A long time ago, I came across a blessed soul who touched my life in so many ways I have lost count. This woman has always sought to care for others, very rarely seeking to care for herself. I have asked her many times what her life is missing and where she feels she went so wrong to feel like she was a disappointment to herself and to God. In 8 years her answer has always been the same. She doesn’t know what makes her happy or what it would take for her to forgive herself for the things she has done in life that label her as a sinner in the eyes of the church.
When I ask her of her sins or an example of what she has done that is so unjust she cannot be forgiven, her response is, again, always the same. She has committed adultery and I sense the shame of it all plagues her daily, forcing her into the deepest, darkest depths of depression. Constantly blaming herself for being this awful person in the eyes of a God she feels she has disappointed to the point of being unable to be forgiven. To a God who wants to punish her for her sins. To a God that she has let down and walked away from. To a God who couldn’t possibly love someone like her.
Of all the things she has confided in me, none have ever been anything I’ve never heard before from others or done the same myself. It makes me wonder how the same situations cause so many different reactions and perceptions of others and ourselves, leading us down such different paths where we create stories about who we are (or not) as people. I know that for a long time, I too, held onto a story that kept me in constant shame, doubt, guilt and insecurity. I know now that my path has led me to become a seeker and while I can pin point the exact moment the pivot occurred, I don’t know when the painful stories that kept me in accompaniment with disappointment began, nor do I know why I continued to live in a state of misery for as long as I chose to. I sought out people who were broken to fill the broken parts of me and brought unacceptable situations into my life, encouraging them to live and grow in the negativity I kept all to myself as if it was something that I needed to nurture. For if I didn’t, who was I without it? It was a question I was too afraid to answer.
Just over two years ago today, I set out to seek that which I could not find. I had no idea where I was going, I had no idea what I was looking for. All I knew was that I had built walls so high and moats so deep I hadn’t the faintest clue on how to conquer them. It took many break downs before I could find the will or the way to climb out and over the restrictions my mind had so deeply ingrained into my beliefs about my life and the part I played in it. While my seeking has only just scratched the surface, it has brought me full circle, demanding I gaze upon my own reflection and see that what I had been seeking was within me all along. It was this realization that led me to create a morning ritual that would resonate with me but was also easy to commit to. Every morning as I wake, I choose three things to be grateful for. Lucky for me, the first thing I see every morning is the one thing I am most grateful for in life – the peaceful, sleepy face belonging to the man of my dreams who has taught me kindness, compassion and forgiveness for those who seek out to hurt us, shown me the kind of love and support human beings all over the world dream about and fairy tales are based upon, unconditionally standing by me just as I have stood by him in all the troubles outside of us which we have faced together and all the passion and wonder within us that keep our love alive. He truly makes my insides sparkle therefore, nothing takes the number one place of the man I get to call my partner in life.
The second and third “things” can be anything, ranging from our adorable puppy who wakes me up every morning, tail wagging from excitement, playfully coaxing me out of bed to take him outside in order to do his business or to the smaller things which really, are the bigger things in life we should all be grateful for. So of course, I thank God for the air in my lungs, the blood in my veins and the obstacles he has given me the strength to overcome and the ones he will bring unto my path to test me with in the future. Some days, I just say thanks for giving me a set of eyes that see beyond the superficial into the soul of life and all the beauty that is hidden within it, including myself. Every morning I breathe in knowingly that, in order to find love in this world or a place of peacefulness, I had to first find love and peace within myself.