GD, OMG

I don’t like the curse word “g d” because I was raised to not use the name of God as a curse word. As an adult that is one of the things I have held to. I will even go so far as to correct others when they use that particular curse word. I was actually feeling pretty good about myself on this front. A few weeks ago my husband brought something to my attention. He made mention of how offing even out spoken followers of Jesus and children of God say “Oh my god.” His comment made me begin to take notice of this in myself and others. I see the name of God used out of context constantly. In books, in movies, even out of the mouths of believers. It made me stop and think before I opened my mouth. I started thinking about who God truly is to me. God is the creator of this universe. God is the author of our lives. God is the center of my life. God has given me every good thing I have. God has brought me out of every trial I have ever faced. God holds my very soul in his hands. I BELIEVE this with all my heart, mind, and soul. Yet I have used the name of God as an exclamation without a second thought. Over and over and over again. I have typed it. I have yelled it. I have whispered it. I have done this without even considering what I was saying. So I’ve made a commitment to God to no longer use his name without the respect, and honor the name of God of the universe should be given. I want to show God respect in every aspect of my life. How can I say I am doing that if I’m just randomly using his name without thought? Clearly, I can’t. So out of my mouth, or my fingertips, the name of God will be shown honor.  

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Silence

All my life I’ve hated quiet. When I was a teenager I’d sleep with headphones in and music blasting. I’d always have 1 earbud in with music playing so I’d never risk even a moment of silence. In the last few years it’s been books. I’d have an audiobook on constantly. I’d fall asleep listening to stories because I didn’t want to listen to myself thinking.6 months ago my husband and I started going to church. I hadn’t attended church regularly since I was a teenager, and quite honestly, when I was a teenager church was a social gathering for me. It was the one time a week I could see people my age. I didn’t go to learn Gods Word. I didn’t go to worship or build people up or anything. When my husband and I started attending our church we also started reading the Bible daily. We do this together and on our own. 

I’ve noticed changes in my husband more than myself over the last 6 months. I’ve seen his faith become stronger than I’d ever have believed possible. I’ve seen his calm when over his anxiety over and over again. I’ve seen him become a leader to the kids and I like never before in our relationship.

This week however we’ve taken our bible study time to a whole new level. We run a paper route which means we drive around all night throwing news papers. Yeah, some people still read actual news papers. My husband and I love our job because it gives us about 5 hours a night to just talk. Some of our deepest conversations have been had over news paper bags. The past few days we have been listening to the Bible read in audiobook while we drive. We listen to 4 hours of bible reading then we talk about what we’ve read. I ask questions about what I don’t understand. We share the things that got our attention the most. And something has started to happen to me this week.

Instead of needing a constant distraction I WANT the quiet. I want to lay in bed with my husband and just be thankful for the time to rest. Silence has become a gift, not something to be afraid of. Instead of listening to my audiobooks I want to listen to worship music. I notice the lack of God in the places he should be. I notice the wrongs in myself and I work to make them less. I miss my bible time when I don’t get it. Reading the Bible has gone from something I do out of obligation, to something I’m genuinely excited about doing. Church has become second home for my family, rather than something to be endured on sundays. My prayer life is a constant thing now instead of a last resort in emergencies. I’m beyond thankful for the changes God has been making in my heart. And I’m so excited to see what’s to come.     

The stranger.

