This past week, I have been turning pages of my old journals, clicking my way through my old blog posts and looking at pictures that almost make me unrecognizable. I’ve read the words of a broken and hurting soul that was longing to be loved, longing to be heard, longing to be healed. I’ve sifted through fake smiles, insecure stances and goofy face pictures; all hiding something deep inside that was too dark to speak of.
I’ve watched social media explode with suicide awareness week posts, stories about recovery, and pictures that show just how far people have come. I’ve read the #ikeptliving tag on all forms of social media and have been moved to tears on so many occasions. I’ve seen genuine smiles, transformed hearts, and the words of close friends and family speaking about what suicide awareness week means to them specifically.
But what about now? It’s Monday again and the posters have been taken down, my timeline isn’t filled with #ikeptliving pictures and quotes and the silence around suicide and mental disabilities is deafening yet again.
That dear sweet younger Brittney that poured her heart out over journal pages and awkwardly tried to not be at war with her body would have slid under the radar during last week. She would have kept things to herself, closed herself off, and allowed the harmful words she spoke to herself control her.
However, that’s not how the story ends. Little Brittney grew. She grew up physically and within the past year, she has grown spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. She has learned about freedom and forgiveness, recovery and grace. She has reconciled herself with her body and the past that distorted how things really were. She sits in seminary classes, drinks pumpkin spice lattes, and laughs without a care as the waves crash against the rocks while the sun beams down overhead. There’s something so different.
I still carry that little Brittney around with me. Every once and awhile I let her have her way, but always reminding her that tomorrows are real, forgiveness is real, and grace is extending far beyond the borders that contain my faith.
So this week, after all the posters have been removed from the walls, posts on social media are no longer directed at recovery and freedom and #ikeptliving, I celebrate and honor my life.
I honor the parts that shaped me, molded me, and transformed me into the person I am today. I honor the tears, the empty prayers, and the long nights praying for drastic changes.
I will celebrate me and where I am in the current moment. All the things I am learning and in some ways unlearning. I am celebrating shorts weather, community meals, classes, and a new life that began the moment I was facedown on my floor week one of seminary.
Sometimes we need reminders. We need little glimpses of hope in the midst of struggles and dark moments. While the week may have ended and social media doesn’t have such a large platform this week, I’m still celebrating, still living, still offering hope.
I pray that this week you find yourself celebrating, living an offering hope as well. Suicide awareness week is over, but the struggles that exist in people’s lives are not. There are people hurting; people who you wouldn’t even expect to struggle. Be that beacon of hope, the ray of light, that smiling face that looks them in the eyes and says, “me too.”