‘You know my name, not my story.
You’ve heard what I’ve done, not what I’ve been through…’
I, like everyone else on this planet, am a person who comes with baggage. I have lived 46 years on this earth so far, and in that time, I have done things…some things I would proudly write on my epitaph, and others I still beat myself up about daily; I have struggled with challenges – sometimes failing miserably, and sometimes surprising even myself with strength I never knew I had; I have made poor choices, some that impacted those around me, and some that brought me to my knees because there was nowhere else left to go. But the one thing I know in my heart of hearts – I have done more good than bad in my life, helped more than I’ve hurt, and at the end of the day, I know I’m right with my God, so to me, I’ve accomplished my goal.
Reflecting on some of that old ‘baggage’ this past week, someone who didn’t know me really at all responded to some of my history in a way I felt was critical and hurtful – something others who know me well would have never said or even believed for an instant. I immediately felt judged all over again, as if I were back in that moment of when the event first happened, defending an inexcusable action that was full of lies and mistruths. In that moment, I allowed this person who knew a thimble-worth about me to cast me in the role others had set for me, instead of what I know truth and integrity say about me instead. I was angry, not at this person, but myself, for allowing someone to hold power over what I thought of myself, swaying my opinion with such ease.
I realized that I am still – everyday – a work in progress. That for as hard as I’ve worked to redefine who I am – what I know to be true about myself – I am a sandcastle…one mediocre wave, and what I’ve built comes crashing down, with little left to rebuild upon. I need to be wiser about where I chose to build. While I love the sound of the crashing waves and the tickle of the water on my toes, that same beauty is hazardous for what I’m trying to accomplish in me. If I rebuild, but farther back from the edge, I can still experience the beauty – the sounds and sights will all still be present – I just won’t be so exposed to the dangers of lashing tongues, boisterous judgments, and harsh critics who lounge by the water’s edge. The sand doesn’t shift as easily farther back, either – a better foundation for where I’m headed – a hope and a promise of what’s to come. Sure, it’s more work to build your castle back there – but when I’m finished…wow! Can you imagine the masterpiece?
The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:13 –
‘I can do everything through him who gives me strength.’
Paul was in prison because of his decision to follow Jesus. Imagine how low he must have felt. If he could write books of the Bible while suffering for his beliefs, I’m fairly certain I can adjust my sails and keep rebuilding until I get it right. That’s the resolve I want to wake up with each day – I can do EVERYTHING – no matter who thinks different. It’s all up to me to start.