Having spent this past year helping my mother downsize, I have recently been motivated to start that process for myself. It became painfully obvious that so much of what I have been holding on to is just “stuff.” The kind of stuff that can clutter up life and simply has no place in our home. The process of prioritizing and purging is a very slow one, but one that I hope will make our home an even happier place to be in the future.
Recently, during one of my cleaning sessions in the basement, I ran across some old journals of mine. It was immediately apparent that I have used writing throughout my life as a sort of sounding board. Some of my diary writings were over-the-top happy, but most were my way of venting when I was angry or sad.
As I read through them, I once again felt the pain of adolescent relationships gone awry. Of feeling left out of friendship circles. Of having a crush on a boy only to find out that he liked my best friend. Feelings of disliking the way I looked and hating that I had to wear glasses. Worrying that I wouldn’t make a good grade on a test or not being able to sing a solo without my voice cracking.
In later journals, I relived the pain of losing my first love. Of making it through sorority rush all the way until the last day, only to be rejected by the one I most coveted. Of often feeling like I didn’t have enough money or nice things to fit in with my friends. Feelings of general insecurity and apprehension.
Once I had finished reading my journal, I had a glimpse into my younger self. There were so many things I would have told her. Feelings I would have shared with her. Encouragement I would have given her through all the struggles. Words of wisdom to help ease the pain of growing up. Reminders to her that she was incredibly blessed to have her life, her family, her faith. Helping her to see how God was at work in each situation.
To be perfectly honest, my journey through my diaries was a very emotional one. And at the end of the afternoon I wasn’t quite sure how to end that journey. After careful thought, I sat down amongst all of the clutter and picked up each journal again; one at a time. I flipped through the pages and began to jot notes in the margins. Notes of how each situation had ultimately turned out in order to see that the pain was worth the stretching and growing that it enabled.
I was able to see that some of those relationships had been toxic, although I couldn’t have seen it at the time. That not getting invited into that sorority allowed me the opportunity to help charter a new one at my college, where I met some of my dearest friends. That if I hadn’t lost my first love, I wouldn’t have met my forever love. That if I hadn’t had to work for the things I gained in life, I wouldn’t appreciate them the way I do.
I said a silent prayer of thanksgiving for all of those events in my life, both the good and the bad. For being able to look back and realize how everything that happened to me worked toward making me the person I am today. And for the people that God has placed in my life along the way that make it so much richer.
The last comment I wrote in the back of the final journal was this: it is important to realize that my past is a very important part of who I am. But it is certainly not all that I am. Looking forward to today and every day as I continue to write my story.