Once I was sitting with a little girl whose father was busy at work. I was the lowly assistant, so the little girl sat on the floor by my feet coloring until she got bored. She walked over to me, and pointed at my freckles.
“What are these things?”
“They’re my freckles!” I said in an excited voice. “My mom always told me they were angel kisses.”
“Angel kisses?” She asked. She ran her little finger down my arm, tracking these dots which seemed to have no distinct formation. There was a long pause. She was clearly considering something. And then she found her words:
“I hope an angel never kisses me.”
Now, this child is completely precious, meant absolutely no harm and honestly had no idea what she actually said, but it got me thinking: How many of us look at other people and think, “I hope that never happens to me,” “I hope that is never a part of my life,” “I hope I never have to live with that”?
I think we can all say we’ve been there, and thought those not-so-feel-good thoughts. Nobody ever wishes for cancer or a life-threatening, life-altering illness or injury. Nobody ever wishes for the significant other who cheats, or the child who commits a terrible, harmful act. Nobody ever wishes for suffering or for things to go tragically wrong.
In moments of pure devastation, I have seen people rise. In moments where I have been flat out guilty of thinking, “I hope that never happens to me,” I have seen people flourish. That’s the thing about pity — those feelings of sadness and sorrow that I’m placing onto someone else, are actually only shaping my world view.
For this little girl, the worst-case scenario was getting kissed by an angel, which would inevitably leave little orange dots on her skin. I’ve come to realize that these little dots — these "worst-case scenarios" — are moments where so much collected strength resides.
So here’s my worst case scenario story. It was around third grade when I noticed I could no longer see the board my teacher was writing on. I would fake sick and my mother would come pick me up from school. Crisis averted. Until tomorrow.
I realized I still couldn’t see the board. I would go home at night and pray really, really hard, and I mean really, really hard for this...whatever it was...to go away. I’d pray, and then (just for insurance purposes) I would touch my eyes so that the prayer would “sink in” and “be applied” to the correct location.
Eventually, I was dragged into the eye doctor and I received the verdict: I was extremely nearsighted. To top it all off, the entirely-too-serious ophthalmologist said, “And it’s going to get worse.”
So at this very young age, I became obsessed with the idea that I was going blind. This fact alone was devastating. And each dreaded year I went to the eye doctor only to discover my vision was, as predicted, getting worse right on schedule. My prayers were not working. I had literally no control over the situation, and my fear and grief grew stronger every day.
The fear of the unknown-slash-inevitable becomes locked into the foundation of your personality. While it may have rocked your soul to its core, it transforms your core into a strong foundation on which you continue to build your life upon.
You make an active and brave decision to move forward, to not let fear control you, to live to the extreme, to embrace everything, to do what you love. And that right there is beautiful.
I wake up every single day thankful for what I’ve been granted for just this moment of just this day.
In this lifetime, we are handed tough situations, bad circumstances, terrible timing, awful realizations, terminal diagnoses, unfortunate accidents, horrendous injustices. And the list goes on.
Bad things do, in fact, happen to wonderful people every day. What makes our world press on are the tiny collections of strength we have within us and within our circle of supporters. This strength is unstoppable, insurmountable and precious. It is the undertone that drives our lives during times of darkness, and we all have it.
Figuring out who I am required me to accept my fears in a real way. I couldn’t just admit they are there, I had to actually deal with them. No more pity for myself or for others, because I had found my strength.
I’m always reminded about my strength and my supporters when I look at my angel kisses (freckles). They are a collection of little dots, which may be a worse case scenario to that little girl or others, but they are my reminders of all of the love and strength out there. Little reminders of everyone actively working to overcome the seemingly unconquerable.