I remember it clearly; hustling down the halls of my school as a kid, carefully managing my every move. I had to get from point A to point B quickly enough to stay off the radar, while somehow moving slow enough to avoid drawing attention to myself. The pit in my stomach and thumping in my chest were undetectable to most. Many would've seen me as reserved and aloof. The truth is, if I could've just faded into the shadows, I would have.
Thousands of miles and more years than I'd like to admit now separate me from those halls, but I've never really shook the habit of hiding. The jeers and jabs that echoed down the corridors of what should've been a safe place still echo in my mind. Fading into the shadows continues to appeal to me occasionally.
But something amazing has happened. God blessed me with an incredible wife who has been a safe haven for over half my life now. She loves me wholeheartedly and pushes me out of hiding daily. She's a beacon of light and has walked alongside me as God leads me closer and closer to a place of healing; and within that place, I've found a little something extra.
Somewhat recently, several new people have come into my life. I've had great friendships with some really good folks throughout my adult years - but theres just something timely and unique about this particular convergence. Like a mid-2000's sitcom about a group of unrealistically diverse characters, we span the whole gamut; no two of us are quite alike. Our truest commonality is the commitment we all share in our work with at-risk youth.
These people embody many of the things I value. They live in gratitude and joy, warmth and kindness. They are intentional and sincere, and live in the here-and-now with appreciation for the wonder of life. In this community we share, and with the ferocity of my wife's love, I rediscover what it means to be me.
Whether we're processing the burden of our work, sharing an adventure, or taste testing new and exciting tequilas, the energy is always electric. Those echoing halls from years ago seem more like a nearly forgotten dream. The urge to hide and be lesser-than dissipates and a weight falls from my shoulders, freeing me to be not just myself, but a little something extra.