It was a monday. Nothing spectacular about this day aside from the fact that it was the day I had decided to die. It was a decision that I had been making slowly but surely for years. My life wasn’t tragic, no horror story to tell. My life was just nothing. Just empty. So I decided to quit it. Why should I keep living a meaningless life? It was mine to do with what I pleased. So I decided to end it. It was a cloudy cold day. Not really leaving anything behind, leaving the world today. I got out of bed like any other Monday. I didn’t feel lost, not confused, not even depressed. I was calm. A sick kind of calm because I knew I’d never have to get out of bed again. I got dressed in my favorite jeans and soft shirt. I wanted to be comfortable that day. I decided to go buy coffee. Coffee was my favorite thing. One last favorite thing before I jumped. Yes. I was going to jump off the roof of this apartment building. The people who’d have to deal with the mess wouldn’t know me. They didn’t matter. It was the best way I’d decided after countless nights going. Through the pros and cons of ways to end my life. I pulled my hair back into a tight dark ponytail. I wanted everyone to see my face today. I didn’t wear a jacket or a sweater. I wanted to feel everything, the cold included. I walked to the little coffee shop on the corner. I ordered m˜ favorite drink for the last time. I wondered why no one saw what happened to me. How no one knew I’d be dead before lunch time. Right after this coffee in fact. I left the coffee shop calmly. Carrying my hot coffee, sipping slowly at the heat. That is when I saw you, and her. I wish now that I knew your names. Hers and yours. It still amazes me that my life was saved by people whose names I never will know. I remember what she looked like though. I could paint her picture perfectly. That is what I started to do, after I didn’t jump. I started to paint. Trying to capture her somewhere besides my memory I was walking home. I was moving slowly so I could drink the coffee. I didn’t want to drink it at home. I tripped. That was all. I tripped and my coffee went flying out of my hands and smashed onto the sidewalk. And she came up to me and took my hand. She was tiny. 3 years old, maybe 4. Just a little tiny girl. She took my hand in hers and said, “Don’t to it. Don’t.” And I just sat on the sidewalk holding the hand of a baby girl wondering how she could know what she seemed to. She held my hand tighter and pressed my hand to her face. “Don’t do it,. Go back to the shop and buy more coffee.” You came over then to get her. To take her home out of the cold and the disaster of my life. I didn’t want to let her hand go. I cared for that moment, I didn’t want to let go. But you were her dad and I was a crazy girl on the sidewalk. I let her hand go and tried to stand. I was shaking all over, and all I could look at was her. She was walking away with you but she looked back 1 more time and repeated her words. I picked myself up and did what she said. I went back to the shop and bought a new coffee. I walked home wondering what her name was I started to paint that day. Paint pictures of her. Tonight at my art display I saw you standing frozen staring at the portrait of your daughter. No doubt you are wondering how I know her. And I could never tell you. I could never tell you that your baby saved my life.

75 Days

75 Days 
I knew three things for certain the day I met Carley Anderson. I knew that she was blind. I knew that she was sick. And I knew that I wanted to know more. 
It was a beautiful California day. The sun was shining on the beach. The sand was covered with blankets and families and people enjoying their day. I was laying on the beach, on the edge of the water. I was collapsed next to my surfboard, exhausted. I had spent the first 4 hours of my day surfing. I had caught every wave I’d tried for. I’d had a perfect day. 
I saw her walking through the sand even before she tripped over my foot. She walked confidently even though she was walking with a cane. She walked like she knew exactly where she was going. She walked with her head held high even though she was completely and utterly bald. She wore a black 2 piece swimsuit. It wasn’t slutty like most of the girls who spilled their almost naked bodies over the sand. Her swimsuit only showed an inch of her sunken belly. I thought “Cancer” as soon as I saw her bare head and her thin body. 
I saw her coming toward me but I didn’t think to warn her before she stumbled over my foot. She landed on top of me, her legs tangled with mine and her small body pressing mine into the sand. 
“Shit, shit, shit. I’m so, so sorry,” She said as she scrambled to pull herself off of me. “I’m blind,” She added unnecessarily. 
I laughed. I wasn’t laughing at her exactly, more that I was laughing at the situation. A blind girl just tripped and fell on top of me, at the beach. It sounded like the start of a bad joke or something like that. 
“I’m sorry,” She said again. Her face was bright red. I realized how embarrassed she was and what a jerk I was for laughing. 
“No, it’s okay. I’m sorry. I should have told you I was here. I saw you coming I just didn’t think to say anything,” I said. 
“I follow the sound of the waves to the water,” She said. “Most families make noise so I don’t really crash into them. You were just so quiet. I had no idea you were there.” 
I loved this. I loved how she found the water. I loved how brave she was to walk all alone into the ocean with no way to see what was coming. She had crawled off of me and lay in the sand next to me. I found her hand and held onto it. “I’m Justin,” I said. “It’s nice to meet you.” 
“I’m Carley,” She said. “I’m sorry I tripped.”

