Sometimes what we need isn’t outside ourselves, it’s within our soul. We just need to embrace the courage to dig deep and find it. Two years ago, almost three now, one of my best friends died of cystic fibrosis. Some might think this happening on your birthday would be a difficult reminder of a time of sadness. It is that, but I am also reminded every year of the light she shone into the world every second. I am reminded that no matter what is happening around us, or what seems to be happening to us, within our souls we have something the world will benefit from.
Some people sing. Some dance. Some do volunteer work. Some start meaningful conversations for change. Some help others achieve their dreams. Some pray for the world and its people. Some wholeheartedly embrace time with friends and family. Some keep those they meet on the edge of their seat with the stories they tell. But some, probably many at some time in their lives, struggle to find their gifts to share. There are so many options of what to spend our time doing it can be difficult to find what we know to be truly ‘us’. I know I have searched far and wide for what I thought would bring peace to my heart and provide a sense of purpose.
I searched at university—two of them so far, in fact. I searched in sports teams playing at all different competition levels. I searched for someone to share life with, someone who I thought would help fill the hole inside my heart. A hole which had been present most of my life. I searched here in New Zealand. I searched overseas. I searched while travelling between destination on all different modes of transport; planes and trains cars, all to no avail. (Though I did find out I love travelling by train.) I searched in my wardrobe. I searched the guitar riffs of solid rock music. I searched in the lyrics of deeply emotional ballads. But, through it all, I felt like something was missing. One day, I even searched in the idea that trying to flip my car over a median strip would help me fill that void. Thankfully I never did attempt to become an amateur stuntman.
Instead I prayed. I didn’t know what I was praying for, but I prayed. Every day. I’ve realised—altogether too slowly for my liking—that it’s only when I release the control I think I have on my life that I begin to understand how to make progress. The keyword here: begin. I’m still in the fledgling phase of my journey and might be my entire life. Releasing control does not mean ceasing to do. Releasing control does not mean abdicating responsibility for my life. It means accepting the hours of hard work required to turn an out-there idea into a beautiful reality. It means finding the right people who can provide expertise where I currently lack. It means sharing my light with others to encourage them when they fall.
It means remembering friends no longer with me, and using every ounce of strength I have in my bones to live the best I can, to honour their memory.
I am a chronic overthinker. I spend too much time trying to find the absolute best way to do something, thinking about all the ways it could go wrong, about failure. I need to get stuck in; to do. Every time we try something new we are winning. Whether it turns out how we want it to, or not, we have gained knowledge we didn’t have before we tried.
My friend taught me this many times. She tried new things every day, all the while knowing she might not get the chance to use these newfound skills.
I have the opportunity to do this. To continue putting myself out there, to share what is within my soul. And as my birthday approaches in the start of the new year, I am reminded of the light she shared with the world which continues to shine brightly in those whose lives she touched.
In this season of giving, when Jesus was born unto the world, take the time to remember the beauty in your life. From the big things, like finishing writing the first draft of a book, all the way down to the little things, like watching a beautiful sunset at the end of a long day.
Check back Thursday at 19:00NZST for the story inspired by this friend’s short but absolutely wonderful life, and the way she taught me how to live.
Wherever you are, I hope you can believe in the awesome things you are capable of. Peace to you, dear friends.