Nothing is ever wasted

One of my favorite prose pieces is “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros. In the piece, she proposes this idea that we are not merely the age we are but a collection of the ages we have been. We experience the ages we have been in response to situations we are in

I am 27.

I recently went home for Thanksgiving. It was my first holiday with my family. I expected flash backs and hurt feelings over past memories but that didn’t happen.

I kept having flashbacks to being 19.

I’ve felt 19 on numerous occasions over the last year. I’m not really sure why. I think it has to do with that time in my life feeling so new, ready to embark on a fresh adventure.

 “Tonight feels like the last night of camp. 19, bare feet in wet grass. The sky red with a light breeze. I remember how sweaty I was, my cotton shirt clinging to my back. My hair a greasy mess. I had never felt better. I had spent my last $25 on this treasured Bible that I could carry around everywhere. $22 and some change if I remember correctly. And in that moment, when everything was silent and peaceful, I wasn’t thinking about what 7 years later would look like. I was only thinking about what it would look like when it was over. What redemption would look like.

Tonight, my only emotion is a memory.”

Redemption 7 years later didn’t look like what I thought it’d look like. It was different. I didn’t get married this year or end up where I had wanted to be. What I got was so much better.

I got my health back. Because of medical treatment, I get to have a future. A real one, full of plans and dreams. All with a fully-functioning brain and a heart for Jesus.

For 7 years, I weathered storms of illogical thinking, hallucinations and erratic behavior. I made plans I could never finish, dated men I could never commit to and talked faster than a Gilmore Girl.

Redemption didn’t come the way I thought it would. Instead of a knight in shining armor, it came in the form of a hospital gown and proper medication.

I remember being 19. I remember having my whole adulthood before my eyes and the wild uncertainty that I experienced with elated joy.

Wistfully, I regret the time I lost because I was sick. It would have made my life easier had I had been diagnosed earlier. But God ultimately allows what will bring Him the most glory. Somehow, this mess of a life that I’ve endured is not wasted time.

So as I move forward with making plans, forming commitments and nestling into God’s promises, I’m grateful for the future I get to have. I get to finish my undergrad, go to law school (hopefully) and learn to love this messy life God gave me. I’m grateful for the way things didn’t turn out.

Nothing is ever wasted.

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Candy Bars

One of my favorite childhood memories is of a teacher I had in grade school. She was a well-loved faculty member who was known for her kind and gentle nature. To be perfectly honest, my favorite part of being in her class was the candy bars.

At the beginning of the school year, she had us write down our birthday and favorite candy bar. Because, as she announced that fateful August morning, she would give us a full-size candy bar of our choosing on our birthday.

The stakes were high. I ran through the list of candy bars that I loved. My mother was not one to buy us candy so this was my big chance to get a treat.

Caramel. Chocolate. Nougat. Nuts. No nuts. The possibilities was endless.

I eventually decided on a 3 Musketeers bar because, as I told my classmates, the mousse in the center reminded me of ice cream. It was the best of both worlds.

When my day finally came, I savored every last bite of that candy bar. I bit off the chocolate part of the bar and licked the mousse. My classmates teased me as it took me a good five minutes to finish my candy bar.

I shrugged them off. I had taken my time to  choose that candy bar and I wanted to make my choice last, meant to be enjoyed.

And just like that candy bar, I’m left wondering how many choices I should have made slower. Our culture moves like a microwave, swiftly making decisions. What would my life look like if I treated choices and decision-making like I did when I was young?

Even more than that, how is it that 7 year old me is so much wiser than me now?