“I’m sorry my feet are so big and I’m so quiet,” I said. 
She laughed. The sound of that was breath taking. Her laugh sucked the air from my entire body. “Carley, can I go swimming with you?” I asked her. 
She looked over at me. “You want to swim with me?” She asked. She sounded shocked. “I would love to.” She sat up pulling me with her because I hadn’t let her hand go. “Okay, swim with me,” She said. 
I stood up and just because she was so small and delicate looking, and because I’d never done anything like it I swept her up in my arms and carried her into the waves. She was laughing breathlessly from the cold and the shock of being picked up and carried away by a complete stranger. I set her on her feet far enough out that the waves would have come up over her head every time they came in if I hadn’t picked her up each time. We settled in to a rhythm. 
I’d set her on her feet when the waves were calm then scoop her up into my arms when they broke around us. She laughed hard and free every time I touched her. After 20 minutes of this she lay on her back and floated in the waves. I stood there mesmerized by how at peace she looked in the water. I didn’t say a word I just watched her breath in and out. 
Finally she swam to me and took my hand. “Justin, will you take me back to shore? Help me find my cane?” She asked. 
“Of course.” I carried her again. I wrapped her in my oversized beach towel and lay her in the sand. 
“Can I take you somewhere?” I asked. 
She shook her head. “I need to rest,” She said. 
“It’s not a good idea to rest here. You’ll get sunburned. Can I take you to your house? Or to whoever brought you here?” 
She shook her head again. “No one brought me, I walked. I can’t walk anymore for a while though. My body can’t. I just need to rest.” Her voice was slowing like she was drugged, or completely exhausted. 
“Baby you don’t have to walk anywhere. I’ll carry you. You’re not heavy I promise. Just tell me where.” 
Her hand lifted like she wanted to point then dropped back to the sand. 
“I’m the smallest beach house. The white one with the huge glass front windows.” Her lips moved slower and slower with each word but I knew where she meant. I passed that little house every time I came to surf. I didn’t say another word. I just picked her up and carried her to my truck. She was asleep by the time I buckled her into my front seat. 
I went back for my board and her cane. I drove to her little beach house and found the door unlocked. I carried her out of my truck and lay her in her huge white bed. I should have left then. I should have walked out and hoped I’d see her again someday. But I couldn’t. I had to stay. I lay down next to her in my swim shorts. I draped one arm over her and I fell asleep. 
When I woke up a much different girl sat next to me. She smacked my arm, that’s what had woken me in the first place. 
“What the hell are you doing in my bed?” She yelled at me. 
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I, You, you fell asleep on the beach. You told me where you lived and I brought you home. And then I just didn’t want to leave you here alone.” Her pissed off expression fell off of her face as soon as I started rambling out my apology. 
“You’re real?” She asked. 
“Of course I am. What do you mean?” 
She blushed. “I have cancer. Sometimes the medication I take and the tumor itself make me imagine things. But never so real as you. And never for so long.” As she spoke her hand reached out. I took it without thinking. 
“So, you have cancer?” 
She nodded. “I’m going to die,” She said. She said it simply. She didn’t sound afraid at all. It was just a statement. The ocean is beautiful. I can swim. I’m going to die. It was just a clear fact. I sat there not knowing what to say. Then as the silence got more and more uncomfortable she started laughing. 
“You don’t know what to say, right?”

“No. I don’t know what to say.”

