Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the beginning. This old commandment – to love one another – is the same message you have heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.
– 1 John 2: 7-8
When I began writing this article a couple of weeks ago, I began by praising God in a way so lavish, that it was fanatical. I began this way, because I knew that I wanted my last post in the series to be a testament to His love, and His grace in my life.
You see, I started this series knowing only that I had a story to tell. Like a poem, it began with a lump in my throat. A part of that means that I knew I wanted to talk about my manic episode, a part of that means that I knew it would involve my fears and emotions, and a part of that means that I had this conclusion in mind. So the challenge of “The Honest Truth,” was never one of content, it was always one of delivery.
I wanted to rediscover my voice at full volume. To loosen my restraints and see what I would say. For this is the story of the man in the straitjacket; and I needed to let it flow out of me. “From heart to pen,” – as one of my good friends would say.
This meant putting my anxiety, my frustration, and even my shame, on the table. All up for scrutiny. Because this is the challenge of Love: You put all your cards on the table, you take a good look at what they are, and you accept them. The good with the bad, the gubad with the ugly… And you love that gubugly person for who they are…
But until I saw that I was not treating myself with love – with the fullness of God’s unconditional love – I could not comprehend my situation. I was stuck in a cycle of explanations, and justifications, and pleas… seeking a complex solution, to a very simple problem.
I was heartbroken, and I did not know how to love myself again. I could not recognise the man in the straitjacket: this shadow of my former self. So sad and lonely. No! It couldn’t be! It mustn’t be! Something was very wrong with that picture; at least that was what I thought… I was in denial.
Yet as soon as I began to accept the wounded me, to love him without the condition that he be better than this; to show him God’s unconditional love, I found peace. I found the kind of peace that allowed me to apologise to Urania, and thank her for her time; I found freedom – the kind of freedom that allows me to share this very personal story with you; and I found truth.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
– Phillipians 4: 8
I have written this series as a testimony, and an example to those who find themselves in similar struggles; as a challenge to myself and others, who need to breakthrough similar fears; and as a reminder to my future self, of the standard to which I aim to keep myself accountable.
Today, I thank God for opening my eyes in the midst of my malcontent. I praise His holy name for the way he has used this experience to change me. For I have come to love this awkward, quirky, cautious me; and I pray that in the years to come, as I learn and grow, I will always remember the value of, the honest truth.