I walked up those stairs and prepared myself for the celebration of Mass. As I entered the chapel, I was immediately taken back in time. It didn’t even take a second to realize that I was back in the place where I first found myself.
We were there at that altar, serving for the music ministry. I was sixteen years old. And I swear to you, my life had just begun. I didn’t realize we were here again, five years later in the very same place where I found love. In every sense of the word.
There’s something about “going back.” About coming back to the beginning. There’s something about knowing where you’re coming from so that when you’re back there again, you discover the miracles you were unable to see along the way. Everything makes sense. Who knew better than the great lover of my soul?
There I was, at 21. It’s not much, but I don’t want to undermine the past five years either. At the sight of that altar, feelings of joy and even pain flooded my heart. It was as if the beginning of it all had become one with the present-moment. You see, I began actively serving the ministry at sixteen. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the lifestyle of a missionary. I wanted to travel and make families with strangers. I wanted to tell everyone of the glory of God and how our lives are just that much fuller when lived in His way, truth, and life. Oh, the freedom we have in Him — not chained by the conditions of this world nor by our attachments to the temporal things of life.
I stood in the back of the room amazed by all the flowers I’ve watched and blossomed with for the past 7 years of my life. And with each and every person, I was taken back to my beginnings with them. I watched my babies get up on stage to deliver powerful words of poetry. I watched their ideas come to life as they passionately danced, sang, and acted their hearts away. I stood there in the back unable to stop tears of amazement, of blessedness.
I remembered being strangers with them. I remembered the joy of seeing their lives have color because they chose to shine and be their own individuals. But with that, I also remembered those nights when I didn’t know what words to say to them to make them cling to hope, to life, and to God. I remembered their moments of despair, their moments of trials. I remembered their heartbrokenness and my helplessness. To see them time after time fight to be better — these few moments are what I live for. The miracle, the endless possibility, the hope that we’re moving closer to the best version of ourselves. I will spend many nights in tears facing my own fears if that’s what it takes to have moments like that define my existence.
Their fragile petals that decided to open up again to receive both rain and sun from above after everything illustrated to me what it means to be courageous. It isn’t in the amount of risks we take or in their magnitude that we find ourselves on the verge of bravery. It’s in fighting every single day for what we believe in. It’s in having something to believe in. To choose to live a life worth dying for. It’s not in fighting or ridding ourselves of the heartaches, but in embracing them. Courage is to faceboth our fears and greatness. Courage is to hope when all is hopeless, to see in the darkness, and to be a witness of love and mercy when we have become victims of pain and fear.
For this, I thank each and everyone of you for choosing to live bravely. I thank each and everyone of you for saving me — at 16 and 21. I am extremely proud, inspired, and can only imagine how your mothers feel if I’m feeling like this.
Sometimes, we fail to see the light we bear for each other and so we fail to endure the burning. A man who stops his journey will never get to his destiny. A man who never endures the burning will fail to bear his light.
Be brave simply because it would be unfitting of you to be otherwise. Love your heart and take courage.