When I was about twelve years old, I went to the beach with my family. I loved playing in the ocean. I had no fear of it. I especially loved finding sand dollars! It was an amazing little gift from nature to find them. One day, I ran headlong into the ocean water, jumping waves as I ran and managed to catch my foot just right on the edge of a sand dollar. It ripped a gash in my big toe that kept me out of the water for the rest of the trip. Where I came from, you only saw a doctor if something was really bad so I doctored it myself, carefully bandaging it every day. It eventually healed, leaving a scar as a reminder.
A year or so later, we returned to the ocean. You have no doubt heard stories of jellyfish at the beach. Most everyone knows someone that has gotten badly burned stepping on one. After the sand dollar incident, I was a bit more cautious as I waded into the water. Not quite so fearless anymore. I slowly made my way into the water. My steps were timid; I was in no hurry to step on another sand dollar. I made it out to where the water was about mid-thigh deep and stopped to look around at the people surrounding me. Kids were playing and laughing. The sun was shining. It was perfect.
A moment later I felt something brush against my leg. I looked down and there was the biggest jellyfish I had ever seen floating next to me. Most people would back up and keep watching this beautiful creature. I, however, turned and ran for the shore (as much as one can run in the ocean). Once I reached solid ground, I shot up the beach wailing like a screaming mimi. You would have thought I had seen a shark with all that drama. I unfortunately did not go back in the water on that trip.
During any future trips to the beach, I stayed safely at the edge of the water, content with only getting my feet wet. I stuck to seeking shells and in turn robbed myself of the enjoyment of the ocean. I had the opportunity to step back and observe something beautiful, but because I feared being hurt I turned and ran, keeping a safe distance between me and the water I had so dearly loved.
How often does that happened in life? How often has a person or experience that we love injured us in some way? When that happens, we have a choice. We can close over and allow scars to bind us and rob us of any love and joy to come, or we can remain open and vulnerable, still able to receive love from others. I no longer want to live life hiding behind scars. I want to remain open to life and all it has to offer. Yes, even open to pain, because pain has taught me a great deal in this life. It has taught me compassion, love, grace and gratitude. It has taught me about authenticity, that the pain of living my life hiding my truth is much more painful that any pain that rejection will bring.
Love. Joy. Pain. Heartache. These are all part of life. If we hide from life out of fear, we protect ourselves from the bad stuff but we also rob ourselves of the good stuff. And I want the good stuff. It adds sweetness to life and makes it worth living. It is a salve to the soul in times of pain.
The world needs light and love more than ever before. So open up. Welcome love in. Take the risk. Otherwise you are simply existing, and that would be the saddest story of all.