Things happen to us in our lives here on Earth.
Things that don’t make sense, things that hurt us in the deepest and most real ways. Things that unravel us and scream at us, telling us we’re something that we’re not. And we find ourselves one day, partaking in a conversation about life and fate with blue haired ladies at church or in the burrito line in our college cafeteria and the question is pondered,
What would you change?
“Nothing,” you hear someone say, “nothing at all.” And in some way, somewhere deep down, you admire their apparent acceptance of this turbulent life, but in another, very real way, your stomach drops
into your gut as you think, in full assurance,
“I know exactly what I would change.”
I know the very moment.
And you see it. That moment. Those words. That accident or accusation or mistake. And the hurt poisons you as you stand in that line in the very same way it saturated your veins all of those days or months or years ago.
Yes. That is exactly what I would change.
Because these things happen, don’t they? We may not believe it, the power a moment can have, until it becomes a part of our story. I never knew until I found myself in a hospital room, identified as broken by the doctor with the fancy pen, back chilled by the unfortunate architecture of those gowns they make you wear. “Self-harm” thrown around like it was something that actually pertained to me. And yet I was there. I can still smell it.
Ask me, and I’ll say nothing makes you feel more broken than a hospital room. Nothing makes you feel more misunderstood than a diagnosis, especially a false one. And. Well, nothing makes you more vulnerable than allowing those moments to redefine who you are.
Forget the buckets of resiliency I possessed for the first 20 years of my life. When I left that day, I was weak. I was broken. Forever broken, if you asked me.
I gave the power to someone who didn’t deserve it, to someone who didn’t know me at all. To someone who called the ambulance in the blink of an eye, led me to it, and believed he was saving me from myself.
And I forgot, I completely forgot, who I was. I began to walk in fear, forsaking opportunities for adventure. I slept in on Saturdays so I didn’t have to get out of bed and face whatever terrifying thing existed in the world. I would walk by the array of fall colors on the trees and find some way to deny who they were.
Because after all, who was I?
I was broken, remember? I was weak.
Because he said I was weak. He said I was a quitter. And above his head, that fancy certificate proving that
he was right.
I’m done giving the power to liars – to The Liar. There are things that happen to us, friends, and they give us a choice.
Will we believe them?
My fingers shake as I write, fighting the good fight. Choosing to not believe them.
There are innumerable voices in this world. I used to think I was immune to the heart-stopping, life-altering affect they have in the lives of people. But we all are formed and altered by the voices we choose to believe.
I chose to believe that I was broken, doomed to that hospital bed, ruled by the woman that lay there. I believed that that was who I was, and that changed everything about every moment of my day since. I put fear on the throne of my mind and he took charge and I became exponentially less than who I am in every way.
I came back to school, convinced the people around me that I was “fine”. But the hardest person to convince was myself. Those people weren’t there, after all. They didn’t feel the utter panic of that moment, the one that painted my past with darkness. They didn’t stare blankly at the white hospital room walls. They didn’t wear the one-size-fits-all socks.
But it’s not them I have to convince. It’s me. I’m the one who decided that everything from that moment on was downhill. I’m the one that, for the past 10 months, has made residency in the false-claim of that day.
Because the truth?
The truth is that that day has made me more of who I am than I have ever been before. Forget flimsy pats on backs. I know what it is like to be wheeled in a gurney, treated not for a wound in my body, but for what they saw as a wound in my mind.
Was I hurting? Yes.
Should I have been there that day, marked as “unstable”, greeted by the friendly neighborhood crisis worker, and handed the red envelope on the way out?
Does it matter?
The truth is that it happened, and for better or for worse it is a part of my story. I can choose to dwell forever on who I was marked to be, or I can remember who I am. I can allow the trauma to swallow me whole (as it tempts to do), or I can remember that I have been given eyes I never believed I would possess.
This isn’t the time to go into the mental health system in our country. That may be for another post, at another time.
But I have learned, and choose to live, that no little orange bottle, no opinion of another, no doctor’s diagnosis, no trauma.
Not even actions.
Nothing in this life can steal my identity away from me. I am a child of the King, a Christian, one who has chosen to follow the Lord of my Heart, the Savior who came and died so that I may have life abundant.
I am brave for He makes me brave.
I am strong for He makes me strong.
I am who He says I am, full of purpose and abounding in joy.
So what would I change?
Nothing. For I am more today than I ever imagined I would be.