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.