30 While 30: Surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses …

No list update today.  Just want to jump to a story that I want to share with you all today.  For those counting, it’s day #42.

Anyways, back on topic.

I love my work.  I really do.  The thing about it is, I love more the fact that I get paid to do something that I am built for.  I get to share in the joy, sadness, hardship, growth, and reconciliation of people looking to find help with some of life’s hardest challenges.

Let me share with you a story.  This is a hypothetical story about one girl, or many girls.  It’s a story about a 14 year old or a 21 year old.  You pick.  It doesn’t really matter, but let’s pretend for a minute.  Close your eyes and imagine if these things were part of your life story:

You barely know your biological father.  What you do know is a rumor that your existence was an “accident” of your then teenage mother, and that while everyone tells you that you are a miracle, you wonder if at times if your mother’s life would have been like if you hadn’t ever come around.

You are young, but you are sexually active.  The physical contact leaves you confused about many things: your worth as a person, what love really means, and whether people can be trusted.

You are depressed.  So depressed that your primary coping mechanism, the thing that you do to make sure you can feel anything that is real, is cut yourself.  You cut yourself in places at times that people can see (because you are desperate for someone to ask about you) and in places that they can’t (because you’re embarrased at the need to satisfy this feeling).

You’ve been so down that you’ve contemplated ending it all.  Luckily, you did let someone know, and you spent time in a hospital to keep you safe for a few days.  You take medicine to help you manage anxiety and significant mood swings.

Despite all this, you’ve been invited to a local church by a friend.

You’ve walked the aisle and you’ve made a decision.

And while you really don’t understand all of this stuff, you still wake up.

Each day.

In an attempt to reverse a life of hurt, disappointment, betrayal, and loneliness, you wake up.

You wake up because at some level you know that there is some hope in the new day, though hope still feels like something people talk about, not neccessarily something that is real for you …. yet.

In the book of Hebrews, the author writes at the opening of Chapter 12:

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

The entire previous chapter, the writer shares the history of the Jewish faith.  A history of a people faced with adversity after adversity, and yet, the sun still rose, a new day came, and with it a new opportunity to decide which direction to head:

Towards hope, or towards despair.

When contemplating the story of that young lady, and the stories shared by the writer of Hebrews, I am confronted with an overwhelming sense of possibility.  That despite my situation, despite what problems I face, despite my own history, I am surrounded by a cloud of witnesses …

A cloud of fellow followers that conquer each day the largest things – solving world hunger, creating new innovations … or the smallest …. getting out of bed to see what the day has to offer.

If that young lady can do it … what is stopping me?

….What is stopping you?

Because at it’s heart, you and I are not alone in whatever comes our way.

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