I was standing in the field I grew up in, with my cell phone pressed to my ear at 37 years old as I repeated the words “I am a child of God. God loves me. God has plans and a purpose for me. I forgive you. I forgive you.”
My words, spoken in between hiccups of the almost-sob that kept threatening to rise up and out of my larynx, fell upon deaf ears. This was the first and last time I have ever spoken these words, and I believed that although my life had seemingly fallen apart, this was not my end, nor my purpose. This space, this timely patient wrenching space, stretched on long after I spoke those words, but there was something inside myself that had changed. I felt valuable, and I stood tall in my fears from childhood and spoke my worth. I kept smiling and pushing that hurt down, until that moment on the phone that summoned my courage and belief to say “No” to my offender. I am valuable.
I did not always feel this way. I have hurt myself in all sorts of creative ways over the years, and in the process I hurt others as well. My rationalizations never met cleanly with my logic and intelligence, so lying to myself in the absence of accountability had never provided any sort of comfort. Even still, learning to be accountable was an indirect focus and I had no idea what a clean life would look like for me, uniquely.
My community showed me accountability. I reached out to this new community to piece together this new enlightenment, as we all know that with growth we will feel pain as well. The pain is behind me now, although I still ask myself every day in an impatient or angered/nervous moment; is this issue real or perceived? What control do I have? I can control my reactions??? Oh….
I have always had issues with impulse control and reaction. I believe we learn this as we enter our middle adulthood, when narcissism begins to fade like our hair color and we begin to see society and community as a need and as an important aspect to our level of satisfied fulfillment. I still struggle with the last of my impulse reactions, and I work hard to be the real-est self I can be with myself, shrugging off the need for a persona at home, work, or even in public daily life. The one impulse I have carried from young adulthood into the presence is the need to run.
I run to escape, I run to breathe air, I run because my legs will allow me to run, I run to be humble, I run to be strong, and I also run terribly slow and never worry about my speed. I run for me.
While scrolling through good ole FB, I came upon a video posted by a friend. The video, created as a Student Story by Stephen Farr , a theology student attending ASWWU, was created by her brother. I immediately felt the power of relation, watching as he steps out onto the road and begins running.
To give a slight backstory to this video, part of the story Stephen speaks about I had heard before; the story of his sister, dying in the backyard. When I heard this story first hand from his sister, my arms broke out in chills. We sat at her kitchen table and she pointed to the spot in the yard that the Medics had found her. She expressed her gratitude to be alive, and the way she spoke of the incident was humbling. This story was not told to receive attention, it was told from an honest place that inspired me deeply to be openly honest as well.
Stephen’s own story of realization and of his comfort in knowing he had purpose in life brought me to tears. I had been in his place, running in the rain barefoot and drunk and feeling lost. When I came home from these nights, no one was there to tell me they cared. The coupling of hearing his sisters words years ago, and then hearing Stephen’s words in the video…I can only explain my tears in that they poured out of my eyes while bearing witness to love. Growing up in a difficult home life and persevering through just to watch the family you love fall apart, this story I had heard and lived. To keep running in purpose and see family love reunited in such a beautiful way, this I had not seen enough of. To hear someone else say in affirmation that “God Loves me, I have a purpose” and witnessing the actual action behind the words?
I’ve watched it over and over.
People need people. We need community and to have our community value us as much as we value ourselves, which also means we have to value ourselves. This is the lesson I am learning, which began long ago and only recently has bloomed with the sharing and relations of other like-minded loving individuals.
Check out Stephen Farr’s Video here
Maya Angelou’s best advice ever again.
Category: Love, MortalityTags: accountability, brother, community, courage, doing work, family, forgiveness, God, growth, Love, maya angelou, relationships, running, saying no, sister, theology, value, witness