Today I am reflecting on events that changed what I had on my agenda and going on in my world 5 years ago...and remembering the reasons and ways I had courage through the event...and I feel called to share with you some of my reflections.
My brother, 5 years younger, who had been in Texas for 5 months after my mom sent him out to me unannounced on the bus, was now laying in a hospital bed, after laying 22 hours in the following state and having been found: unresponsive, on the floor in his bedroom, saturated in bodily fluids, with a large burn from his cell phone battery eating into the skin on his leg from a reaction between urine and electronics, after his 8th (known) attempt at suicide and overdosing on all his medications in his possession.
I was presented with choices to go see him and talk to him even if he didn't hear me, respond to me, recognize me, want me. I was presented with family members who stated this was all my fault that I hadn't done enough or the right stuff to help him since he had moved to Texas. I was presented with church family who thought they knew the reasons why my brother continued to struggle and who said he was stubborn, arrogant, unruly and obnoxious. I was scheduled this day for the photo shoot for my website and everyone told me I should cancel and forget this.
I chose to listen to my inner voice and went to see my brother every day before work, at lunch and after work. Even when people told me it was not worth my efforts. Even when people told me that he didn't care.
I listened to voicemails of encouragement and voicemails of people tearing me down. I read words from people who knew I was in pain and trying to have hope and I read words from people who had no clue what they said only was a slap in the face to the trauma and pain that I knew first hand me and my siblings had experienced. I still went and had my photo shoot done and smiled to the world knowing I would choose today to still have courage and be who I felt God called me to be: A woman of Faith. A woman of Courage. A woman of Generosity. A woman of Love. A woman of Strength. A woman with a Voice.
I listened to music, particularly one song, on repeat...as I drove down the road with tears streaming down my face, in the shower with my face lifted to the heavens praying God was listening, curled up in bed with my pillow curled up against my stomach and heart seeking answers through prayer...I sang. I memorized the words. I sang it loud. I sang it in tears. I sang it every day all day long to make it through the dark days. I sang it in the moments when I felt my heart would explode because of how close I felt to God. I sang it because it was the theme of my life in this moment.
And though the storms may come, I am holding on to the rock I cling...
I will life my eyes in the darkest night...
I will walk with you knowing you will see me through...
How can I keep from singing your praise? How can I ever say enough? How amazing is your LOVE! How can I keep from shouting your name? I know I am LOVED by the King and it makes my Heart wanna SING!
- How Can I keep From Singing by Chris TomlinI decided I would sing this message acapella the following Sunday at church. Yes, I broke down with some tears in the middle between verses, but I swallowed hard and pressed through it. I wanted my message to be heard. I wanted people to know why I had peace. I wanted people to know that even in the midst of extreme pain you have a choice. And that because of this choice, this is why I pursued life with my whole heart. That I was going to be intentional about how I lived. That this is why I cared about showing love to someone who didn't want it and yes, maybe didn't deserve it by certain standards, but who needed it desperately. Why I made effort when everyone else told me it was pointless. Why I let my actions be defined by courage and not by fear. Why I would not quit.
My story is filled with many like this...that are being written in my book...today I shared a part of my story with you. Why? Because I want you to know that you have the power within you to choose. You get to choose whose voice you are listening to. You get to choose when, how and who to love. You get to choose to be a light. You get to choose to fight with all you got. You get to choose to be different. You get to choose what matters to you. You get to choose how your story is written.
Mine was ugly for years. I felt in bondage to people, things, religion, and work. I believed lies. Yet, the courage I had to create something different created a process in me to make choices that have changed my world.
You are not stuck. You are not a victim. Unless you listen to the voices that tell you you are. You are not anything anyone says you are, unless you chose to believe them. The power doesn't belong to someone else...it is yours, if you want to claim it and live it!
How has your story created you to be who you are? Who do you want to be? What choice are you making to create the life you want?