I can’t believe I’m turning 30 today. Like, I know it’s not old, but I know I’m not 20 anymore. As much as I feel like a 30-year old SAHM, there are parts of me that still view myself as a young, fresh woman; an immature high schooler, just getting out of college, a newlywed…. but I’m not that anymore. It’s scary, but it’s totally ok.
Earlier this week, I was looking through my memory box for a junior high picture of myself for a piece I’m writing for Her View From Home. I haven’t looked in this box since Eric and I got married, when I was looking for pictures for our wedding slideshow. It was only 7 years ago, but I couldn’t believe what I found.
There I sat in my living room with pieces of my life scattered all around me; everything from pictures of my toddler years to cards and letters I had received in college. The memories came flooding back as I read the words of those in my life who have loved and encouraged me along the way. It was seriously overwhelming; I’ve never experienced that kind of feeling before, not to this extreme anyways.
As I flipped through the cards, I was beside myself as I read the words that so many people had written me. I mean, I have HUNDREDS of cards in this box. Most of them are from my parents. But I had some from my brother, teachers, friends and other family. It was beautiful to read letters from my grandparents who have passed away, people who I haven’t talked to in years and reliving times that were just really hard for me.
Over and over again, I picked up cards from my parents and no matter what, the messages that they wrote were always the same: We love you. God has a plan for you. Your life has purpose. You are so special and precious. We believe in you. You are our greatest blessing. I couldn’t help but sit there in a puddle of tears with an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude. I am so loved.
And then I came across things in that box that were painful; pictures with and memories of people that I, for a moment, wish weren’t in that box. Pictures of friends from long ago who had hurt me, letters from those who aren’t in my life anymore, funeral bulletins… things that were just hard to look at. They were painful to relive. Why did I keep those things? Why were they in my box? Aren’t memory boxes supposed to be full of joy and laughter? These things hurt to look at. Why in the world would I ever keep them in here?
I don’t know about you, but when I come on big milestones in my life, I want to remember the good; the events in my life that were happy things that made me who I am. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that those things that were painful in that box did make me who I am. The pictures with high school friends (who I thought were friends) who were purposefully mean to me, the pieces and memories of my grandparents who have died that I miss so desperately, the letters from friends who I’m no longer in contact with…. the picture that I took in junior high of a group of kids who I longed to be friends with but never was… I was the one taking the picture, I wasn’t allowed to be in it. And looking back now, I’m so glad that I wasn’t in that picture. Because the people in that picture weren’t me. They purposefully left me out. And I’m so glad they did.
Maybe this post isn’t meant to encourage anyone. Maybe it’s just to get my thoughts out on paper. But either way, I have to say it. THANK YOU. To those of you who have poured into my life over the years. The countless hours that my mom spent driving around Olathe with me after school with a cherry limeade and reassuring me that who I was wasn’t a mistake. The time my dad took me on a week long vacation to talk to me about purity and becoming a woman of God; and then continuing to talk about it everyday after that. My friends who have loved me through my selfishness and ugliness. The countless teachers who saw through my awkwardness and believed I could be something more. My brother who could always take a rotten situation and make me laugh. And my husband who decided that he would take a chance on some insecure blonde girl in nursing school. THANK YOU. Thank you for loving me so well.
And to those of you who hurt me: THANK YOU. I don’t need to say names, you know who you are. Actually, maybe you don’t know who you are, and that’s just kind of sad. While I no longer have any hard feelings towards you, your negative actions did make an impact on me. You left me out, mocked me and my Jesus, hurt my feelings, ran your mouth and were just plain mean. Thank you for showing me the type of mean person you were, because it showed me the type of kind person I wanted to be. Because I was left out of your group, I found myself in God’s. Your pushing down of me only made me climb back up and fight for who I was; who God made me to be. And I can’t thank you enough for that. The hard stuff matters. And because of that, I will always wear my hurt as a badge of honor. Because it made me the person I am today; those painful times made me look to Christ and not man. And because I serve a resurrected King, my ability to forgive and have peace is real; even thought I don’t forget, I choose to have Redemption take place of the pain. And gosh, forgiveness is way better than a grudge, am I right?
So as I sit here today and reflect on my past 30 years, I smile through my tears, the happy and sad; realizing that both of them beautifully go together. I’m choosing to embrace the hard that was with the good that is and realize that with out either, the masterpiece of my life would look completely different. And I think my masterpiece is beautiful; and I wouldn’t change a single thing.