Do Not Wish Yourself Away


It’s amazing when you think about it. There are things in your life that you sometimes think you would wish away if you could. Memories you don’t want or that are painful, maybe experiences that are agonizing. But then, at the same time, you can’t wish them away. Or, rather, you might not really want to if you sat down and thought long and hard about it. While those memories may be hard or heartbreaking, or that experience or those people utterly awful, if you didn’t have those experiences or didn’t meet, be with, or experience those people, wrangle with those people, then I would posit that there are other things that might not have come about. There are people you wouldn’t have met, friendships or relationships you wouldn’t have, and beautiful experiences you perhaps would not have had if you hadn’t met these people or gone through what you had with those them, those contacts and happenings.

It’s what really what stops me a lot of the time from saying, “Oh, I wish this or that had never happened.” Because the truth is: if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be the woman I am now. Maybe I would be similar but definitely not the same. As much as or even more so than that, though, I wouldn’t have what I have now. I wouldn’t have the friends and the relationships that I have and hold dear. I wouldn’t have a lot of the beauty in my life, a lot of the challenging, sharpening things in my life, that I do now if it weren’t for these experiences. I know that I wouldn’t have the capacity for the important things that I have gained from them: compassion and empathy and mercy and grace, for example.

It is true that you can walk away from people in your life if that situation has become emotionally unhealthy for you or for them, but you can’t erase them. Now, there are absolutely horrific things that people have experienced–terrible, soul-rending things that I do wish I could erase. I do wish I could eradicate it from their precious soul’s memory, give them something wholesome and loving and up-building in its place, and erase the damage. That is really what I wish I could do: erase the damage. But I would never erase, or want to erase, the person.

In the latest film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (of Chronicles of Narnia fame), Lucy chooses to speak a spell that would make her as beautiful as (though she didn’t realize it would actually  turn her into) her sister Susan, whom she agreed was the more beautiful of the two of them. When she was given a glimpse of what would come of such a rash spell-speaking (namely, a world where Lucy Pevensie didn’t exist), Aslan reproved her in his gentle, breaking-open way.

Aslan: What have you done, child?
Lucy Pevensie: I don’t know. That was awful.
Aslan: But you chose it, Lucy.
Lucy Pevensie: I didn’t mean to choose all of that. I just wanted to be beautiful like Susan. That’s all.
Aslan: You wished yourself away, and with that, much more. Your brothers and sister wouldn’t know Narnia without you, Lucy. You discovered it first, remember?
Lucy Pevensie: I’m so sorry.
Aslan: You doubt your value. Don’t run from who you are.

I don’t mean it to sound trite or to trivialize anything, I really don’t, but it’s the truth, the real, unmarred truth in that everything we do ripples. Everything we experience ripples and builds on itself and it builds on other things. It is rather amazing, honestly…and scary, really so, because as much as I or you would like to pull an Eternal Sunshine, if you did, what would be lost would be so much than just those memories and just those experiences. You could very well lose you, the person who is being built and strengthened, sharpened and refined on the foundation of those ruins. And what a great loss that would truly be! Don’t wish yourself away, dear one. Live and learn and grow. With the necessary time and care and imperfect progress, perhaps you will be able someday to put regret in a box and bury it beneath the foundations of who are you are becoming. I will endeavor to do so, too, rather than let it become a wrecking ball that tears down all we have built.
Don’t wish yourself away. You are needed. You are significant. You matter. What you have been through matters. Let your people hear your voice, let us see you feel, be, and live life. What’s more, let us see who you are and who you are becoming and let us love you in it. It’s breathtaking to watch.

15357075_10102488520027984_1342900758_n

BloPoMo Day 3: Golden Authenticity


A friend shared this on Facebook and I thought it absurdly appropriate to share here as well. Thank you, Genevieve V. Georget, for your authenticity! Follow her here – https://www.facebook.com/genevievevgeorget?fref=ts

= = =

Genevieve Smyth's photo.

