Getting past the walls that we build around ourselves

Our lives change in profound ways when we reach out to others — and let them reach out to us

I am flipping through the photos of this past year.

It has been an amazing time for me. Blessed at every juncture, I have been filled with light and love and pure joy. Despite huge and heartbreaking challenges, each day was worthy of this page, each moment a cherished memory. It was a lovely meshing of people and events.

As a little girl I was shy and nervous. By the age of four I suffered from ulcers and can remember watching other kids eat when I could not. A lover of the outdoors, Mother said that she really never saw me — I was out in the forest or with the cattle. Some days I would wander back home long after dark on my trusted horse only to be in trouble once again.

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As an adult, the low self-esteem that crept up on me in my teenage years consumed me. Outgoing on the outside, I was fearful, nervous and dying inside. Terrified, I found it impossible to know myself and hard to know others. I made poor choices.

Determined, hard working, deeply compassionate and self-educated, it was not long before I had carved out a space in agriculture. Whether here in Canada or somewhere else in the world, I found the people and the challenge at all levels exciting.

Agriculture was good to me, but anxiety ate at my soul. So I did what most farmers and leaders do and drove myself harder — until I collapsed in 2006. My physical recovery was long and my mental health was frail from the stress. By 2015, I chose to drive to the sea and start living my dream of going to university.

I found immersing the mind in a new challenge sharpened it and gave me energy. Just as exercising my body each day not only had me fitting back into my high school graduation dress but sparked the confidence needed to try new things.

While living on an island certainly adjusts the speed at which you do things, it does not heal broken hearts, minds or bodies by itself. At all times it took curiosity, courage and a heap of faith and a community of support.

Community is loosely defined as a fellowship. I am blessed to look back at the care and love from the communities that I have lived in before and that I enjoy now. Unknown to the soul when we are weary, there is an unseen lineup of folks waiting to be asked, wanting to ‘turn up’ and to get to know us.

I get that now. I understand that I was never really alone. When I felt alone, it was because I did not know how to let the fellowship and love of others in so that I could feel profound joy.

To be in this place of acceptance — where I fully embrace the light and love and joy — took six decades. But I am here.

First, I had to be open and vulnerable enough to let it all happen and to allow myself to be embraced by the communities and families around me. Slowly and certainly, just as the sun does rise each morning and sets each evening, there is a day ahead just waiting.

How will you fill this day?

Will it be an act of invitation, kindness or forgiveness that you gift to someone? Will it be an act of self-appreciation and a day that you give to yourself? Perhaps the day asks you to ask for help — and that’s a good way to honour a day. Or it could be a visit that has been put off and, despite the fear, turns out to be fun or inspiring. Is it setting boundaries so you feel secure that needs doing? Could it be acceptance of love and letting that slowly seep into the soul?

Empowerment and healing come from the grace we accept from those around us. Energy and deep fulfilment come to us from the grace we show to others.

When I speak of light, it means I feel light and am not in a dark world. When I speak of love, I feel loved and have a profound appreciation for all people. Joy is the result of a deep knowing that my blessings are abundant, regardless of the challenge, through the relationships in the communities and families that make up my world.

I am not advocating for dramatic change nor am I offering solutions.

This is a small glimpse of my own very complex story. Your path and your journey will differ, but the basic message of this moment is: It’s OK to let individuals in a community love you. They want you in their tribe.

Appreciate that you are not alone in this — it just feels that way. Give graciously to someone else and let the love seep in. Give graciously to yourself with rest, wonder, boundaries and breaks.

As you reflect in this moment, be assured that joy is natural, deserved and personal — and you are worthy of it.

About the author

AF Columnist

Brenda Schoepp

Brenda Schoepp works as an international mentor and motivational speaker. She can be contacted through her website at www.brendaschoepp.com. All rights reserved.

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