We have all done some things in our lives that we are ashamed of. Many times we have wished that we could go back and change what happened. We beat ourselves up over and over again, and we go over what happened in our minds to see what we could have done differently. Yet, at the end of all of that, we are still at the same place. We can still change nothing. That does not stop us from repeating the cycle time and time again. I was one who repeated that cycle so many times that I began to believe that I could never escape. I thought that because of what I’d done, I deserved to feel how I felt. I was afraid to open myself back up and believe that what happened was truly in the past, so I slowly built up walls around me to keep others from getting too close and finding out my “dirty little secret”. Then, the walls were not enough so I put on a roof on my house by telling myself that the only way I could stay free is by keeping myself sheltered. What I failed to realize is that this house I built through fear, was actually keeping me bound. The safe haven that I fabricated in my false sense of reality–because of the fear that convinced me–was a place that kept me from moving forward. I peeked out of the windows and saw everyone else going by, and when they looked towards this house that I built, I quickly stepped away because I couldn’t let anyone see my “dirty little secret”. Eventually though, the house began to suffocate me, and I had a hard time breathing. I was tired of eating the same lies and drinking the same doubt. I decided to open the door and try stepping out. When I first tried to do this I succumbed to the fear again, and I hid behind the door. As time passed I began to step closer and closer toward stepping outside. When I finally stepped outside, I realized that things were not so scary on the “outside”. Fear still lapped at my back, and I started to turn back to the safety where no one could find out what I had done. Then I realized that I really could not change the past, and no one could help me to move on if I did not let them. That is when I starting running forward and never looked back. Now, there are still some things about me I would rather not be known, but I know now that I am helping no one by keeping myself in a box. Someone may need to know what I have done so they will know how to move forward. I also realized that everyone has the proverbial skeletons in their closet. Some open up the closet and sweep out the cobwebs every now and then, but they are still there. Don’t let your skeletons or “dirty little secrets keep you from living a fulfilling life. Surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally, and who can encourage you even without knowing your entire life story. You are more than where you’ve been and what you’ve done. You are an amazing creation, and nothing you have ever done can change that fact. Step out of that house that fear built around you, and step into all that you have ever wanted to be.
A few days ago I had a client come into my office, and I have to admit that I had prepared myself for the worst even before she began telling me her story. Before the end of the conversation she had me hitting myself because she reminded me to not judge so quickly. This client came into the office seeking assistance with something, and as we spoke, she told me a part of her life story. She had been diagnosed with cancer and an inoperable brain tumor some time before, but she was still determined to live her life. A few days before coming to my office, she went to the hospital due to severe stomach pains. Before coming to me doctors told her that she was pregnant, but when she went to get the pains checked out she found that there was a tumor in her stomach the size of a five month old fetus. I asked her how she was able to keep smiling and seeming like nothing was wrong. She said to me, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Cancer is a small thing.” Before my tears could flow I excused myself from my office. This woman, in one moment, changed my perspective on everything going on around me. In the midst of a brain tumor and just having surgery for another tumor, she found a sense of peace and acceptance. She did not like the cards that she had been dealt, but she stood strong on her faith in God, and she believed that what was happening in her life was a small thing. Even more, she encouraged others along the way. That client was a reminder to me that no matter what is happening in each of our lives, there is always someone in a worse situation than we are. We get stressed trying to figure out which bill to pay and when, but she refused to stress even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. If only we could find that peace that she had in the midst of her trials, we could live more fulfilling lives. So, today, I just want to remind you that it is never as bad as it seems. It is possible to still have joy and peace in the midst of any of your circumstances. Know that what it looks like right now is not how it will always be. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Instead, see the bigger purpose.