Through my entire life, as far back as I can remember, I always felt different. I always felt that my life was not going to be a walk in the park, nor a walk through the fields of Poppies. There was always something within me that my soul connected to my heart and mind knew that my journey would be distinct. Nothing ordinary on my journey through mountainous glory to the darkest canyons would ever prove standard. Label my journey however you wish, but ordinary, it was never to be.
Please make no mistake as I am not attempting to make it sound like my journey has been the most incredible, exciting, and joy-filled trip to take because that would be a drastic misrepresentation of the reality. It has never been full of rubies, shimmering crystal, and silk lined bed linens, however, the journey through life has always been worth it. For as long as I can remember, I always felt a certain pulling in my spirit toward the distinct, diverse, and non-conforming mindset.
There may have been a few earthly influences that brought about some of those determined factors to remain clear far from status-quo. From various challenges as a child, inclusive of a hearing loss, speech impediment, and even having to wear leg braces for over a year to occasional subject of bullying in elementary school. The pain of being made fun of by others was never a fair shake for anyone, while adding the loss of my twin brother, Joel, to being raped in secondary school and a few isolating events from peers would leave one bound to never conform.
Not for the faint of hearted, I realized that those personal struggles along the journey certainly carried me to the diverse label of difference. I tried so hard to fit in and get accepted by others. I struggled to make it seem like everything was okay, even though I was different on the inside, and the most challenging and painful part was, that I realized this all along. The only safe place that I knew as a child that was a place of safe harbor was outside playing with friends that I knew cared about me, my faithful dog, and my family.
Even being labeled as different carried its weight through the years, especially coming from a fundamental and traditional religious background, heaved down my soul caused rebellious years to follow with a narcotic drug addiction to prescription pills all in the desperate attempt to find myself and peace with the world. Through all of those most toxic recipes toward destruction of self, I always found myself with much joy and peace in serving others. My father always said that if we put others before ourselves, we will truly find a blessing, and I think he is right. He was and is, a wise fella who still to this day is labeled as my best friend.
The global search to find myself took me through many countries, inclusive of incredible places in Africa, Europe, and Asia. I remember incredible journeys, flying through the South Pacific Islands between various countries, all attempting to serve, help, and love others. During this adventurous experience, I kept trying to find myself and to find a profound peace that would go deeper than any worldly satisfaction. Floating down giant rivers that would easily engulf us, sleeping by night in hammocks, I tried to find myself. I've looked in a lot of places throughout our global family. I've looked into a lot of people to try to find myself. Attempting to find that sense of being "real." I have realized that the journey to becoming real, while it really is in serving and loving others, its just the realization that we by ourselves will come into that sense of being real and ourselves in time. It just takes time. It takes pain. It takes crying. It takes laughing. It just takes.... Time... Through the course of this long process, we may not realize that little by little we are changing. It may take horrific situations and horrific circumstances. The results make you sick to your stomach just thinking about it, and you wonder how it could have ever happened to you. You question and ponder, scream, and cry. Perhaps you even question the very current situation that is happening right now, and wonder how it all fits into the grand scheme of life and your relationship with God. It may take having a gun put to your head by those criminals that want your earthly possessions. It may take living in the desert for 21 days to raise funds for a school. It may take every dollar from your savings account. It may take the emotional trauma of losing precious loved ones and family that have passed away. In this most stripping and painful process, it will need to happen for the refining process of smoothing out the rough and stiff edges. You may, as I remember, never wish this refining experience on anyway else, however, I must state, that there is such a rich value in going through that refining experience because it will in fact, lead to wholeness.
The journey through life is never easy, however, it is always worth it. This morning, I woke up, feeling different. I realize after reading an incredible written script from Margery Williams, named "The Velveteen Rabbit," in which she writes the following text,
In essence, this is really what is happening. I have less hair, I think I have been stabbed in the back by those who say they love me (past tense) at least enough times to cause a few eyeballs to fall out, (I only have two), and shabby describes best. However, through the 30+ years of walking through the journey of life, I have realized precious lessons that could never have been learned in an academic environment, and that is, how to love and to feel love. These exchanges of the human experience are all inclusive in the process of becoming real. Now along my journey, even stripped of everything that I thought important, I realize that I have become real.
To become real is to truly understand that as you are, who you are, why you are, and the acceptance that God created you to be who you are for a divine purpose is in itself, the discovery of self. It could take a very long time, especially enough time to lose the hair, which I clearly see has happened to part of my head. What freedom. What love. What Grace. All of the perceptions, expectations, and demands placed on you by others is broken away from you as you look upon the tomb where death once held Him. You see the freedom over the negativity, division, and judgement, and you see the freedom of Life which is in the Christ. You become real as you see that He is real. He said who He said He was. He is and through that....
Stripped of everything you thought you were.
Stripped of everything that you hoped to become.
Stripped of every stable source of false reassurance.
Stripped of every pain that has caused you unwell.
Stripped of all previous wounds, scars, and baggage.
You will find that...
You are... Real... even with your lost hair... Its all part of the plan toward complete restoration to eternity's edge. You will be greeted then accepted for who you are and you will see that you are...