“It’s okay. I’m okay with it. I’m going to die. I know that.” “Why are you at the beach then? If you’re going to die?” 
She smiled. “My family raised all this money for treatment. I was never going to get better. I did some treatment and it was so awful. I’ve never been so sick. So I took the money and I rented this house for 6 months. I won’t live to the end of the lease. I know that. But I’ll get an entire summer in a beach house. I can walk to the ocean by myself every day. When I get worse my sister will come stay with me until I die. But for now I wanted to do it alone. I’ve never lived alone before and since life is ending soon I wanted that chance.” 
She spoke of her life ending so easily. I didn’t even know this girl and I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry for weeks because a girl who thought like she did shouldn’t die. She shouldn’t be sick. She should be swimming and laughing in the ocean. I didn’t say anything. I wrapped my arms around her and I pulled her into my lap. I knew it wasn’t right for a complete stranger to do that but I had to. I had to hold her because she was beautiful. She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. 
She didn’t pull away. She lean back into me. I did something in that moment that could have qualified as insane. I lay back pulling her on top of me and I asked her a question. 
“Can I stay with you?” 
She laughed. “What?” 
“I’ve never been in love before. But I think I fell a little bit in love with you today on the beach. I saw you walking out into the water with no fear at all. You were the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. The way you laughed with me in the waves. The way you fell asleep on the beach. The way you just told me you’re going to die. It’s all incredible. I want to be here. I want to watch you live until the living is over.” 
I expected her to yell at me. I expected her to tell me I was insane and to get the hell out of her pretty little beach house. But she didn’t say any of that. She pulled herself closer to me and relaxed more into my body. 
“You can stay,” She said. “You can be my partner in this little bit of happiness I get here and now.” 
That was how my 75 days with Carley started. I changed my life very quickly. I quit my job at the ocean side cafe (where I served drinks to healthy girls 5 nights a week) that very first day. I called my roommate and I lied to him. I told him I had a family emergency, my mother was sick. I had to skip out on our apartment. He was pissed but it didn’t matter. Everything that wasn’t Carley had stopped mattering that day. 
In a matter of about 20 minutes, 2 conversations, I had cut ties with everyone in California who expected anything from me. It was only about her. Carley. It would only be about her until it couldn’t be anymore. She sat in the middle of her bed watching me make phone calls with a very small smile on her face. When I was done with the phone calls I pulled her back into my lap and asked her to talk. 
“Tell me your story? I’m meeting you at the end of it. I want to know what came first.” 
She told it all to me. She had been blind her entire life. She had gotten cancer when she was a year old. She had been healthy her whole life, until she wasn’t anymore. “I was in school,” She said. “I wanted to be a writer. I worked so hard. I cared so much about my grades. I cared so much about what people thought of me. Then I got sick. The brain tumor came quickly. I changed my life. Stopped my life. My family wanted me to fight it. TO do treatments and get 
better. But there was no getting better. I knew that. I tried. I did treatments for 6 months but the tumor wasn’t getting smaller. The cancer wasn’t being hurt by the poison. My body was. So I prayed. I asked God if he wanted me to keep living through that. The night I prayed that prayer I had a dream of the ocean. I don’t know if it was God telling me that was my heaven or not. But I knew it was God telling me I didn’t have to live in that hell anymore. So I quit. I told my doctor I wanted to stop treatment then I told my family. They were all so angry. They probably still are. But I think when your life is ending you get to be selfish. I wanted this. I wanted the ocean.” 
She stopped talking then for a moment. She pressed her lips against my chest in a very soft kiss. “I didn’t know it yet, but I wanted you. I wanted to live a life that was just mine for a while. I’m 23 and all my life I had been working so that I could have my own life someday. I’m not getting any more somedays. So I took my own.” 
I loved the simplicity of this answer. I also understood why her family was so angry. If this girl had been mine, if I’d been her boyfriend before she got sick I would have been livid if she chose to leave me. If I’d met a mermaid girl in the waves who hadn’t been sick, then watched her get sick, I would have wanted her to fight it too. 
After knowing her for a few hours I already knew she’d changed my life forever. After she told me her story I understood some things. I knew there was beauty in the world that I had never seen and I knew I’d treasure every moment I got with her. I promised myself that first day I would make this her love story. I’d give her that someday for as long as she was with me. It’s a very strange feeling when the happiest time of your life is the ending of someone else’s life. 
It was an ache that lived in my heart every single moment that I was with her. The ache was lost in the mornings we swam in the ocean. It was lost in her beautiful laugh. As the days I got with her added up, 2 weeks, one month, 2 months, the ache became more real. We fell into a pattern very easily. We would wake with the sunrise. I’d make sure she ate with her pain medication. Then we would spend every moment that she was awake in the ocean. 
She played like a child. Completely carefree and happy. I would carry her back to the house when she couldn’t move anymore. The time she got to be awake, happy and truly with me, grew smaller every day. She slept more and took more pills as the days added up. In the last 2 weeks she couldn’t get out of her bed anymore. 
We would lay and whisper about God and heaven. She told me she hoped there was an ocean there for her. I had not truly believed in anything before I met her. I had vague ideas of some higher power. But watching the complete faith she had in her God, in the heaven she was going to, changed my view of the world I had known. I wanted a faith like that. 
Even when she was in pain she wasn’t angry with her God. She would wrap herself around me while she shook and she would whisper thank you to God for me, for the ocean, for the day. I had never seen that kind of strength. I would watch her pray and she looked at peace. The same way she did that first day in the waves. 
I asked her if I should call her family when I knew her time was running out but she said no. She told me she had letters for all of them that I should give them after. The day Carley died, the 75th day I was with her she woke up strong. She sat up in bed and she shook my shoulder. She asked me to go to the water with her. It had been a week and a half since she’d been strong enough to get out of bed. 
I didn’t ask her if she was sure, I just picked her up and carried her out into the waves. She swam on her own and she laughed. That night when we were in bed she kissed me. All of the days I was with her she hadn’t kissed me once aside from the small kiss on my chest that first day. This kiss was different. She pressed her lips to mine for just one moment. Her mouth fit mine perfectly. I wondered in that second why I hadn’t kissed her before right then. She pulled away too soon and she started to talk. 
“Justin, I’m going to die.”

