Do you ever find yourself reflecting back on the life experiences that made you who you are? Today I was thinking about my divorce years ago and (as difficult and unfortunate as divorce may be) the life I’ve lived since that moment and the freedom I’ve felt to become ME.
When I got married as a teenager I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted out of life. Turns out, I didn’t. I spent my young adult life trying to be the person I thought other people wanted me to be. I was insecure and far too concerned with appearances. I was afraid of confrontation. (I’ll be honest for a moment, I’m still afraid of confrontation… but I’m braver than I used to be.) I really didn’t know who I was and I didn’t like the person I saw in the mirror.
When I became single, at first I could not stand to be alone. When the kids were gone I’d keep the TV on for noise in the house. On my weekends alone I’d go out and stay out until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning so that I could sleep half of the day away the next day. I looked forward to Monday so that I could go back to work. I welcomed any and all distractions. After a while though, I began to enjoy my alone time. I would cook for myself, often times grilling a steak and vegetables and enjoying a glass of wine with my meal. I would read, listen to music, pray. I started becoming comfortable in my own skin.
After three years of being single, I met David. He showed me right away that he wanted to be a part of the life I had been building for myself with no attempt to change a thing about me. What a gem he is and I am blessed to have him as a life partner!
This post is not supposed to be about David though. It’s about the life I’ve lived in the last 10 years, the life I’ve shared with ME.
I’ve traveled from the Atlantic to Pacific. I’ve fished in the Gulf of Mexico, seen Disney and Universal. I’ve camped in the Redwoods, seen the northern lights in Alaska. I’ve hiked to crystal clear waterfalls and glaciers. I’ve seen mountain goats, bears, moose and big horn sheep. I’ve kayaked in swampy water with alligators, turtles and snakes. I’ve kissed in the rain and danced on the beach. I’ve experienced earthquakes and hurricanes and jaw-dropping sunsets.
I’ve come out of my shell. I’ve had conversations with strangers, fed more homeless people than I can count. I’ve prayed for people I’ve never met and prayed even more for those I love. I’ve seen God answer my prayers exactly the way I asked him to and, more often, in ways I never imagined He’d do. I’ve forgiven those people who have hurt me in my past and, more importantly, I’ve forgiven myself for my own numerous mistakes.
I’ve spent the last 10 years experiencing life because, I realize now, that life is too short to let your fear and insecurities get in the way. You have to be brave enough to do the things you dream about. You have to be courageous enough to put your life in God’s hands and go where He leads you. Be spontaneous, trusting that becoming YOU and then sharing your experience and the wisdom you’ve gained along the way is something you can contribute to family and community and a way to help others discover the same joy.
This is what I want my children to see and I pray that they can learn from my more recent example. I want them to start truly living and appreciating all that life has to offer now, while they’re still young. I pray they can be bold and fearless.