As defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
1: capitalized : January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ
2: an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being
3 a (1): a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2): an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3): an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure b: a revealing scene or moment
I can remember as a child hearing the word epiphany; I always associated it with church, or religion, especially around Christmas. Catholic families were urged to leave their Christmas trees up until January 6th, which was the Feast of The Epiphany. The day marked the arrival of the Three Wise Men (I pondered over using capital letters) in Bethlehem to offer gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the newborn Christ. To this day Jackie and I still try to observe this tradition; funny how some traditions stick with you for years…..
I’ve had a lot of epiphanies during my childhood, adolescent, and adult years; in terms of the simplest definition, we all have. I remember my sons Brian and Christian 'discovering' their fingers and toes when they were infants and the look of complete surprise on their faces when they took their first step as toddlers. I remember my grandfather teaching me how to read a ruler, my Mom showing me how to be self-sustaining, my Dad giving life’s lessons in becoming a man. I recall how it felt being a father for the very first time. I remember realizing that it is possible to love someone unconditionally without fear of being hurt (thank you Jackie).
All of these are examples of epiphanies, or what I call 'aha' moments. We’ve all had them, haven’t we? I’m guessing that I’ve already triggered your recollection of several of your own 'aha' moments. I’m sure that some of them stand out more than others, which have been more important in their impact on your life.
It’s one of those 'aha' moments in my life that I want to tell you about today. This was not just an epiphany. In terms of who I am, what I am, and what I am becoming, this was THE epiphany, the one that truly changed the course of my life. Picture Redd Fox as Fred Sanford clutching his chest and exclaiming “This is the big one Elizabeth! Oh Lord. I’m comin’ Honey. Help me, please!” Get it? This was no ordinary aha. I remember that day as if it were yesterday……
November 5, 2006
Let me 'set the table' for that day by briefly telling you about a couple of things that happened leading up to it. I read a book (Get Glowing, by Ann Mincey), and watched a movie (The Secret). I’ll devote more time to each of these in the future, I promise.
After reading Ann’s book, and watching the movie, I knew that I needed to change some things in my life, or more specifically, the way I looked at life. Have you heard the saying “What you believe, you receive.”? I’m not asking if you believe in the statement; that’s a topic for another day.
Let’s just say that I realized that in order for me to have the things in life (tangible and intangible) that were important to me, I had to believe that I was worthy of them. So I had to change the way I looked at life and the way I looked at myself! And oh by the way, I was 53 years old at the time.
On the night of November 4th, 2006 I went to bed telling myself “Tomorrow I begin the process of changing who I am. Tomorrow I change the course of my life. Tomorrow the adventure begins.”
One final thought on that night: I fell asleep in prayer asking God to help me in my journey.
Have you ever experienced a day when you knew that you were on the verge of learning something, of discovering something, about yourself or something in life? I would liken it to reaching for a word that’s on the tip of your tongue, or recalling the title of a song, or the name of an old friend you haven’t seen in years. You know that you know something, you just don’t know, for the life of you, just what it is!
That’s the feeling that I woke up with on Sunday, November 5th, 2006. I believed that I was on the verge of finding out something about myself, something that would be an 'aha', something that was of great importance. I just didn’t know what it was! That feeling would stay with me all day long; so close to knowing, yet so far away….
When it happened…..
That evening I had to drive to the grocery store to pick up a few last minute items that we needed for dinner. While in route, I kept thinking about the old Allstate insurance commercial that pictured two cupped hands forming a 'bowl', with the announcer’s voice saying “You’re in good hands with Allstate.” Remember that one? “Strange”, I said to myself, wondering why my thoughts were on that commercial.
I stopped at a traffic light with the image of those cupped hands still occupying my thoughts, lost in my own little world. I was jolted back to reality by a guy in the car behind me laying in his horn; the light had turned green. I didn’t move; I was too busy looking at my own hands. They had taken the shape of the hands in that Allstate commercial. No, I didn’t hear the announcer's voice!
What I did see, at least in my minds eye, was my destiny. You see, at that moment I realized that all my life I had given control of my destiny to everyone else in and around my life. I had for years let other people, through their thoughts and opinions of me, dictate who I was and what I did. In one split second, in the blink of an eye, all the shortcomings, and doubts, and failures, and settling for less that had been a part of my life for so long seemed to melt away in the tears that were streaming down my face.
Time stands still. The earth moves. Wow. No more running from the past, no more hiding from the hurt. No looking back; the past doesn’t matter any more.
My destiny was mine to control, to shape, to fulfill; it had been all along. I wouldn’t give it to anyone else, ever again. Once more I offered a silent prayer, asking God to take my hand and lead me on my journey.
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