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.