Well, I don’t know who I am writing this letter to, except that it is for me and basically everyone else, too. And full disclosure – I have no outline or plan for this. It might not even make sense. Am willing to risk it. Here we go.
Most of what I do in life is talk to people. People on the street, people at the restaurants I frequent, people at work, people online…old friends, strangers, my own family members. I just love talking to people. I cannot get enough of your stories. When I win the lottery, I will just take all of you to coffee all the time and listen to your stories. Alas, student loans and necessary employment.
But okay, here’s the thing. Most of your stories, our stories, have this common thread, and that common thread is pain. You feel pain, or you see pain somewhere else. There’s a lot of it. Your significant other hurt you or left you. Your sweet mama died. You’re watching the news about these shootings. Someone has used you, or abused you, or told you that you’re not any good. Or you think you’re good, but you’re not really sure. And you feel stuck. You feel stuck there. You have dreams and a vision for your life, or at least you did at one point, but you’ve kind of accepted that the pain is your new normal.
And you feel like you are holding your breath under water.
There’s a moment where you’re like, “Well, this is fine. I can do this.”
But the thing about that is you literally cannot hold your breath forever.
If you stay in that place, if you keep doing that, your thinking turns into panic.
“If I stay here, I’m gonna die.”
You have to come up for air.
I cannot get past it. I really just can’t.
So there is some truth I feel like we all just need to hear, and I want to speak it over all of us. I wish we could all be in my living room for this, but it is not a very big room, and my couch only seats 6 to probably 12 people if we all got really snuggly, but I hear that this is not everyone’s jam, so the Internet will do.
So just listen to these words.
You are worth everything now. Right this second.
I know. That’s audacious of me to say. Who am I to declare something like that? Something you need to know about me is that I believe in God. I mean, I believe in Him. And I believe that He speaks value over everyone – whether they believe in Him or not. I feel very good about telling you, then, about the immensity of your value. It is literally the most expansive thing in the universe, and whatever the thing is that is bigger than the universe. Do not know much about the solar system. It is fine.
So, anyway, I don’t really care who in your life has told you that you are a mess, or that you are stained, or worthless, or not thin or thick or tall or short or smart or pretty or talented or whatever enough. I really do not. It could have been your parent or your teacher, your mentor, some stranger on the Internet, some celebrity, and really it could have been you. I really don’t care. I care about them, and I will not pretend to know why they said that to you. It could have been out of love, and always listen for the love, but really it could have been out of delusion or defecit. The sad thing is that we may never really know, and may need to accept an apology we know we are never going to receive.
I asked God if this was an okay system, and He said, “Yes. I’ve never really thought of it that way. Good call.” (He probably has thought of it that way, but he knows I need a good pat on the back sometimes.)
So, as it turns out, you can declare freedom from those words, those non-truths. You have that power in your own life. You may be fourteen miles down a path of shame and heaviness and feel like it’s too late to turn around, but the thing about paths is that anything can be a path, and so you can just hop right off the one you’re on and start a brand new one. These are the rules. You can come up with some of your own, if you want. This may require a lot of work and therapy, maybe some good people to come alongside you, but you really can get off the bad path. You can leave the abusive relationship. You can go after that dream. You can call a therapist and talk about the grief that’s been eating away at your heart. You can put that bottle down and go to a meeting. You may need a friend to go with you, and that is fine. You may not have a friend, and if that’s holding you back, well, I will be your friend, and if I can’t, I will find you one. Find-A-Friend. This could be my thing.
Your pain, or whatever is keeping you on that path, actually does not have to cripple you, or keep you holding your breath under water until you die. Your pain can actually be your greatest teacher, if you let it. You can keep holding your breath, if you want. But you can also come up for air. They take the same amount of work. The things that you feel like have stained you – well, they might not be what you think they are. The thing about stains is that they can be used, and they can be removed. Sometimes this is the same thing.
Remember that time I was raped? This is a thing that happened. If this is the first time you are reading that news, I am so sorry for the blunt delivery. But the thing is, that event has no power over me anymore. For about five or six months, I held my breath about it. It kept me in shadows, in shame, in shackles, suffocating. I did a lot of work, and went to a lot of therapy, and accepted a lot of love, and then I spoke up about it – and it lost its power. And now I am walking so many sweet girls through the aftermaths of their rape, and this is not something I would have had the ability to do without it happening to me. My rape was not a death sentence. As a matter of fact, I have been able to bring more good into the world because of it, and I believe that is because God has equipped me to do that.
Every morning when I wake up, God says to me, “Good. You’re up. We have work to do.”
So hear me say this, with the entire reserve of His love and integrity and power to back me up:
You are worth everything now. It is time to believe it. It really is time. You can start your whole life over tomorrow. You can do it today, if you want. The people who told you that you were no good did not have the power to do that, and I am so sorry that they thought they did. I know you may feel scared, and that is okay. I was scared, too. You have to remember that your feelings are real, because you are feeling them, but they are not facts. Neither are other peoples’ opinions. This is good news.
I want you to take hold of your own authority. No one in the world has access to your thoughts and experiences and feelings. That is a you thing. No one can tell you how you feel. I cannot tell you that you are not scared when you are actually terrified and holding your breath under water feels very safe, thank you very much. I cannot pull you up to the surface. That is a you thing. I am just here to cheer you on and remind you that there is actually another way to live.
Please get up. Please come up for air. Please do not let your pain hold you back for one more minute, even. By all means, for the love, do what you need to do to heal and respond to your pain. This is important. It is holy work, and it is yours to do.
And here’s the other thing. I believe you. I believe that I trust that you know your pain better than anyone else. And I also believe in you. I believe in your ability to do the work and get to the healing. I know that everything hurts, but you need to know that everything can be healed. I don’t care who told you that it couldn’t. That is adorable of that person, that they think they have that much power. I love the enthusiasm, but I am just throwing it in the garbage right now, y’all. I will not have another second of us shutting each other down. There is just not time for that. We have so many better things to spend our time on, really.
I also love you guys. Not in like the cute Southern way, like in the actual “I want to know your story and know how I can help” way. I know it’s not sustainable, but I happen to think that efficient and sustainable are dirty words when it comes to love. My mom thinks I am a bit of a nut on this one, but the joke is on her, because she is where I learned it.
I’m going to stop talking now, because if I don’t, I will just go on forever. Just please believe me on this one. You are worthy of love and belonging. I think you need to hear that. You are worthy of them right now, even though you may feel like a lost mess. You do not have to get all cleaned up and figured out to be worthy of love and belonging. I think you have been scared that you are not worthy of those things, but you freaking are, and the truth is that you actually need them to survive. And that is an okay thing to admit. So let’s find that for you. Can this be my job? Can I start a GoFundMe? I will get back to y’all on this. Until then, I will just keep telling you true things.