Growing Pains: Part II
They say college will be the best four years of your life. For some, this means unpredictable and unforgettable memories. For one MBU student, it also meant finding peace through self-acceptance.
Photo by: Colby Duncan
On Monday, Feb. 25, 2015, I shared with you details of my life that have led me to where I am today.
Although this is hardly where I will be even tomorrow, the lessons I have gained are transcendent yet ever-evolving.
These are the things I have learned throughout this time that are more guiding than any advice I have received, or could give:
People don’t really “change,” and that includes you.
I mentioned it on Monday, but I cannot say it enough: I have really not changed at all since I was a child. I have a large and ever-present smile, a voice that is often far louder than it should be, and an unstoppable barrage of words forever pouring from my mouth. These are all fueled by an energy that is comparable to the Energizer Bunny himself. That being said, what were once all great hindrances for me, and can still be today, have become some of my strongest traits. We don’t truly change who we are, because God made us perfect, exactly as he wanted us. However, the traits we possess at our core can be used for good or bad. It is up to us to cultivate a positive purpose for them or to succumb to their negative power, and that is what growing up is all about. Just remember, not everyone will find their purpose as quickly as you, or perhaps they will find it sooner. This will probably take you down separate paths, but that is OK. Rejoice in all these joys as they come to surface.
“Best” doesn’t always mean “Forever” when it comes to your friends.
A wise man who will remain one of my strongest and most influential mentors introduced me to a poem that explains how people come into our lives for a reason, or for the duration of it. I have often said that losing a best friend is like going through a bad breakup. It leaves you feeling sick, weak and vulnerable. But it is in those moments that you find great clarity. Accept your friendships for what they are. Some people are not meant to go with us throughout our whole lives because their journey is leading them down a different path than our own. When you walk your path, you will inevitably leave certain people and places behind, like fields of wildflowers or great trees. Rooted in your past, they offered you something beautiful to behold, or something mighty to rest upon, but they cannot be uprooted to go with you. God gives us each person or experience for a purpose. Embrace this truth and do not try to force them to take on a role which they are not meant for.
Above all, know that happiness can ONLY be found within yourself.
Never believe that it is the duty of a friend or a lover to be the source of your true joy. No matter how truly exceptional you are (and you ARE exceptional), there will be some who will never accept you. This is a reality some may call harsh. I prefer to just let it be what it is. Not harsh, just true. People are not perfect and, in reality, it is just you and your relationship with God that will leave you feeling truly fulfilled and strong. We are blessed to know some who are given the clarity to understand our version of beautiful and they are given to us to share our lives with. But read that as it is, they are there to share our experiences, not to create them. They cannot manifest feelings inside of you. Only within your own heart can you decide your happiness, your strength and your personal value.
Less judging, more loving.
One of my most treasured scriptures is the well known Romans 3:23 verse, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I often go back to this when I feel less significant than someone else in any way. My feelings are almost always rooted in a false measurement probably created by society. Going beyond your own self, remember that when you want to criticize others, that you too have been criticized. It is not a pleasant feeling. Do not turn a blind eye to these feelings, for it hardens the heart. Am I great or even good at this sometimes? Definitely not. But I am still young. At least if we acknowledge this is a character flaw, we are making progress.
Remember that there is a light in everyone, no matter how dim it may seem.
Galatians 6:10 says that we should do good to all people when we have the chance. Your decision to do right by them even when they are so wrong to you is not a reflection of their character, but of yours. Do not allow yourself to be trapped by a hateful disposition, but seek the good of every man or woman even when you have been previously scorned. This is not to say you should allow yourself to be trampled over, believe me I have let this go too far many times before. You will end up with a broken heart, and it is a hard break to fix. So, when it is time to walk away, know you did your best and that you may feel confident your purpose has been served. If you are meant to return to them, have faith that God will call you back. In the meantime, focus on yourself and continue to show care with others.
If you are focused on your own grass, you won’t notice the color of your neighbor’s.
Sometimes greener grass should be less desired. But how would you know if you ignore your own yard to focus on that of another who you deem to be more fantastic than yourself? You are a child of God made in His perfect image. Know that you are strong and bold and miraculous in your own right. Focus not on another’s life, but solely on your own. The time spent obsessing over them could have been all the time you needed to make your own dreams come true.
As I have started to create this foundation on which to stand, I think back very often to Ernest Hemingway.
Not the happiest man, or the Godliest by any means, Hemingway resonates with me still.
He didn’t have a lot of faith or liking for women in general, but I feel a kinship of sorts through our unique issue of being misunderstood.
Even today, his words are often overlooked by those who do not understand his approach.
Hemingway said to “write hard and clear about what hurts.”
These things have weighed on me as I have come to know them, and I am happy to share them with you.
I hope they give you a truth that fills an emptiness in you as it has in me.