When I was 15 I thought I knew it all. I had a list of things I’d like to accomplish and I knew exactly how my life would turn out because I’d make it happen. It’s a funny thing, youth’s naivety.
I just turned 26. I haven’t gotten married, or had twins or even a dog, I haven’t even graduated college yet so I obviously don’t have my own practice. I have, however, traveled part of the world, I’ve met amazing inspiring people, I’ve learned about new cultures, and I’ve seen things I never knew existed. I’ve been to the most fantastic places ever and also to some of saddest. I’ve learned how to cook and how to humbly ask for help when I need – still a work in progress. I have felt like giving up again and time again, I have gone further than I thought I could, I’ve made myself proud, and I’ve felt disappointed in myself in ways I can’t describe. I’ve grown and I’ve been changed and touched by the beautiful people that came along one way or another.
I have had my heart stolen by incredible people I’ve met who are resilient and joyful under really harsh circumstances. I have not learned how to be strong, but I’ve learned that I need to appreciate vulnerability and find peace in my weakness – for He has made me strong in it. I have changed my mind a million times and then once more and I have held on to the principles I’ve loved in a much deeper way than ever before.
I’ve had to submit myself to people and circumstances. Those were the hardest and most gratifying times in this journey so far. I’ve found home at home – what a grace! and I’ve made home in people’s hearts. I’ve learned new dance moves, new quotes, new subjects, new virtues and new bad habits too. I’ve cried seeing little children being mistreated and I’ve felt the greatest joy just watching families at the park. I’ve lost and found myself in people and situations and I’ve been made new. I’ve felt desperate, immature, unprepared and upset but I’ve also seen how I can make a difference if I open up and love freely. I’ve felt God’s touch everywhere and in ways I never thought I could experience. I’ve climbed a volcano when I thought I couldn’t hike a mile, and I’ve jumped from the edge metaphorically and literally.
I’ve felt undeserving pretty much every single day, and I’ve also felt frustrated for going such a different path from what I had planned, in spite of all the wonders that came with it. I guess what I’m trying to say is that life is indeed mostly what you make of it, but it is never a list and it is never defined by big accomplishments and milestones. Life is here and now. Life is everyday and our worth isn’t in what we make of it, in spite of making something out of life being really important. Our worth is in ourselves. In who we are deep down. In how we treat others and how we treat ourselves and above all, our worth is in God’s unfailing love.
The daily nothings are the most precious times, if you ask me. Those days I watched a movie at home with friends or those days I went to the park to read a book, or the days I peed myself laughing at my mom’s jokes, or even the days I spent talking business with my dad even though I’m clueless on the matter. The days I got bored in traffic, and the days I got to class late. The quick phone calls on my birthday, the 100th attempt to get a decent picture with my friends, my family at the airport welcoming me in such a relentlessly loving way, the little notes or the handmade gifts, those are the ones I truly treasure.
Of course living it up all over and crossing things off my life list was exciting. Of course not getting to live my 15-year-old self’s list can be frustrating at times, but what I’m slowly learning at the old age of 26 is that what I get to experience pours into me but doesn’t define me, and real life is as much out there as it is here. However, waiting for it to start when and if won’t make it satisfying. Satisfaction and gratitude must be found and made where you are. Now. Today. Because, as cliché as it sounds, that’s what we truly have.
If I could tell my 15-year-old self something it’d be this: don’t freak out too often, it’ll get resolved and you’ll avoid some wrinkles. Learn to trust in yourself and in God as soon as you can, because you’ll need that when it gets challenging. Be patient with your parents because sooner or later you will find a lot of them in yourself. Love yourself, and love others out of gratitude. And never let your fears keep you from getting where your faith can take you, but remember to appreciate the boring everyday life, because those are the moments you’ll miss the most if you miss them.
by Liciane Alves.
I believe life can be beautiful. I believe in freedom and in an ultimate truth. I believe in humans – sometimes more, sometimes less; nevertheless, I do. I also believe in relativity – in as many senses as you can come up with. Trust me, it’s not contradictory. And above all, I believe in Love, and He’s rescued me and made me whole. Taking pictures helps me remember things I don’t wanna forget and watching the ocean helps me forget things I don’t wanna remember.
I’m yet to understand grace and I think that’s the word that defines life.