Genevieve Smyth

It was a Wednesday afternoon when I walked into Starbucks that day nearly six years ago. I stood at the bar, waiting for my drink, when the barista politely asked me what I was up to that day. As it turns out, I was en route to the airport at that moment…about to catch a flight to Italy with my husband. After a brief minute of chatting, the barista handed me my coffee and wished me a nice trip. “But then again”, she said “why wouldn’t you…your life is golden!”

I’ll admit…the gold star was nice. But at the same time, the words knocked the wind out of me. She wasn’t being rude. She wasn’t being sarcastic. In fact, she was being totally genuine. And that’s the part that really took my breath away.

Because here’s the thing…

This lovely girl saw me for all of five minutes a day. Usually all dressed up on the way to my full-time job at one of the country’s most prestigious art galleries. Or with my camera in hand to photograph two people in love. Or, yes, on my way to Italy for ten days to celebrate my anniversary. This is what she saw. Therefore, this is what she knew.

And truth be told, there is darkness in this kind of knowledge. Especially now, when so many of our connections happen only five minutes at a time…fully filtered and perfectly hash tagged. In our defense though, it’s not entirely our fault. That battle we’re fighting…those rough days were having…they don’t tend to translate very well when you have twenty people in line behind you for coffee or a hundred and forty characters to spell out your day.

Honestly, what was I going to tell my barista?

“Yes, we’re flying to Europe. I just miscarried our baby…we had a terrifying health scare…I’m suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder…and we’re feeling pretty far from God right now. So, yeah, going to Italy seemed as good a place as any to just run away from our life and justifiably eat gelato twelve times a day.”

No. I wasn’t going to tell her this. Because shocking total strangers into oblivion is a bit harsh and cruel. Especially when she’s the girl in charge of making your coffee every day.

But I did spend the entirety of that flight wondering; about our sense of authenticity…our collective vulnerability…our polished identity. And it made me feel like a total fraud. Because I’m not any of those things that this girl sees on the other side of her coffee bar.

If I showed up one morning, wearing my most ragged and scarred self…it would be a very different girl staring back at her [and she would likely feel inclined to serve me alcohol instead of coffee!]…

Because I was bullied a lot as a teenager.

I’m afraid of thunderstorms.

I spend an absurd amount of time worrying about what other people think of me.

My biggest challenge in life is letting go of people. Even if they hurt me.

I hide behind my humor for fear that people won’t accept me without it.

I feel like I have failed as a daughter.

I try to avoid big groups so that I won’t feel like the invisible one among it.

I’m insanely self-conscious of my smile.

I feel like I’m an easy person to walk away from in life…and it haunts me on a daily basis.

I almost always operate under the assumption that I care more about everyone else than they do about me.

I unfollow people on Instagram if their life seems too perfect because it makes me feel inadequate.

I feel like a terrible mother pretty much all the time.

I hate emptying the dishwasher.

Every day, I’m afraid that my husband is going to wake up and finally realize how much crazy he married.

I thank God for every day that he doesn’t!

I don’t like to try new foods…so I travel with my own jar of peanut butter.

I want to write a book so badly that it hurts. But I’m afraid of people telling me that my life was never worth telling.

I struggle, every single day, with feeling like I’m enough. Skinny enough. Funny enough. Good enough.

And I cry. A lot.

I highly doubt I would get a gold star for any of this. But, now, six years later, I do know one thing for sure; that even with all of my frailty…all of my fears…and all my faults…none of those things make my life any less golden.

Scars tell stories. Scars mean survival. Scars mean you showed up for the fight instead of running from it.

And we’ve all got them…even the sweet girl serving my coffee. She’s fighting her own battle…defending her own front line…struggling in her own way.

And maybe it’s not about collecting gold stars for the perceived reality we give the world on Facebook…but it’s about the purple hearts we get for living bravely among the real one.

Because life requires guts…it requires bravery…and it requires vulnerability.

So, buy your coffee…wear your scars proudly…and carry on, dear soldier…

You’re not in this battle alone.

photo credit: www.richellehunter.com | Richelle Hunter Photography