There are certain days as we walk our journeys that we will always remember because those were the days we changed. These days were Inciting Incidents. Parts of our stories ended and new parts began. When those days come, we’re faced with the decision: Shut down or continue on in this new direction. I’ve done both.
Neither one is easy.
Just over two years ago I found myself sitting in the small office of a nutritional specialist. She hosted a radio program on my local Christian station, and I usually liked what she had to say, so I looked her up and set up a time to meet. We decided we’d take things a little slow, just learning how to make better decisions when it comes to eating and exercising.
But during our second meeting she wanted to talk about why I thought I was living such an unhealthy lifestyle. I started going through my usual story about the death of my nephew nine years before and how I had lived in this haze for so long that I just didn’t care. I knew she’d cry. People always cry. It’s a horrible part of our lives. It’s a sad story. I’d learned to put up these walls, though, and just tell the story virtually emotionless and just for what it was. I guess I’d just disconnected myself from it when I had to tell the story.
I had just told her about administering CPR and always wondering if I’d done it right, wondering if I could have done more. She stopped me. Usually people don’t stop me during this part of the story, so I started to continue on. She stopped me again. She said, “Julie, I want you to look at me, and I want you to hear something. If you never learn anything from me, I want you to know this: It’s not your fault.”
I knew that I’d done everything I could all those years ago. I knew that I’d done everything correctly based on my training. I knew it all in my head. But it took nine years before I knew it in my heart.
That day I crumbled. I just sat there as she let me cry on her shoulder, well over our allotted one-hour limit. A virtual stranger looked into my eyes and said the words I’d been longing to hear for years.
It’s not your fault.
And I still struggle. It still took me almost a year from that date to really decide to start focusing more on my health and care about me again. Four months ago, almost two years from that first visit, I ran in a half marathon. And I don’t yet look the way I want to look. I don’t physically feel the way I want to feel.
But I’ve been freed.
The guilt that weighed me down for years was lifted with three words that I finally let sink in. There was nothing you could do, Julie. It’s not your fault.
Sometimes things just happen. And sometimes when those things happen, there is no explanation. My nephew died of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, something that science cannot yet explain.
It’s not your fault.
Maybe you’ve had a situation like mine. Maybe it’s nothing like mine, but you found yourself in a set of horrible circumstances that you had absolutely no control over. I hope today that you will hear the words that I craved for so long and I hope they free you.
It’s not your fault, friend.
One day we’re going to find out the answers for the things we can’t explain here. One day I believe that we’re going to know why. And one day I believe that Jesus is going to look me in the eyes and say, “Listen, My child. This is why it had to happen. It was part of my plan all along.”
This post is part of a group blogging project celebrating the release of Inciting Incidents, a book featuring Tracee Persiko, whom I wrote about last week, along with five other contributors. You can go read posts from other contributors and link up your own post here. You can also go buy the book here! Definitely check it out!