“I know that,” I said. It had gotten easier to talk about it with her. “No,” She said. “I’m going to die soon. Probably tonight or tomorrow.” 
I didn’t argue. I could feel something changing in her as she spoke. “I know,” I said. 
She smiled a very sweet smile. “Will you stay with me?’ I wrapped my arms around her as tightly as I could without hurting her. 
“Of course I will. I’ll stay until the end.” 

What doesn’t work, and what does.

What doesn’t work, and what does.

I’ve always been a different kind of person. I feel things deeply and I have a very hard time letting go of anything. When I was 11 and my family moved from California to a small town in Arizona what I was feeling was incredibly alone. For more than 10 years I tried to find a way to break that feeling. I tried to make myself feel anything else because the loneliness was eating me alive and I didn’t want to be entirely consumed. What I found was a lot of things that didn’t work. I found a lifestyle and an attitude that kept me from disappearing altogether, but in no way filled the empty, lonely places in my soul.CUTTING DIDN’T WORK!

For a very long time I believed slicing myself apart was the only way I could control the feelings that would rip through my head. I thought that lies and blood and secrets and pain were the best I was going to get. I wrapped myself in the identity of a depressed emotional girl and I held on to that tightly. I held my knives and my pain and my scars very close because I believed they defined me. I didn’t really want to be broken, but that was far better than being nothing at all.

STARVING DIDN’T WORK.

When I was 16 I put all the will I had into quieting the part of myself that told me I was UGLY, FAT, NASTY, WORTHLESS. I went on the diet. I pulled all my mastery at lying and hiding to the surface and I stopped eating. I lost 40 pounds within the span of 2 months and I sucked up the approval of everyone I knew. I thanked my parents and siblings and boyfriend when they told me I looked sick. I never told anyone when I passed out on the living room floor. I didn’t care when handfuls of my hair started coming out. None of it mattered. The feeling of being empty because I was starving was far better than the nameless ache for SOMETHING that I’d always had before.

LOVE DIDN’T WORK.

Falling in love with the wrong boys didn’t work. The label of being someone’s girlfriend didn’t give me the belonging I believed I needed. I still felt every bit as lost as I had before, but with the added fear that the boy would leave me. Because of course, I wasn’t good enough for them anyways. Falling in love with the RIGHT man didn’t work. Even when I found the man of my dreams, who has loved me the right way from the moment we met, I still didn’t feel like I was good enough. Why would this beautiful, smart, funny, charming man want a wreck of a girl like me?

CONTROL DIDN’T WORK.

Trying to control EVERY aspect of my life and my families life didn’t make me feel any more at peace than I had at any other point in my life. Budgeting our money, obsessively scheduling our time, and constantly worrying about absolutely everything DID NOT WORK. Those things did however drive my family crazy. I became someone I didn’t like being around. The expectations I put on myself and everyone else were nothing short of impossible to reach. So what have I learned from all of these failed attempts to make myself happy?

IT WON’T WORK.

I will never be able to make myself feel better. I will never be able to cut or starve or control the emptiness away. I can’t make my life or the lives of those I love perfect. I’ve learned that I DON’T HAVE TO. Through a faith that is growing every single day, I’ve learned that no matter what I do to mess it up, God does in fact have a plan for my life. In spite of my flaws and all of my brokenness I am loved beyond understanding. I have learned, and am still learning, that if I let go and trust I will be better than okay. Everything will work out exactly the way God means for it to work out. I’ve learned that even the things I’ve seen as bad in my life were being used for good. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect because I’m already perfectly loved. In all of this, I am finally coming to know PEACE.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/jer.29.11.niv

Surface Christian.

