Living with intentionality can be powerful. But sometimes that power can break your spirit as you lose track of why you gained so much focus in the first place. My recent journey in understanding the impacts of a life lived with intentionality led me to an uncomfortable place. A place where I didn’t have all the answers and where I was not fully in control. But sometimes it’s okay to sit in the uncomfortable; to lack the words that express fully how one feels. It’s in those moments that we identify what is truly valuable.
As I look back on my life I’ve always made an effort to see value in others; an appreciation that makes me give the best version of myself. In many ways that is how intentionality has become such a central point in my life. But somewhere in this process I forgot the value that I carried for myself. The recognition that I was worth it. Thankfully my wife noticed this acknowledgment that was lacking in me and she gifted me with a trip back home. A trip 14 years in the making. A trip that set me on a path to rediscover my own value.
Value in word
My trip to Portugal became real when I realized that the excitement in my heart was echoing in my brothers heart as well. To experience the sights and sounds that I grew up with was exhilarating; to do it with him was emotional. I didn’t know what to expect. Over the years we’ve had our disagreements. Our misunderstandings. Even our extended period of time when silence was the only sound between us. This unknown was a question on my value as a brother; as an uncle; even as a friend.
I stood in our parents living room when the door bell rang. He ran to me when we locked eyes and in that same place that saw us grow old we hugged for the first time in a decade. I will never forget that hug. Nor the kisses on my cheek. Nor the words that he spoke. “I missed you my little brother. I’ve missed you so much. And I am so thankful you are here.”
Value in touch
This trip to Portugal also allowed me to lock eyes with other members of my family. There are many who have played an important part in my life but none made me feel as nostalgic as my cousin Fatinha. I didn’t know it until we were reunited but she was the one who made kindness a real truth in my life. You see Fatinha can’t talk. Injured with cerebral palsy due to a complicated birth she would be permanently constrained to communicate with gestures and unique sounds that would provide her meaning.
I got a chance to visit her at the facility she lives in and to see her smile of pure joy was so worth it. I remember the summers we would spend at the pool. I remember the times I would pull her on her tube across the water as she just relaxed. I remember her smile as we would lay on our beach towels and I would talk to her about my day. She didn’t say anything and she didn’t need to. Her presence was enough to remind me of her value in my life and my value in hers.
Value in time
On my last day before returning to the States my Mom reminded me of someone she had recently seen and who had asked for me: my elementary school teacher. The last time I saw her I was heading to college and it was over 20 years ago. But still, she remembered me. And I remembered her.
On our way to a restaurant we decided to stop by and say hi. She still lived in the same house and as I rang the doorbell she recognized me and immediately told me how much taller I was. She welcomed me in her home and we spent a good time talking about our lives. What stood out was her interest in hearing about my life and the decisions I made after graduating high school. I will remember her smile and affirmation that “you’ve turned out to be a fine young man with a beautiful family.” To hear that from my first teacher was so powerful. Almost as if I was still that young boy standing in her classroom all those years ago.
While this journey of rediscovering my value has not been easy it has been extremely enriching. And I know that my story isn’t necessarily the same for others who have questioned their self worth. But this is where faith bridges any doubt. When we seek truth about ourselves God meets us with a level of grace that only He can. This trip to Portugal was life giving, and that was because God met me there. In the laughter of my family, the smiles of strangers, or just the moments in silence as I marvelled at the blessings in my life.