The night I began preparing this post I was on my couch watching the vandalism, riots and looting unfold right there before my eyes in a town just 30 miles away. And I was angered. On one hand I was mad because I didn’t want to share such a special day and anniversary with something as full of chaos and negativity as had come with tonight’s verdict. On the other hand my heart was breaking for all of the businesses being burned down, knowing that livelihoods were being destroyed in the midst of seething anger and frustration for something that wasn’t even their fault. I was mad at the looters and rioters, the ones acting out and committing crimes. Why were they destroying their own community? What did they have to gain from that? But then I recognized something. I realized as I was aware of my heated emotions that the means in which they were acting out was that of desperation and hopelessness. These individuals most likely are feeling as though there is no other alternative other than this chaotic display of destruction, oppression, abandonment… And, that’s when I was taken back. I too was at one time in the very same place. I know that desperation and hopelessness.
I was at the end of a tunnel where there was no light at the other end. In fact there was no end in sight whatsoever; not that I had seen anyway. I was desperate. I had barely any hope to survive or to overcome the poverty, the broken marriage, the emotional abandonment I had cast on our three children, or bringing children into our own chaos and trying to call it a family. How is that fair to them? Or, me? There was no light at the end of the tunnel for us. Rick and I both felt we were in a hole so deep that there was no way we would ever be able to dig ourselves out. If someone would throw us a rope we might hold on for a moment, but we’d somehow find a way to lose grip. Take one step forward only to take three steps backwards. That hole was a prison that we believed we deserved to be in. We didn’t agree with it and it made us angry that we were in it but more so that we didn’t see any light, that we were blind. And we acted out destructively, chaotically. We were aimlessly struggling and trying to ignore our frustration but when there is no light, there’s nothing to see ahead of you and that feeling of being lost is at times unbearable. We’d looked for happiness on the outside–things, events, family and friends–which ultimately led to envy, jealousy and more frustration. Never once looking inward and trying to understand why we believed that we didn’t deserve good or why we kept sabotaging those ropes that were someimes thrown to us.
I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.
You see it’s not until we forgive–which is such a hard thing to do, it is, it really is–to relinquish the chains that have held you captive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean to forget, it means releasing yourself from the prison that the hate and grudge holds you in. And that’s really hard when it (that prison) is all you know. It’s very difficult to let go of those ‘protective’ walls. But after forgiveness, you can begin to look at yourself. You can look at the resentments and the transgressions and realize that you’re just as much to blame for the chaos in your life. That’s where the light is. That’s where the light at the end of the tunnel comes from. Once you have an understanding of your own transgressions and your own abilities, only then you will see a light that will allow you to grab hold of a rope or a ladder or whatever is being thrown your way. Those chances are there, those opportunities are absolutely there. But if you don’t reveal that light within you, within your heart, you’re going to miss every opportunity and then blame the world for keeping you down in the hole.
We finally revealed that light 14 years ago in the means of a church, a pastor, our family and our friends and two rings where we once again became one. It showed us that we could overcome these personal transgressions and this inability to forgive. That we could defy the odds and not follow society’s views of how we’re supposed to take care of ourselves and think about ourselves individually, I should say selfishly. No, that’s not how we were created to be; not in the least. Recognizing this made every bit of that light get brighter and brighter as these years have gone by. We continued the very hard but very rewarding inward look at ourselves, at our marriage and at our family. And it’s the story of this very light and hope that I share with you; on the anniversary of that light being turned back on.
Today, I couldn’t be more fulfilled and content in my life. There is still plenty I wish to attain and achieve (ie financial security, higher education, etc.) but there is nothing that will bring me the type of joy that I have in my heart today from viewing and knowing that that light is there and that it has been; it just needed me, my mind and my heart, to open up to the fact that it was there. To rid myself of the ugly, putrid, murky transgressions that were there in order to see it’s true capacity to light the way to a future that’s full of fulfillment, contentment, joy and deep intimate love that I never knew possible. At this point in my life, I only wish to instigate and inspire that potential to each of you, to the world, that It Doesn’t Have to be That Way. It doesn’t have to be a world of anger and frustration and selfishness but it can be a world of forgiveness and hope and light and true fulfillment and true contentment.
Everyone one of us has a purpose and we all have a story. Is your story going to be consumed with hate and anger and frustration, being chained to a prison? Or are you going to do what’s hard and release yourself from something that’s kept you so confined and so dark that you haven’t been able to see any light. I hope you choose the latter. You deserve it just as much as I/we do.
Be grateful for being you!
I love you all and wish you all the best.