I never would have described myself as a surface Christian. I mean, I have always believed in God and Jesus. I grew up in church and youth groups and the whole thing. If you had asked me yesterday if I had a strong faith, if I was a true believer I would have said yes, and I would have believed I was being honest. I realized today though that I’ve been living my life on the very edge of faith. I’ve been standing on the shore rather than diving completely into the ocean.A couple of months ago my husband and I were invited to church by the man who presided over our wedding. Because my husband and I felt such a genuine connection with this man we decided to check the church out. We had been together for 2 years and while we both have a true relationship with God, life and our circumstances had prevented us from attending church regularly. We went into this church with open minds but not very high expectations. We were quickly reminded of how God works in our lives. 

Every week the message has had something to do with 1 aspect of our lives or another. My husband has totally immersed  himself in studying the Bible and prayer in a way that I’ve never seen him do before. Because of his true desire to become closer to God he has become a totally different person. He has a peace surrounding him that I can’t even believe some days. He has become quicker to pray and slower to react in every situation. Until today however, I wasn’t really getting it. I was seeing the changes in my husband and the strengthening of our relationship because of it, but I wasn’t finding that peace or that closeness in my own relationship with God.

Today I finally prayed. I asked God to show me what it was that I’ve been missing. I asked him to show me why I’m still panicking over every little thing and getting so lost in the stress of life. I asked to truly feel Gods spirit in my heart. And something remarkable happened to me.

As I stood praying in church with my husband and kids I had an experience that I’ve rarely had in my life. I heard a voice in my head that was absolutely not mine. I felt the words in every part of my soul. God spoke to me and said, “I have given you so much in your unbelief. Why do you still doubt?” This statement applies to my children. When I was 18 I had a hysterectomy. I chose at that age to not risk passing the gene that caused my cancer along to my babies. As a result of that choice, I believed I would never have children. In spite of my doubt and worries and stresses, God saw it fit to bless me with a daughter that inspires me every single day, a little boy that stole my heart completely, and an angel baby boy who I want more than anything to make proud.

Today when I looked at these gifts from God that I did nothing to deserve I felt like a fool. I have seen the evidence of God working in my life every day for the last 24 years yet still I’ve held onto my pride. My human nature told me I didn’t need to get any deeper into my relationship with God than I already was. I was on the surface of Gods love, only dipping my toes into what this relationship could be. Today I made the choice to accept this invitation from God. I chose to let go of every single doubt and every bit of my human stubbornness to handle my life myself. Today I decided to throw my arms out to God and dive completely into the Ocean.

Scars

I have scars. They are scattered over my thighs, my stomach, and my lower back. For the past 10 years of my life these scars defined a huge part of who I was. These scars said that I was a crazy mess of a girl. These scars said I couldn’t find a healthy way to cope with life. These scars said I was WEAK. So I hid my scars. I lived summers in Arizona and Las Vegas never wearing anything aside from jeans because I was afraid to have anyone see my scars. When I was 14 and my family found out I had been cutting myself they thought I was doing it for attention. My mother was embarrassed by what I’d been doing so she told me to stop it. The problem was I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t know how else to calm the storms inside of my head. I knew only that cutting my skin open made me feel better. So because I didn’t know how to stop I became better at hiding. My cutting moved from my legs to my back and stomach where the evidence was much easier to hide. Within my family it became just another thing we didn’t talk about. I became a master at lying and very good at pretending I was okay. I also became deeply ashamed of my scars. Pretty, healthy, happy girls didn’t cut themselves. Normal girls didn’t crave pain and blood and secrets. When I grew up and decided to stop hating myself my scars were an issue. They were a reminder of how lost I could get in my emotions. They were visible proof of what a freak I had been. As I grew more confident in the person I was in every other area of my life, my blindness, my personality, my ability to take care of myself and others, my scars remained a serious point of shame for me. They continued to be a reason to hate my body, my past, and who I had been. This summer when it started to get hot I decided I was done. I wasn’t going to spend one more day hiding who I was. The very real truth is that I spent the majority of my life being broken and in a lot of ways, I was comfortable with that. It was what I knew. Changing who you’ve always been takes a huge amount of work and perseverance. Part of being strong for me now is accepting all the ways I wasn’t. Being confident means I can wear shorts or a dress that doesn’t go to the floor. Being me hasn’t always been perfect. I haven’t always done the healthy thing. I haven’t always been happy. I haven’t always been free from shame and embarrassment, but today I am. I’m PROUD of my scars because I’m proud of who I have become. I’m proud to say that I don’t have to keep secrets anymore. I’m proud to say that I no longer have to pretend I’m okay. Because I’m so much better than okay now.