As I sit on my bedroom floor surrounded by boxes, I navigate through the difficult process of downsizing. Sorting through the clutter is harder than I expected because tucked away among books I'll never read again and the jeans I haven't worn in ten years, there are memories. A thousand little memories that make up my life: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good. That's an easy stroll down memory lane. Pictures of smiling faces and greeting cards filled with encouraging words are reminders that - even though life wasn’t perfect – it was good. Bonfires, sleepovers, fishing, lightning bugs, graduation, heading off to college, freedom, moving out west, meeting my husband, watching my babies grow, and so many more memories dance through my mind and bring a smile to my face. Life has been incredibly hard, but through it all, there was good.
The bad. Then there was that. Those were not Kodak moments, so the only images I have are those permanently pictured in my mind. Those I wish I could forget. And though I don’t have photographs to catalogue the drama, I have words. Twenty-nine journals from nearly every stage of my life. Most of them pour out details of a dysfunctional home filled with addiction and abuse. Later in my teenage years, I drew hearts around the name of my first love, and wrote out in detail what our future together would be like. Those times when my heart was broken were also meticulously described, and I am happy to announce the world didn’t come to an end. As a young mother, I described my fears and failures. (I’m convinced my children will need counseling once I’m done with them.) Twenty-nine reminders that life often deals us a bad hand, but it’s up to us whether we stay in the game or fold.
The ugly. I’m not talking about my physically awkward stage, though I certainly fit into that category. I had buck teeth, bad hair, and my mom was responsible for my wardrobe. Enough said. But there is an ugliness that goes deeper than the surface. An ugliness that is dark and destructive, and as I sort through everything, I reluctantly remember those places, too.
Who knew packing would be such an emotional journey? The weight of these memories bare down on me. I find it hard to breath. Now is not the time for a panic attack. I have to be out of my house in just a few days. There is no time for a breakdown. I stumble to my prayer closet, leaving behind the room full of memories. I drop to my knees. It was in that moment that a peace came over me...and I understood.
God allowed me to take this stroll down memory lane to show me how far we’ve come. All the good things were gifts from Him. He wasn’t responsible for the bad. As I read those twenty-nine journals, I understood how God was with me every step of the way; He always brought light to those dark, abject places.
As we close the chapter on one season of our lives and run full speed into the next, I battle anxiety. There are so many unknown factors, and that doesn’t bid well for a control freak. After looking back over my life and now forging ahead to the future, I know God can be trusted with the unknown. He is good...even when the world is bad and ugly!