Four years ago I was at a marathon that was helping a Ukrainian organization help veteran soldiers receive the medical care and physical rehabilitation they needed to heal from their wounds. Now, I did not run. If you ever see me running at any moment in time, that means you need to run too. I run from danger, not for the sheer enjoyment of it nor to enrich my physical well-being. God invented coffee for a reason.
Back to the marathon. While I was waiting for my friend to finish the marathon, I noticed a soldier who had lost one leg. I am not sure how recently he had lost it or when he came over to the United States, but what I did notice was the sheer devastation on his face. No one was able to cheer him up or bring any type of solace to him. Then as the marathon ended, I met my friend, and noticed that another soldier had done the marathon…in a wheelchair! He lost both of his legs and he felt FAAAAN-tastic! There was truly peace and optimism in his eyes. These two soldiers have remained permanently etched in my memory.
Flash forward about a year and a half later, I would experience a devastating blow to my life. We can say the damage was so detrimental that G-d had to amputate my heart. Just like these soldiers, my heart was good at one point, just like their legs were good too. But the devastation of war injuries, be they from a Russian bomb or bullet or in my case over three decades of spiritual warfare and damage…it had to go. There was nothing wrong with my hope, joy, optimism, passion, etc. The problem was that the damage that infected it with a metaphorical gangrene meant that it had to go otherwise that remaining 10% that was still salvageable would cease to exist. Like these soldiers, I fought hard to save that part of me. I did not want a piece of who I was to go away like that. To be incomplete in this society means rejection, ostracization, and little to no chances of being accepted by the community. I begged G-d for years to fill that void, even as a young adult because I knew that I had a void, a part of me that was amputated at a young age by the wound of adoption. The void was never filled…thus a very insecure human being was born because I knew what the consequences were.
So….the final cut off took place and once again, I fought to keep that 90% because I wanted so desperately to be seen as a worthwhile person, and to be met where I was at in life, and it led to poor choices in career, finances, and romance. Over the last three years I have learned to accept this loss of who I am, and I have learned to accept the permanency of this condition. It was in this process, I was given the best advice for my birthday.
I was told by a stranger the other day to give myself something I have always wanted for my birthday. As I sipped my coffee and reflected on the last 40 years, I realized that the one thing I always wanted was to be accepted even though my heart is incomplete and will always remain incomplete. In American society, we are expected to be perfectly packaged Ken and Barbie dolls, otherwise no one will ever love us, and God will have his hands zip tied unless you can complete yourself. This is all bull shit, if you ask me. To say this means that even G-d doesn’t love us unconditionally and therefore cannot love you through others unless you meet certain conditions. This thinking is also a complete contradiction to what the Bible says about G-d and who G-d is. Sometimes, I wonder where the world ends and G-d begins, but I digress.
Well…what about those, like me, whose hearts were amputated because the trials of life battered and damaged the parts of us that made us whole to the point where they had to be cut off otherwise it would destroy the rest of our souls? Yes, I’ve permanently lost my innocence, joy, hope, and passion. That enormous part of me had to be cut out because of all the damage that had to be done. That damaged part of me was about to completely destroy me. You know the saying, “Break your heart to save your soul,”? Yes…that was me, and it was painful to lose that because that made up about 90% of who I am! But the pain did not compare to the insecurity of wondering if I’ll ever be accepted for the 10% I have left.
I’m done asking G-d to fill the void because obviously he has a purpose for leaving me incomplete. I’m done looking for spiritual prosthetics because they are all faulty and temporary. I decided to look back on the two Ukrainian soldiers. I could either remain in despair over the one piece that was lost, or I could value what was left of me and live in gratitude.
My choice: I will value and accept that remaining 10%…even if I end up alone for the rest of my life. I am proud of that 10% because that is my integrity, love, dedication, and faith. It will never be enough for many, but this is enough for me. Even at 10%….I am enough.