Have you ever had a moment or event in your life where it seems like, whether you believe in a God or not, that God is speaking to you? I have, on several occasions. Tonight, I once again encountered the phenomenon known as serendipity – an instance of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.
Over the past few years, especially during the latter half of 2011, I’ve done a lot of navel gazing: analysis of myself, my life, and where I have and haven’t gotten in it. Along with that has been A LOT of replaying of victim tapes of lost dreams, discarded opportunities, and abandoned potential. I’ve swung from one side of the pendulum from self-pity, self-hate, & self-abandonment to the other side where I’m moving forward, letting go of the past, and motivating myself to do something different and better with my life…only to swing right back to the other side, without ever having actually taken the action I was intending to. Round and round she goes, where she stops, everyone knows…because they’ve seen her stop exactly there soooo many times before.
About a month ago, I was on the positive end of that pendulum swing and I started making plans and doing the research to make a real effort toward improving my health while contributing something to others. I decided I was going to walk a half-marathon in 2012 at the Portland Rock ‘n’ Roll and raise funds and awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by joining their Team in Training (TNT) program. Initially, I was really excited and gung-ho. I had started this blog and was refocusing on my twelve-step recovery journey for a variety of issues, and had started doing things to take care of me again. I started a secondary blog and told some people who are part of my “new” church family (more on that in another post at another time).
Then the pendulum swung and the depression started cycling through, juxtaposed with some really difficult relational issues between myself and some loved ones, and I started spiraling my way out of thinking about or doing the things to prepare for this event and lifestyle change. During this period, I happened to come across a very helpful and informative blog of David Miller, LMFT, NCC. He wrote a series on “Stages of Change or how do we change?” which helped me recognize and acknowledge one of the key repeated cycles in my life: aborted change.
Over the past couple of weeks or so, there has been a return to poor eating habits, denial and avoidance in dealing with things. There has also been transition in some key relationships with loved ones and I’ve kind of been in relapse limbo land with regards to my compulsive overeating and my emotional/relational anorexia. During that time I went back into isolation and fell back on valid excuses to avoid attending a church service and completely skipped the first two information meetings that I had initially planned on attending to sign up for the half-marathon and committing to this effort to really contribute something to the world at large by raising funds for cancer research. Each time making that choice had me slinking further back inside of myself and mentally letting my belt out another notch – which translated into a physical regaining of about five to six pounds…which may not sound like much, but when you’re only 5’3″ and 250+ lbs, it’s a lot.
Since I skipped the last meeting on Saturday, I knew that tonight was my do or die moment for following through on making the changes and committing myself to my road less traveled. Even so, I still almost skipped it and was going to just watch the video online instead of actually going to a meeting with a bunch of people I’ve never met, who were probably in much better shape, and better equipped in so many ways than I am….yada, yada, yada.
Here’s where serendipity begins.
I couldn’t get the page to load. Then, once I got the page to load, I couldn’t get the video link to load. I checked and reset the connections and power cycled both the internet box and the wireless modem. I got the page to load again and then all the tabs froze. Meanwhile, I’m rushing to fix a completely sad excuse for a dinner for my family, just in case I actually had to leave the apartment to get to the meeting…which is what I wound up doing. By the time I got their dinner served onto plates and decided to try to make the meeting, I had 40 minutes to get to the meeting place, via public transportation by bus and light rail (train).
I rush out the door, thinking that I might wind up walking the 1.5 miles and be a bit late and definitely hurting and out of sorts, because I’m experiencing a flare of my fibromyalgia symptoms and am already hurting in various places throughout my body. I called the transit tracker and discovered if I hurried, I had three minutes to actually catch the bus, and I did it! Then, as I stepped off the bus and crossed the tracks to the platform to catch the train, I saw the headlights of the train that would take me to the stop one block away from my meeting. I arrived with 20 minutes to spare!
Since I was early, I had time to be a little lost in finding the actual room where the meeting was taking place, get myself a sandwich and soda, and still have time to eat before the meeting started. Almost as soon as I sat down, I was greeted by a woman who seemed to be of a similar age and fitness level as myself. She’s a mentor for the team and shared with me that it would be her fifth walking event. We talked about some of the doubts I have about my physical abilities, lack of people I know whom I can count on for donations, and how she was able to deal with the same kinds of challenges. While we were talking, another lady came up and greeted her and we were introduced.
Or should I say reintroduced?
She is the team walking coach and she happens to be one of the most significant and influential people from my past. She was the program director/principal of the alternative school for teen moms I had graduated from in 1990. She was someone who believed in me and in my potential and worked hard to help me achieve for me the greatest accomplishment at that time of my life – earning my high school diploma and transitioning into the local community college. I hadn’t seen her since about 2003 or 2004, when my son was involved in the outdoor school program, which was one of the programs she was an administrator of at the time. We were able to spend a few minutes chatting and briefly catching each other up on how we came to be at this meeting, during which she told me that she and my favorite teacher from middle school had run into each other several months ago and had a conversation about me. Mind you, I knew them at two completely different times in two completely different schools. It never entered my mind that I would ever be the subject of conversation between these two influential people from my past.
But wait, there’s more.
During the information meeting, I found out that tonight was the night that the actual kick off event was scheduled for those registered to participate this year and that the registration fee, if paid tonight, would be half of what it normally cost. I consulted with my fiancee since we had this money earmarked for some other bills and got the go ahead. So, now I’m committed and I’m reconnecting with more people who I thought were gone from my life forever.
Call it what you will, serendipity or coincidence. I’m calling it divine affirmation that God is speaking to me and showing me that restoration and recovery are possible and being realized in my life. I just have to keep trusting, believing, and accepting that God Is the I AM in my life.