So…2015 will soon come to a close. As I look forward to a new year, I often reflect on the past 12 months to consider what I have learned, how I have grown.
I always thought I knew what unconditional love was, and then I had Samuel. There is absolutely no condition placed on my love for him; it is a constant, abiding love. It is a nearly tangible emotion that says every second of every day, “I would lay down my life for you.”
I know now that the abundant love I have for this child is only a small reflection of how God loves you and me. It is a humbling truth.
To my extreme delight and fascination, Samuel has recently confronted a challenge brand new to his little-boy repertoire: walking. He is highly committed to mastering this skill. Simply standing is its own reward; he gets to view the world from an elevated perspective. Achieving equilibrium can be dicey, but nothing is quite as adventurous as taking that first, then second step. Every possible emotion is displayed on his little face—joy, trepidation, curiosity, expectation.
Naturally, David and I, as well as his older siblings, provide the enormous encouragement he both desires and deserves.
Walking often proves a tough business, so more times than not, a fall is inevitable; there have been scrapes, bruises, and the occasional bloody lip, but this fazes him not in the least. He gets right back up and gives ambulation another shot, usually without blinking an eye, and sometimes even with a big smile on his face.
How much is my son’s desire and difficulty with walking similar to our journey in recovery? Consider… we also started down on the ground, be it in a pit of depression, the bottom of a bottle, with heads in a toilet or consumed with very low or high numbers on a bathroom scale. But, we got clean and sober, or said a final goodbye to any number of things: an eating disorder, addictive drugs, self injury or the relentless pain of trauma.
With help, we stood up and also noticed that the world looked different from this unimpaired perspective. Through unconditional love, we found the courage to stand strong when we faltered.
Finding new balance, we took a tentative step in this new reality, then we took another. We were similarly fearful, yet filled with anticipation as to what this new journey might bring. Not unlike a child, we took our lumps along the way, maybe even returned to the ground for a time, but just like Samuel, we got back up and started over.
My son’s goal is fairly simplistic: he wants to go from point A to point B on his own two feet. Although adult issues are far more complex, at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want? We want to be strong, competent, and capable of managing everyday life. We want to experience the world on our own two feet. We want to be able to take in the help and love that surrounds us in order to grow.
Learning to walk and walking out recovery are only different in one regard. For Samuel, those crawling days will soon be gone; he will be an official member of the walking world in no time. In fact, he will ultimately retain no memory of the months spent on “all fours.”
But, our memories will remain clear and that is a true blessing. Only by remembering where we have been can we fully appreciate where we are today. Each one of us has moved from A, a place of darkness, pain, loneliness and death, to B, a life of potential, health, freedom and abundance.
So…as 2016 unfolds, respect the past, live in the present, and know that the future is full of promise and possibility. And most importantly, be aware of just how much you are loved — without condition.