Life has thrust me on a path I never dreamed existed. The loss of child, our child, our Harlynn, has left me reeling. Clamoring. Struggling. In the face of our tragedy, there have been times I can't see through the tears. I can't breathe to calm the weeping. I can't settle to stop my shaking. There have also been times where I have seen a passion rise within me I never knew I had. A purpose that has become second nature to me. A goal that finds me voluntarily in the midst of absolute heartache and despair. In that, I never know what each moment will hold, or how often I'll flip between emotional extremes.
I have heard quite often how strong I am. How amazing I am. How inspiring I am. I'd like to address those assertions if I may.
I am Everyman's Nobody.
When we lived in Wyoming, I remember standing in the check out line at WalMart (the only place to shop) one day. The woman in front of me turned around and said, "I think I know you." I had never seen this woman before in my life, so I doubted her observation. She continued, "Do you sing on the stage at my church?" Once I verified the church she attended, I said, "Why yes - you do know me." I introduced myself and she did the same. I remember thinking to myself, "I really need to be careful in public." Meaning, there are people who know who I am, and I don't know who they are. They know I'm a Christian, and they probably don't know that I swear. That I used to smoke. That I display ridiculous road rage. It was at that very moment all those years ago I made a vow to no longer flip people off as I drove.
Because they might see me in church on Sunday and how embarrassing would that be?
I was no angel. I doubt anyone thought of me as one. I was a snot. A spoiled brat. A gal with a case of road rage, which makes no sense, because there was nothing but wide open roads in Wyoming. Nothing would fry my hide quite like a cattle crossing on the highway. Oh I used to get so mad at those rustlers! Couldn't they pick another day? Another time of day? The extra five minutes waiting for a herd of cattle to cross the road was infuriating! And remember the panhandler who made me so mad, when he used MY money to buy something he PROMISED me he wouldn't buy?! The nerve! People are such morons! Jerks!
And then that person - that Val - moved to North Dakota. And guess what? I didn't change. Road rage only intensified, but I still hold true to my vow and refuse to flip people off. I still get upset when I don't get my way. I still drop a cuss word (or three) when I get really mad. I still make judgments about people without knowing them or their story. I still sin, knowingly or not. I still fail at life. At loving. At being a good person.
And yet I hear those words to describe me. Amazing. Inspiring. Strong. It seems so....wrong. Most of you know me, like really know me, and some of you who really know me are still saying these things.
Here's what I want to address. You are too. You are strong. Amazing. Inspiring. Probably even more so than I am. What I've been through - losing Harlynn - is the most painful, excruciating, heart-wrenching journey I have ever been called to walk. Ever. Every day I physically ache because of missing her. Every day my eyes well, and spill over with tears because I had to bury the child I had so many hopes and dreams for. Every day I struggle to get out of bed. To be the wife my husband deserves. To be the best mommy Haley could ask for. To make Harlynn's short life matter. But none of that makes me stronger than anyone else. None of that makes me better than anyone else. None of that gives me an increase in status over anyone else.
Whatever you've suffered through, whatever you've experienced - whatever you've survived - you're amazing. You're strong. You're inspirational.
We all have journeys we're called to walk, and none of them are the same as someone else's. We all handle things differently. We all adopt different coping mechanisms. We all experience tremendous hurts. Tremendous pains. We all try to be better people at some point. We all fail.
I fail. Every day. Several times a day.
If I am amazing, if I am strong, if I am inspirational to any degree - it is only because my hope rests in knowing I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to save myself. That's already been done for me. I just have to trust. And nearly four months into this journey - I'm almost able to. (I am even failing at hoping sometimes!)
I want to caution you. I want to be as real and as forward as I can be: Don't put your stock in me. Don't let your hope rest in me. I am nobody. I am Everyman's Nobody. If I inspire or encourage you in any way, it's because there is a greater God at work. I'm just a gal who wants to give bad drivers the bird. Who wants to roll over and crumble into a puddle of tears. Who wants to spend her Saturdays in pajamas and eating ice cream. I'm just a gal who's being carried through this horrible, dark journey in the arms of one who can redeem this life. In the arms of the one who is holding my sweet baby Harlynn. In the arms of the only one who is able to carry every broken piece of me.
Lord lift me up and let me stand
By faith on Caanan's tableland
A higher plane than I have found