“Ordinary is painful when you were born to be great!” ~ T. D. Jakes
by: Donna R. Wood
When the Butterfly sheds the chrysalis, there will be loss. There will be collateral damage. It will be uncomfortable and even painful at times. But, when those wings unfurl for the first time, life takes a new path. It is no longer crawling along the branches and leaves, but floating above it all in victory.
I was born in the late 1960s with a congenital heart defect that could have ended my life before it ever began. It didn’t. I spent a good number of years wondering what I had been saved from; surely death at birth would have been a far better alternative than the life I had been born into.
This constant search for the meaning and purpose of my life led me down some very dark and treacherous roads. I found myself in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Everywhere I looked there was death and destruction. I was surrounded by living ghosts – people who only existed, until their bodies wore out, and the reaper came to claim them, one by one.
I was terrified, because I knew with each passing day I was becoming one of them. I found myself very much alone on a road with hundreds of people. We trudged along, bearing the weight of all our shame and guilt for decisions made or not made; for love given or withheld. We trudged along, dragging our baggage with us, hoping to find an oasis in the desert; a place to rest. The oasis never came.
In the end, I was a living ghost, the same as all the rest. However, in the depths of the wells of despair and demoralization, pain and humiliation, there was the glow of a soft flame of strength and courage. With each breath that sustained my life, the flame sputtered, clinging to the hope for redemption.
I struggled with my own perception of myself, placed there by each new label as it had been firmly attached to my soul – single mother [shameful,] Godless [damning,] damaged goods [demoralizing,] and poverty stricken [unworthy.] These are only a few of the labels that had been placed on me by the world; the world, not me.
In the realization that my life was a living testimony to those labels, I began to tear them off one by one.
I couldn’t change the fact that I was a single mother, but I chose to tear the label in half. Now, I am just a mother. How liberating that is.
I couldn’t change the fact that I am damaged goods, I was born that way. I removed the word damaged from the label, and the ‘s’ from the last word. Now I am just good. I am kind and considerate of others. I am not perfect, but I try every day to live in a state of soul over ego.
I could change my socio-economic status. I went to college and graduated – twice – and have recently returned to challenging myself through courses offered on-line. I took the only gift I was given at birth, the gift of writing, and capitalized on it. This is not what makes me simply worthy, but I will talk about this in a future post. Godless – how does one conquer the label of Godless in a world where being damned by your labels prevails? Just be Godly like all the rest? Being like all the rest didn’t seem to work out very well the first time, so it required a bit more work. I found that I could not expect or receive compassion from all the rest – I had too many labels to overcome. I could not expect or receive forgiveness from all the rest – I was a living ghost encroaching on the land of the truly living. I had nothing to offer, nothing to give. I was damned to the wilderness, where I had to find it on my own or not at all.
Your labels and my labels may not be the same; however, what we choose to do with our labels is what really matters in the end.