Last night, my roommate found me on the floor of our home going through boxes. Piles of birthday cards lined the floor. Notes and letters I have saved for years.
Some had less significance—the sender merely signed their name following a manufactured message. Some letters were painful—the memory of past loves I hadn’t heard from in years. Other mail made me smile—like Lora’s letters from the field in Utah, Joel’s letters from South Sudan, or Kristin’s updates from nursing school in Virginia. I found little homemade coupons from my mother, redeemable for a dinner out or fishing on the lake. Vivid and bittersweet were these memories worth embracing.
My roommate sat on the floor next to me bringing her own boxes with her. We took turns reading aloud from our piles. We sighed at the touching, encouraging words from our relatives, old friends, and mentors. We laughed at the inside jokes and wild stories. We cried tears of joy and regret before pouring ourselves a cup of hot tea and going back to our boxes.
Those vibrant, young girls full of hope and dreams seemed like different people than the ones sitting on the floor. Where had those girls of adventure gone? Why was their world so gray and unfeeling? What had stolen their light?
My roommate and I made a pact—to rebuild the parts of ourselves we loved and had forgotten. We would clean the cobwebs off of our indifferent hearts and reach for the ecstasy life had once brought us. We would seize new possibilities to become the people we always wanted to be. We would be hard workers, truth-tellers, risk-takers, day-dreamers, friendly neighbors, intentional forgivers, and thankful spirits.
But to be those people, we had to start by letting go.
I needed to let go of the pain and the clutter of my past—the icky, filthy muck that was building up inside of me. While I believe it’s good to have memories, it’s a tragic thing to stay stuck in what was or what could have been. That’s how a heart stays so fragile. It’s like ripping a bandage off a fresh wound. No healing can be done that way.
I said goodbye to the old love letters. To the agonizing reminders of missed opportunities and broken friendships. I made space for new stories and new people. I told myself that it was okay to love again and let my heart heal. I didn’t have to try and be smarter, funnier, or more beautiful than everyone else. I just had to believe in love at all costs, in the goodness of others, and in a stronger me. I had to dare to have a voice that is worth being heard. To stand up for humanity and be the feet of Jesus on this earth.
After cleaning out my boxes I felt a weight lifted from my chest. I was free and forgiven by the grace of God all over again. I was inspired to write, practice yoga, dance, and pursue college courses. My roommate helped remind me that it is never too late to be the person God created me to be, the person my spirit longed to become.
So, to all of you who yearn for a second chance, today is your moment. This life you have been waiting for is happening now. It’s valuable, powerful, and exploding with color. It’s calling you to tell a new narrative. Don’t beat yourself up for what might have been because you were given today. Use your neglected imagination and create something new.