It's not the fifth Thursday, but I'm giving you an update on my own dream chasing because I'm too excited to wait. By the end of today, I hope to complete the second revision on Between Shadow and Light and start submitting it to beta readers! This is huge. Like on-the-verge-of-dreams-coming-true huge. Not only that, but the feedback I've already received has been extremely good. I'm not going to lie - I've been quite teary-eyed lately. And in the best way possible. My poor kids don't seem to understand that mommy is crying because she's so very, very happy.
[pauses to wipe yet another tear from my eye] If all goes well, I should have my manuscript completely done and ready for submission by May. Just in time for LDStorymakers Conference. Hooray!
This notebook and I have been through a lot in the past year.
As I near the end of this book, I find myself feeling somewhat nostalgic. This is the first book I've seen through to the end. I've become close to my characters - felt their pain, cheered their victories, and mourned their losses. My story's theme of forgiveness resonates deep within my soul because, once upon a time, it was my own life story's theme.
There was a time in my life where I was known for my ability to hold a grudge. It didn't take much to set it off. I wish I could blame it on hormones, ignorance, or poor influences, but I'm now a firm believer in taking responsibility for my own actions. I won't mince words. I held those grudges simply because I chose not to forgive.
For years, I held onto the resentment and anger. It influenced everything in my life. My self-esteem plummeted. Many days were spent in seclusion, not entirely by choice. My poor attitude drove others away. I was, in essence, miserable.
Forgiveness didn't come easily for me. It wasn't until I was on the receiving end of a relentless grudge such as the ones I held that my eyes were opened and I saw the error of my ways. The hate directed my way nearly destroyed me and I realized something needed to change.
Once I picked up the shattered pieces of my heart, I began the painstaking process of rebuilding myself. It was a difficult and painful process, but I no longer wanted to be the person I had become. In fact, I came to the startling realization that I hated who I was.
I sat down and had an honest conversation with myself, listing the qualities I wanted to develop, painting a picture of the person I wanted to be. The girl in the mirror couldn't have been more different than the one I envisioned.
Gradually, step by step, I changed. I purged the darkness from my soul and forgave those who had, in my own mind, wronged me. I focused on the beautiful, the wonderful, and my blessings. I chose to see the good in people rather than the bad and as I did so, I began to see more beauty than I ever believed possible.
There are scientific studies proving the power of forgiveness, how it can change the very essence of who you are. My life proved just how true those studies were. The depression that loomed over me had nearly dissipated. But it wasn't enough. I still had a deeply embedded self-loathing. How could I consider myself a good person when I had felt and thought such horrible things?
Most days, I was fine. Better than fine. Life was on the upswing and things were better than ever. I considered myself happy, for the most part.
But there were days when I was overwhelmed with grief over the things I had said and done. I had forgiven others, but I just could not forgive myself. Logically, it made sense to let it all go and start over, but emotionally? The heart is harder to change than the mind.
It wasn't until I stumbled across a little trick that I was finally able to release the last of the stumbling blocks that were holding me back. Whenever I felt an episode of self-loathing coming on, one that reminded me of the many things I had done wrong, I closed my eyes and said a simple prayer - not only to God, but to myself.
At first, I was saying it several times a day. As I was driving, when I was reading, at church, at home, in the store. It sneaked up on me at the most inconvenient times. I kept it up, fighting through the shame.
As time went on, I found myself saying it less and less. Not only that, but my spirit felt lighter. Freer. My outlook on life improved and I smiled and laughed easier and more often.
And as the final vestiges of darkness lifted, I discovered - much to my delight - that the girl in the mirror was someone I could finally be proud of. Someone I wanted to be.
Someone I loved.
I don't remember the last time I had to say it. Days? Weeks? Maybe even months now? It doesn't matter anymore. I no longer need the reminder.
Forgiveness was the final weapon I needed in my dragon-slaying arsenal. It's worth far eclipses any other weapon I wield. Without the darkness of resentment and hate pressing down on me, I have the courage to chase my dreams and become the person I've always dreamed of being. I can see the path before me and it is bright and glorious.
I will continue to make mistakes. I'm far from perfect. There's still a long way for me to go until I reach that state. But I no longer allow my imperfections to bar my path.
I am strong. I am confident. I am worthy and capable of great and amazing things and I prove that every single day.
That is indeed my sword. Thanks to Handyman Husband, of course.
I am a dream-chasing dragon-slayer who will soon see my biggest dream come true.
All because I had the courage to forgive.
"Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness. Some hold grudges for a lifetime, unaware that courageously forgiving those who have wronged us is wholesome and therapeutic." - James E. Faust
Stay tuned for next Thursday - it's another Capsule Cooking post! This time it's the Chicken Un-Casserole. Minimal prep, amazing results. Perfect for school nights. My test kitchens are already hard at work on their variations. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. You don't want to miss it!