“We are alive only to the degree to which we are willing to be annihilated. Our next life will always cost us this one. If we are truly alive, we are constantly losing who we just were, what we just built, what we just believed, what we just knew to be true… I cannot hold too tightly to any riverbank. I must let go of the shore in order to travel deeper and see farther. Again and again, and then again. Until the final death and rebirth. Right up until then.” – Glennon Doyle
I have died four times in my life thus far. Each time a little less painful than the last. The cost always greater than expected and the reward always better than imagined. Never the death itself the most painful as much as the reason for it: decisions I never should have had to make, behavior I should not have had to take a stand against, people who should have been there to help resurrect me and weren’t, the ones who should have been celebrating with me on the other side but chose to criticize and accuse me instead.
I have died four times and I suspect I might still have to die a little more. Each time a moment of truth; a finale of sorts, the end of trying so hard, the end of cooperating and submitting and negotiating and bargaining. Those moments that come so rarely for peacekeepers, those moments where standing up and speaking out is worth losing everything for, because if you don’t, you will lose your own self.
I have died four times in my life, four big times and lots of little times. Each time my mind getting a little stronger, my voice getting a little louder, and my boundaries getting a little clearer.
I have died four times, each time losing the thing I wanted to keep the most, in order to find the thing that mattered more than the world itself.
I have died four times; losing and regaining my identities and beliefs, leaving harmful relationships, losing several communities and finding new ones, being alone sometimes, drawing lines in the sand.
I have died four times. Each time leaving its own scar, each time healing a little better.
Age 19, bewildered and alone; excommunicated from my family’s church, the only community I had ever known. It’s so easy to fall from grace.
Age 25, quitting my dream job and walking away from the ministry that saved me and believed in me through my darkest days. Years spent there were the best of my life but the community wouldn’t grow with me. I was too progressive. Apparently their love had a limit.
Age 26, trying to appear more confident than I felt entering the divorce attorney’s office. I made my final decision, no turning back now. Leaving the man I had built my life around who had no room for me in his anymore. The man whose arms I had fallen into because he accepted me when the church didn’t.
Age 29, my heart, my world, taken from me in an instant with a coroner’s knock. Grieving the love of my life was infinitely worse than any previous trauma – my soul ripped in two. Loving him for even a day was worth the heart-stopping pain of missing him for a lifetime. The risk of love is a hill I’m willing to die on any day. But the death I’m talking about here isn’t my soulmate’s, it is my own. Losing the part of me that died with him was easier to accept than losing him. Losing my grip on the last shreds of a traditional faith expression would have been unexpected at one point but made sense now. Losing more of me was inevitable, I just never could have imagined the catalyst; nor would I have ever wanted to.
I am a new person now. Not all for the better, but ultimately being renewed every time I rise again, each time proving I am alive.
I have died four times, and never have regretted the hill I chose to die on.
“No, you won’t treat me that way.”
“Absolutely not – you will not control me.”
“You will not reduce me, shrink me down, or keep me quiet.”
“I refuse to be shamed. I renounce that narrative.”
“I utterly reject those lies, that watered-down version of reality, the downplaying of what I went through, the narrowing of my future.”
“That is not the God I know. That is not the God I will follow.”
“This belief used to define me, but I’m getting acquainted with the new me now.”
“You will not capitalize on my grief, wielding it against me, attempting to drag me back into what I escaped. I do not give you that power”.
“Grief has turned my life turned upside down, but all you see is vulnerability. All I am to you is a conversion opportunity. Nope. That stops right here.”
“I’m building a boundary line between you and me. I won’t let you touch me with your shallow and offensive theology.”
“The life I’ve made is good. I am good. I know who I am. I know what I believe.”
“These are my decisions and values. These are the things I am willing to die for.”
I have died four times and each time have found it is not until I know what I’m willing to die for that I truly know what I’m made to live for