I'm going on another Community Peacemaker Teams (human rights) delegation soon to Colombia, which means I've been rewriting my funeral plans and last will and testament since the last time I did this was in 2018. While the trip overall is safe, the simple fact has to be acknowledged that I am spending time in an area known for conflict and oppression.
Reading sentences like, "We understand from our partners that our presence greatly reduces violence, but we are unable to guarantee anyone's security as we are unable to guarantee our own security," make it hard to ignore that.
When I wrote out my last will and testament five years ago, I found myself having a few regrets. I wasn't where I wanted to be as far as health and life circumstances were concerned.
When I sat down to write it this time around, I prayed and searched myself for what kind of legacy I was leaving behind should the worst happen. I was able to say two things for absolute certain: I don't have any regrets, and I'm proud of the life I've lived.
When COVID first broke out in 2020, I started therapy some time that year. I finally began to unpack the things that had been following me around since I was a kid. I grew up in rough circumstances, and I was applying those survival skills in situations that didn't warrant them.
Soon after that, I got physically healthier, started attending a 12 step group to focus on the trauma (they have one for everything), and the active traumas that I experienced during 2020 pushed me into writing fiction for a bigger audience. None of these changes really happened overnight - it was little by little.
I turn thirty next week, and it occurred to me through reading one of my old childhood journals that I used to not expect to live this long. I was hanging with people I knew were not good for me, and I didn't even think I was going to go to college. In fact, I was a high school dropout.
But, here I am. I'm graduating with a doctorate next year, I've travelled the world a bit, and I'm living my childhood dream. Every day now, since starting my healing journey, has been a massive gift.
The thing about this journey is that I wasn't having a rough rock bottom experience. On the surface of things, I was doing very well. I was pastoring a church, I was doing grad school, and I was helping to manage an afterschool nonprofit. But, on the inside, there was a huge sense of disconnection.
Through faith, self-love, and patience, I was able to find myself again. And now, often, I wake up with hymns playing in my head. It's a perk I didn't ask for, but I'll take it.
I'm really excited for my future. It still seems unreal to me.
If you're at a point in life where you felt like I felt - whether it's due to an addiction or an attachment issue or whatever - I hope you know the choice for a beautiful life is always there. You don't have to go through life miserable, or being afraid of what others may think of the things you carry. You can choose life.
Faith, forgiveness, mercy - those are old school values, but there's something to them. I'd encourage you to explore them, and to know that God is closer to you than you'll ever imagine. Your life will be much richer for it.
I now carry around a recovery token that references a saying that is common in AA circles. It's called Rule 62: "Don't take yourself too damn seriously." On the surface of the coin is a hitchhiker looking fo a ride as the sun is setting.
And on the back it says: "What is for you will not pass you."
I look at it often when things minorly don't go my way, or when I'm having a rough day in general. It's a great reminder of my role in life. I'm not God (apparently.) But I can do things that will make my life better, and trust that there is some kind of method to the madness.
When I look at my summer ahead, I'm jokingly calling it Hot Mennoboy Summer. I'm going to convention, a MCC educational trip to Mexico, and a CPT delegation to Colombia. I'm not sure how much more Anabaptist you can be than by doing all three things in a month.
I didn't plan for any of these things to happen, but when these opportunities presented themselves I chose to say yes. And I think that's kind of the secret of faith and life - choosing to say yes, to risk being loved and vulnerable, to throw caution to the wind a bit. I know my life is all the more better for it.
Not much more to say other than that. Excited for what this next decade will bring, and what is coming my way.