whether we’ve met in person or you’re crossing this blog for the first time knowing nothing else about me- I am here for you.  Because I know what it’s like to feel like there’s no one on your side.  I am on your side.

And for anyone who needs another encouraging word… this song is for you.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

Be brave,

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Somebody To Love

I spent another week mostly treading water.  I got up, went to work and came home.  I made dinner, I ate alone, I went to bed.  I spent another week mostly treading water.  And hiding.

I’m not sure exactly what it is I am hiding from, but the truth is the same.  You know, it’s easy to put on a brave face- to say to the whole world “I don’t need a man to be happy, I’m fine on my own.”  And sometimes, it’s just as easy to fool yourself.

I know in my head that I don’t need a man to be happy, but that doesn’t change the ache in my heart for love.

This week, I was cleaning out my emails and I came across a letter that I wrote to my parents several years ago.  And looking back over it, reading the words that I expressed to them, I could see how lost and broken I was back then.  I could remember the hurt and the pain that I felt, that I caused them to feel.  I can remember how it felt to hide from them.  I remember lying to the two people who never stopped loving me out of fear that they might.

It’s so much different now.  I’m amazed at how much my life has changed.  But in the very deepest part of my soul, I know that I’m still hiding.

I’m hiding from the person that I want to be, and the person that God created me to be.  I get up in the morning, I go to work, I come home.  And all the while, I feel like I’m hiding from the world, from the person that I am supposed to be.

See, the truth is- I know that there are people in this world that love and care for me.  I know that God has a life planned and mapped out for me.  And I know that somewhere down the road, I could do incredible things.  But what about right now?

The last relationship that I was in ended 7 weeks ago today.  And for a while I missed him.  But you know what I realized I miss now, even more than I miss him?  I miss the person that I was when I was with him.  With him I felt brave and beautiful.  I felt adventurous and precious and loved.  With him I felt special- like I could do anything.  He gave me strength and courage and determination and I felt like with him all of my dreams could come true.

And seven weeks ago today, he ended it.

Sometimes I wonder how you can mean so much to a person, and then one day, just stop.  I mean, it’s not like I went anywhere.  He still knows where to find me, and he said he wanted to be friends.  And yes, I understand that ‘being friends’ never really truly happens.  But how do you wake up one morning and just stop caring?

With him, my favorite part of the day was 8:00 a.m.  Because even though we had distance between us, every morning we would text each other just to say I love you.  Just to say ‘have a great day today’.  Every morning those messages set the tone for my entire day, if for no other reason than knowing that someone out there was thinking about me at the exact same time I was thinking about them.

I’ve never been good at letting go.  My life has been characterized by my failure to let go.  My best friend in high school, my life with a controlling boyfriend, friends that I’ve lost touch with.  So, it comes as no surprise to myself that I still hold this close to my heart.  I’m not saying that it will always be this way.  In fact, the days are fewer and further between that my heart aches this way.  But it’s hard knowing that your love for someone wasn’t enough.

This week I had the pleasure of meeting an amazing photographer.  And I think there is a real possibility that working with him could make a lot of my photography dreams come true.  I showed him some of my work, and he seemed thoroughly impressed and has agreed to take me on as a sort of apprentice.  The good news is, I have my first gig with him tomorrow.

The bad news is I have never felt worth it.  I am beginning to realize more and more that my own self worth is almost nil.  In fact, the reason that I even started this journey was to begin to teach myself to find worth in who I am, instead of always identifying myself by the guy that I date.  Because until I can learn to love and respect myself, how can I expect to do the same to anyone else?  And how can I expect anyone to love and respect me?

The first three weeks of my journey haven’t been exactly easy.  They’ve mostly been spent in hiding.  Hiding from the world and hiding from the person that I am.  The truth is there are things about myself that I need to change.  But there are also things about myself that are good, that I like (maybe even things that I love).

Tomorrow, out on this photography gig, I am forcing myself out of hiding.  The witness protection program phase is over.  I am searching out ways to make a difference.  To get out of the house and stop hiding.  If God can love me for who I am, the incredible mess, all of the mistakes (for he sees everything after all) then maybe I should give myself a shot.

Be brave,