I was thinking today, I've been through a lot. Of course, in the scheme of the world I'm one small person in very very vast waters, but it doesn't take away from the fact that I've lived for twenty years and I can say that I've been through some tough stuff. Before I get too deep into what I mean, I want to share with you just a little bit of the last 6 years of my life. My first year of high school I lost my papa (grandfather) to pancreatic cancer. We were never crazy close while I was growing up, but his life in the last few months were some of the most profound I've ever witnessed. I miss him dearly.
Something much more traumatic happened to me the next year when one of my best friends drowned in his own swimming pool. Emotions can be fickle simply because you don't really know what they're going to be from moment to moment. You know what you want them to be or maybe what you think they should be, but they know you better than anyone else sometimes. At first all I wanted to do was sob, but I couldn't. That would come later. All I could do was stand and stare into the void of my mind while they put him in the only body bag I would see to this day. It was as if I was on auto-pilot and any comforting I did for the family was an experience outside of my body. There were no thoughts, no feelings...just an emptiness. Needless to say, that moment has stayed with me to this very day and I miss that very best friend that knew me better than most people ever could.
The next summer would be one that would break my heart. The summer and the girl. The girl I thought I would marry and the summer, well, I thought it would never end. Both of my conclusions were unrequited and mislead. I look back now and remember almost every aspect of that time, but it's blurry. It's blurry like muddy waters or the translucent glow of a highway sign in the cover of fog.
During these times my aunt and uncle would die, leaving another gaping whole in the family, and in my cousin's heart. I would go through stints of drowning the pain of my broken heart in self abuse and masochistic addictions, only to come out feeling the same as when I entered. I was crippled, damaged, defective, and deprived of all of who I was.
All of this was hard for me, but as I recovered and renewed my relationship with Christ I truly discovered who I was. I found my identity but then came another test. This one was as crippling as any I'd been through before. My parent's separation. This took the foundation right from under me because my parents had been married for twenty years. They raised me in church and loved me like parents should. They weren't always perfect, but they did their best. Despite all of this, suddenly, the marriage that I believed in most in this world was gone. It hurt. It hurt so much and it still does. I had to make a choice though; and this was my test. How would I react this time? Would I spiral or would I keep going? My reaction would eventually be strength. I would be strong...I would swim. I was tired of being weak and letting life beat me. So, in the midst of one of the hardest moments of my life I decided to endure and continue swimming.
The secret is that we're always in the midst of an ocean and if you stop paddling you're going to drown. If you give up, you're going to die. It's something you have to teach yourself to do and it's something that you have to heavily rely on Christ for. Don't just swim for yourself, swim for the sake of those around you and for the sake of all the people that are counting on you to keep going. Swim for each moment and the love you can find in them. Swim for true beauty among fleeting imitations. Life is often cruel and cruel are those who are reaped from its harvest, but let love keep you floating. Let God give you understanding. Let strength and honesty and compassion keep you going. Be driven by your pain to do better, don't be another person drowning in their own pity. Everything will still be there. The tide will change, the waves will crash, the shore will seem unattainable, but you have to keep going. You have to keep going. You have to keep swimming.