|360 Degrees of Transformation||
This past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with a few people who I went to school with. I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage years with these people. The joy I felt at seeing them was great. I loved to hear about their lives and their families. Over the rest of the weekend, I reflected on my past, and who I am today, 13 years after high school. Leah Potter, the funny, smart, serious-thinking, and talented girl disappeared for ten-plus years. That is a long time to lose someone.
She didn't just lose her way. She was disappeared by those who she trusted. Physically and emotionally abused by the ones she loved. She got scared, and hid. Cowering to protect herself under a constant barrage of anger, maliciousness, and lies. What was left was a silent girl hiding in a broken shell.
It took awhile for her to start to come out of the shell, to start to speak without fear of retribution. And many times she turned back and hid. Even now, there are setbacks. There are experiences that leave her with a handful of bricks, building the wall to protect herself from those who broke her trust...again. But she always had a small hint that I was in there. A tiny bright dot, never disappearing altogether.
The more this person becomes me again, the more I am able to nurture and protect this girl. Today, I am stronger than I ever was. I don't believe the lies that were poured into my head, sinking heavy and black on my heart. Everyday is an experience that I learn from. Either its an awesome day full of pure joy or it's a tough day that I fight like hell to survive. In each case, I can thank God for His blessings and strength, and for providing a way back to who He created me to be.
I still am not completely back. I know there is more ahead of me. Dreams that disappeared with who I was have resurfaced. Passion for the things that ignite my soul are beginning to flare up again. I still have remnants of those experiences that haunt me. Little things that wouldn't bother someone else send my heart racing and paralyzing thoughts ricocheting around my brain.
But my voice is back. My passion is lighting up. My dreams are clear ahead of me. God hasn't promised me smooth sailing, but He has promised to be with me 100% and all the way. We only get one chance at this life. I lost over ten years of my life. I don't intend on missing out on any more.
Last week at the pool, a grumpy old man yelled at Eliska. We were lap swimming in a lane, and of course, she is still getting the hang of it. We were taking up one lane, but there were other spaces in other lanes available, plus a whole other lane was empty. This man purposely got into our lane, swam over to Eliska, and yelled at her that the lanes weren't for playing. Then he swam off down the lane.
I wasn't nearby, and I'm not sure what I would have done. I wanted to punch his face. The point is that he didn't come to change things, otherwise he would have spoken to me. He came with the intention of causing a problem. Eliska cried. She was scared. In that vulnerable moment, rather than stay and pursue the matter, we moved over to the open lane on the end. I asked God to let us have a great day despite that, and to help us to let it go.
Fast forward to this week. Today, Eliska and I were again in the pool, doing the same thing. Lap swimming. I heard someone calling me. I looked up, and the same man was in the lane next to me, firmly scolding me, informing me that the lanes were for swimming, not playing. I tried to explain that she wasn't playing, and that if someone needed the lane, she would move over. He talked right over the top of me. I said, "You yelled at my daughter last week. Don't you ever do that again." Then Eliska and I swam off. I looked back, and he was complaining to the life guard. I was very proud of myself in that moment, because instead of internalizing a white hot anger towards this man, I spoke up and left it behind. I stood firm, and I did not run. My daughter got to see me do that!
Later I spoke to the life guard, and asked if there was going to be a problem. She said he was a grumpy old man, who had been going to the pool for twenty years, and if he became a problem, she could kick him out.
Side note: I love this life guard. She has been amazing, speaking so positively to Eliska, making a point of interacting with her.
As I was finishing my laps, I thought about what I wanted to teach to my kids. What mark did I want to make on their life? I want my kids to be tough. I don't want them to just lay there when adversity knocks them down. I want them to be kind, but not a doormat. I want them to know and understand the value they have. I want a life where they are healthy, bold, loving, and compassionate. Where they can see where they come from, and dream of where they are going. Where they demand the best of themselves and for themselves.
These are the things I have to teach them. No one else will do it. And they will learn by seeing me do it. Eliska learned today not to cower in fear, and that she is not wrong in this situation. She learned that it is okay to speak up for herself, and that if the other party isn't interested in working out the situation, then she can turn around and walk away. Eliska learned to love herself today. This is more valuable than diamonds. For Eliska, she learned she was WORTH standing up for.
I have come a long way. I know my value. And I know my children's values. I WILL do my absolute best to teach them the important things of life, the things not of this world. This is the mark I will make on them, the legacy I will teach to them. I was Eliska's champion today. What a feeling!
We might be in different places, but all of us are on a journey.
Leah's Life Verses