I received a wonderful and kind message from someone I haven’t heard from or known anything about for 25 years. I find it inconceivable to be able to say that I am old enough to have not seen someone for that long. Aren’t I still about 25? Well, maybe 30 at most.
John was the force of energy and enthusiasm behind a performing group I had the chance to be a part of in college. It was electrifying for me. I had always wanted to sing and dance and perform, but was too shy and afraid. For the first time in my life I was stepping forward and working with others who knew so much more than I did and doing something that I loved. It scared me to death and for the first few weeks I was physically sick before going in to the early, early morning rehearsals.
But everyone kind of took me in and taught me what they knew and soon we were learning together. I felt like we would be more than friends, we would be family all our lives. They had had such a significant impact on me and my vision of myself.
Of course, things change. People graduate, get married, go to post graduate studies, and move on with their lives. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way for any of them. They deserve every opportunity and possibility that life has to offer.
I noticed though, that not only had my situation changed, but I had changed. I now had the courage to do difficult things in front of other people. This was an important part of my college education because it went with me into my career. I could now travel to different parts of the country and learn, teach, train, and create.
While doing this I crossed paths with some pretty incredible people. Again, I thought that we would be more than friends, we would be family all our lives. My vision of myself continued to take shape and I dared to dream.
But as the dream got bigger, my ability to keep the symptoms of mental illness in check diminished. The confident Greg who learned that he could do scary things and make big decisions was there some days; others, however, the young and inexperienced Greg seemed to come back. Things were scary again.
The dream, of necessity, had to get smaller.
This journey through mental illness has changed me, changed who I used to be. For a while I thought that it was robbing me of who I was meant to be. You see, I felt I was headed to be quite a mover and a shaker, someone who was doing big things for a big salary.
I was going to make a difference.
It was a pretty hard blow to accept when Ann and I made the decision that it was time to leave the workforce before I did something pretty terrible and got fired, or hurt someone, or just gave up and ended it all.
I think it was safe to say that the Greg who could get up on stage and sing and dance and perform and absolutely love the thrill of it all wasn’t there anymore.
The confidence was gone.
Being the question asker that I am, I wondered, where does confidence come from?
Had I based it in a series of accolades and positive reinforcement from others? I think those things always help build someone up and lets them know that they indeed can do something hard.
But if you can’t do those things anymore, then what?
As we approach the Easter season, our minds are drawn to the One who lived a life of complete success. He never failed at anything. If anyone deserves to be raised up on a pedestal and revered, it is He.
To have that kind of confidence, that surety of direction, that ability to conquer fear would make one powerful beyond description. Certainly, we have witnessed many who have attempted to duplicate that kind of record of never getting it wrong.
But in the process, haven’t they ended up getting the things that matter the most, terribly, terribly wrong?
Maybe the secret isn’t in being bigger and bigger and better and better. Those who are larger than life don’t really have any advantage over the one who quietly supports and makes sure that things are cleaned up and taken care of after the lights are turned off.
“I have come to do the will of the Father.”
“Not my will, Lord, but Thine be done.”
Even the person who only attends a worship service on a yearly basis knows these verses.
We know the verses, but do we know what they mean?
I think they mean that the secret isn’t really a secret.
Yes, my life is completely different than it was planned to be. I would bet that yours is too. It happens to most of us.
And in the end, aren’t we grateful that it is?
Some days it is still too hard to dare to dream. I’m learning how to get through those.
But some days, I begin again. I feel like that young college student driving through the cold early mornings to rehearsal , a little sick, a little afraid, but heading toward it nonetheless.
Because this time through, I get to take all my learned experiences and memories with me. Who I am is a wonderful mosaic made of countless interactions, inspirations, successes and failures.
And knowing that I failed and succeeded and will most likely fail again, I reach out and take the offered Hand, the Hand that was always there but I somehow missed before in my excitement and enthusiasm.
We have become more than friends, I know that we will be family all our lives. My vision of myself is clearer now than it has ever been.
This is who I am meant to be. I want my will to match His. I want to do the things that He would have me do.
Now I am quietly confident in the new and better dream, and I am humbly grateful for it.