I don’t remember who she was or even what the meeting was about. But I do remember exactly where I was sitting and what I thought when she rattled off her statistics. Children of divorced parents were so many times more likely to do this. Children of single parent households were less likely to do that.
“I will prove her wrong. I will prove them all wrong,” I thought to my 13 year-old self. “I will never become that person, and I will never let this be an issue for my children.”
Fast forward 19 years. The perfectionist in me rose to the challenge and proved the statistics wrong. I said no to drugs and yes to education. I worked hard and checked off the boxes one by one. High school education. Check. College education. Check. Check. Husband. Check. Job. Check. House with a picket fence. Check.
As I was busy checking off the boxes, I was also getting closer to the day where I’d have to make one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life, still to this day. Faced with the choice of raising my daughter in an unhealthy home or doing to her the one thing that I abhorred that had been done to me, I wept at the options.
How have I ended up in this place? Why did I let it go this far? What will my life look like if I become the one thing I swore I would never be?
And now, a few steps past the rawness of that season, I’ve realized a few things about ending up as the person I never wanted to be.
We will all do or say or think or experience things that we never want to do or say or think or experience. It’s called life. And knee-jerk reactions and weaknesses and fear and anger and unpredictable turns of events are real and life changing. So, we can hold ourselves to a standard of perfection or we can hold ourselves to a standard of grace. After years of choosing the former, I’ve now chosen the latter.
Because as much as I’d like to be without fault and always get it right the first time, I don’t. And sometimes, I think we learn valuable lessons the second time or the third time around as we wrestle with life being life.
What happens in our life describes what we have been through, it doesn’t define who we are or where we are going.
We are not defined by our past. We are defined by truth. Really accepting this…and I mean really.accepting.this has changed my whole perspective on my life. So many times, we have needed a lesson or a person or a skill that we’ve gleaned from something in our past to prepare us for our future. It may feel like it was time wasted, or a season of one continuous mistake after another, but then one day or one conversation and it all becomes clear. And then we can approach the same obstacle or issue or situation with more wisdom, more compassion, more empathy and awareness as we keep moving forward.
Forgiving and accepting ourselves is a non-negotiable. This one is zinger for me. I have become a lot more compassionate as I’ve lived through some life…for everyone else but me. And sometimes I have to tell gremlin Kelli to sit down and zip it. Because here’s what I know: self-deprecation isn’t the journey to living with influence and intentionality. It will hold you paralyzed. So we have to accept that we are human beings, created in the image of a loving God, but not equally as perfect. The best part is, He doesn’t need us to be perfect, friends. He just needs us to be willing to extend ourselves the same grace and forgiveness we extend to others, the same grace and forgiveness that he extends to us.
So in becoming the me I never wanted to be, what I’ve realized is, I’m becoming the person I’ve been intended to be all along. This is the journey I was meant to have.
What you’ve been through and what you’re going through don’t define you. They’re shaping you to be exactly who you’re meant to be, too. I hope that brings you freedom and peace.