I want to share with you a bit of truth that I have learned over the last couple of years. Only by choosing to be fully engaged emotionally, physically, and spiritually, in the best and the worst of times, are we truly living. Not just existing, but fully, wholeheartedly living our lives as intended, happy and full of love and joy!
Over the course of the last few years I have narrowly avoided divorce, recommitted myself to my family, fully committed to a new religion, completed a degree while working full-time, been promoted, and accepted callings to teach Sunday school and share gospel principles with the young girls in my church.
I have watched my wonderful husband continue to struggle with failing vision, I have lost loved ones, and I have been diagnosed with adult ADD and anxiety, and have traveled soul crushing paths with my son as he self-destructed, struggling with undiagnosed cognitive and behavioral disabilities.
The last few years have been filled with some of the best and the absolute worst moments of my life. Looking back I’m not sure I would have survived if I didn’t have my faith. My faith allowed me to endure my hardships and develop an understanding that what was best for those I loved was often the most painful for me and that if I truly wanted the best outcome for all I needed to lean into and work through my emotional pain and suffering. This required me to be present emotionally, physically, and spiritually even when I felt I had huge, gaping holes where my heart and soul once were. This required me to be fully exposed and vulnerable in my life.
During these darkest times I learned that it’s OK, necessary even to be compassionate and loving with myself first. On those worst of days my only option was survival. Luckily those days didn’t last forever and as I worked through those difficult times I was blessed with a much deeper and richer understanding of compassion and love than I had known before.
I learned that the only true control I have in life is to choose how I react in the best and worst of situations. I could have chosen to shut myself off from the world, from those I love the most. Some days I felt shutting down was the only way I could survive.
I could have easily chosen to shut off my emotions; I could have easily chosen to construct a cement barricade wrapped in barbed-wire around my heart, keeping all the bad, hurtful words and actions away from my tender, bleeding heart. After all, it would have hurt much, much less to simply shut-down. But deep down, I knew of my purpose here and I knew if I blocked out the hurt it would require to block out every bit of love and goodness that was intended for me. None of those choices were right for me.
Instead I have chosen compassion, understanding, and forgiveness fueled by unconditional love. I have wrestled with judgement, guilt, anguish, shame, disgust and self-hatred and learned to forgive and love myself. Consequently, I can now put aside expectation, fear, pain, and anger to choose compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and unconditional love for others, too.
I have come out the other side much stronger, with a new appreciation for others struggles, and with a heart full of compassion and love.
These experiences, along with many others, have built a testimony that my purpose on this Earth is to learn from my experiences and find ways to use the knowledge I’ve gained to help others. To be of service to others, to inspire and help others become the best versions of themselves, despite their checkered past.
I have learned that we each have experiences that are as individual as we are. Your experiences look and feel very different from mine but I believe we all experience hardship at some point that leaves us with a choice.
You can either choose to get better, or you can shut down and become bitter. The choice is yours to make but please know you are not alone. There are others, like me who have been there before and we’re here to help you. I encourage you, in those most difficult moments, to choose to become better. To choose to be fully engaged, emotionally, physically, and spiritually…please, choose to create a better life for yourself and for those around you.
In spite of the pain, anger, shame and guilt you can make a conscious choice in choosing love. Not just choosing to exist, but fully, wholeheartedly choosing to live your life as intended, happy and full of love and joy! Please, choose life!