I abruptly left the room. It was Sunday and as usual, I was crying in church. Every Sunday, before I step into that building, I tell myself I’m going to do better this time. I’m going to hold it together. I’m going to put my brave face on. I’m going to be settled. But every Sunday, a tidal wave of emotion washes over me and I can’t shut it off. I desperately try, because I’m so tired of being that person, but I can’t make it stop. My soul is overcome.
At the end of the service, a friend from church held out this small green felt bag to me and said something like “I saw this and thought of you” before someone started talking to her. And I wanted to stuff it in my purse and open it later, but curiosity got the best of me. The look on her face was important. This small bag felt important. I stood at the back of the church and opened it. With trembling hands, I read the words etched on the silver bracelet as tears ran down my face. I didn’t have a response. I think I just hugged her and cried. Maybe nodded a few times and said thank you. I couldn’t make an intelligent sentence, I do know that.
I clutched the delicate silver bracelet in my hands that proclaimed “my story isn’t over yet” with a semicolon charm attached. The semicolon of course is used when a sentence could have been ended but wasn’t. I am the semicolon. I am not done. There is no ending punctuation to my life, not yet. My story continues on because I continue on. Even in the wake of the regrettable and reckless things I have done, I am still here. I am still alive. My story is not done; there is so much I want to add to it.
It wasn’t so much the gift of a bracelet. It was the gift of being SEEN. I was seen by her. During this dreadfully long and lonely road I’ve been on, she saw me, shoulders hunched forward in the driving rain, and sobbing all alone. What a gift it is to be seen by someone who cares despite the disastrous mess you have become.
It was so dark at times I couldn’t see it. I had been so focused on the love that I couldn’t feel and the deadness of my heart that I hadn’t noticed right in front of me, there were those willing to step up and step in, giving their love freely to me. Love has been there all along. I haven’t been alone. Love was showing up on someone’s doorstep and crying at their kitchen table. Love was a sweet compliment on my jacket and a squeeze of my shoulder as I cried in a hallway. Love was a phone number on a sticky note and the offer to call anytime I needed someone. Love was a bracelet with the words of my heart etched on it. Love was in the encouraging words and a genuine laugh. Love was in a prayer, a kind smile, and a couch that automatically reclines. Love was the good kleenex. Love was a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towels, ready to protect me from hurtful words. Love was in an email from my soul sister. Love was in the hands of my husband, always steady and strong, willing to pull me back up when I fall on my face. Love was in the faces of my children. There has been so much love around me.
I have been blind. So very blind. I am still here and I am not done. It’s time to get back up. It’s time to rise. It’s time to feel love again. It’s time to be brave again. It’s time to stop hating myself for what I can’t change. It’s time to stop using what others feel or say about me as a measuring stick to what I should feel about me. It’s time to shake off anything that does not fill me with love, peace, or hope for tomorrow. It’s time to break free of the sorrow and anguish that has been dragging me down and I am ready. Yes. I am ready now. It’s time to see myself through the eyes that matter most ~ God.
Dear friend, I see you. You are going to be ok. I don’t know what it is but I know that you will be ok. You are loved. Please know you are so loved. Find help if you need to. Come find me if you want to. Together, we will be ok. Together, we will keep going.
Your story is not over; there is still so much to add to it.