Everybody’s life has a story. We all have experienced moments in time which were pivotal in making us who we are, and in bringing us to the places we are at in life right now. What is yours? I think it is important to take stock of the events of our lives, and to pinpoint in brutal honesty the things that have formed our view of ourselves, the world, and others. Sometimes, they are things we have pushed aside, and just hoped they would go away as time passed. Sometimes, they are painful memories of things people did to us when we were younger. Sometimes, they are painful memories of things we did to others, and we would prefer to sweep them under the rug and pretend they never happened. The problem is, once things happen, the consequences don’t go away just because we refuse to think about them.
I think back over my life and I acknowledge the were many significant things that happened to me which have brought me to where I am now. There are things I did when I was a teenager that sometimes I regret today, but when I look back over those years, I see how I am who I am because, or in spite of, the choices and decisions of a lifetime ago. Can I go back and change the past? No. Would I, if I could? I don’t know. My story would be different, and even though I didn't have the perfect childhood, and I was far from being a perfect teenager, all the experiences I had taught me tremendous lessons. I think about the shy, insecure young person I was, the one who followed the crowd in hopes of finding acceptance and peace, and I feel for her, just as my heart softens towards the teens and young people I meet today who trying hard to find their places in this world.
I struggled mightily with anorexia, and I remember the morning reality struck, and I actually thought I might really have an eating disorder. My mom was pitching a fit as I got ready for work because I didn't want breakfast. I rarely ate, and when I did, I had long periods of anxiety worrying about where the fat would appear on my body. I had gone from 130 pounds to 105 in just a few months. At 5’6, 105 is not a healthy weight. Mom actually chased me around the house with a piece of toast I didn't want, and as I went out the front door, ignoring her, she threw the toast at my back, and started to cry. That got my attention, because we didn't really talk much, and I hardly felt like part of the family anymore, and frankly, I was surprised. That she would be concerned enough to cry caused me to start thinking seriously about the fact I might need some help getting my eating habits back on track. Now, as I look at a nation that struggles with weight issues in so many ways, I sympathize with people who get caught in that battle.
I reflect on life as a teenage mom, and remember letting go of the dream of becoming a doctor, as I realized the grave responsibility I had of raising the children I loved so incredibly much. Instead, I spent eighteen years pursuing an Associate’s degree, working, and raising children. The day I received that degree in the mail is marked indelibly in my mind. I vowed the time would come when I would continue my education, although that day seemed unbelievably far away at that moment. I had no idea how or when, but I distinctly remember saying I would do it - and I did eventually, but my dreams of pursuing a career as a physician were long gone by the time I went back. I aimed for something more practical, and which would place far less demands on me to obtain. Yet now, I see the myriad ways the education I got helps me, and I am grateful for the path I ended up on.
I spent many years of my life living mostly trying hard to not make other people angry. I learned how quickly people will take advantage of that, and how brutal they can be. Living in fear and dread is not living, but having the courage to change a lifetime is nearly as frightening. I know now who I am created to be, and how I should be treated by others. I also know how fragile people can become, and how easily they can be damaged. I have seen there is restoration and healing and hope available to everyone - no matter how they got to where they are.
Regrets? Yes, my story has some regrettable actions and decisions, and sometimes pain and fear, but there were also many wonderful moments of joy and hope. And my heart is not full of regret. I see how all the events of my life are woven together into a story nobody else could live, because it is mine. Yours is, too. Think about it. Own it. Release any regrets and bitterness you might have. It’s your story, it’s important because you lived it and now you are who you are. Maybe you will identify a pattern you don’t like. The beauty of life is that it can be changed. Your story can be changed. Maybe you will gain insight and understanding as to why you are the way you are. Learn from it - and share it so others can learn as well…
What is your story?