Today, To Write Love on Her Arms celebrates its sixth year of spreading the message of hope, faith, love, and rescue. The organization means the world to me -- for reasons involving family members who have struggled with Depression, for reasons involving friends who have battled and dealt with their own personal demons, and for reasons personal to myself. Today, I write love on my arms and wear TWLOHA to remind myself that there is so much to be hopeful for, and that I am not alone -- that no one is ever alone.
There's a blog post that founder Jamie Tworkowski wrote in 2007 that I've shared before, and would like to share again. It's a post that I've read and re-read countless times. It speaks volumes of what TWLOHA is all about, and what we should all try to remember in our daily lives. No one is perfect and pain is inevitable, but if we stick together, things will be all right. You are important, and your story is important -- don't ever forget that.
My friend Byron says that life is hard for most people, most of the time. He is a very smart guy.
I suppose that hope suggests a need, and it suggests that something has not yet ended. To have hope is to believe for change, to believe for a better ending. I have been thinking a lot about hope because I have reminded lately that I am a person in need of hope.
I believe that pain is universal, which is to say that all of us can relate to pain. We break and don't fix easy. We break in different ways, at different times, for different reasons. We lose things. We get stuck in moments. We are slow to forgive, slow to change, slow to ask for help. We are slow to truly love people.
It is easy to talk about love. Easy to write blogs about it, easy to talk about it on stages. Love, in that setting, is an idea, and ideas make for great conversations - inspiring even. It is another thing entirely to love people. I suppose it's because ideas are more comfortable than actions. It is a much more challenging gig to be a person who loves other people.
Love is a choice. It is an action. It looks like this:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
It is tempting to write these things as if I always have it all together, as if I am a person without need, a person who cares about pain but is not affected by it. The truth is that I am a person in need, a broken person, a person who fails, often. I have a lot to learn. I have a long way to go.
The last few weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. It has little to do with the tour. The shows, the bands, the crowds, the conversations – all of that is great. The issues are personal and I suppose I'm writing just to say that we're the same, and to share some things I'm learning.
Pain seems to scream. It asks for all of our attention. Pain suggests that we are only broken, that we are only all the things in us that ache. Certainly, we are responsible for our actions but "forgiveness" is a beautiful word. "Change" is a beautiful possibility. "Hope" and "rescue" are important words.
We are a people in need. We need so many different things: Friendship, love, conversation, medicine, encouragement, wisdom, hope. Whatever is broken, whatever your needs are, it's okay to be honest about those things. It's beyond okay, it is essential. Your heart, your life, your mind, these things are golden, priceless. Please be careful with them. And your friends, your family, the people you love, they are golden too. Please be careful with them. Consider your words and actions, the way they affect people.
We've been given dreams and gifts and talents and ideas, and there are people in our lives that we are called to love. Pain would like nothing more than to destroy all of it.
Each of us will have to fight for the things we call important - the things we hope for, the people we love. It will be a different sort of fight, one of patience and prayers, actions and choices and change. It will be a surgery of sorts, and we will need other people to go with us. It may sound difficult but there is much to be hopeful for.
I am learning to love other people, and I am learning to love myself.
Peace to you.
Thanks for everything, TWLOHA.