Hollywood Nights

Two years ago today was the best day of my life. I finally made it to Hollywood for a screenwriting awards ceremony and live read held by the Oscars (The Academy Awards). I was one step closer to making my dreams come true. And for the first time in my life, as I stepped out of the parking deck and onto Hollywood Boulevard, I felt a sense of belonging. Of course I was wearing my power outfit (black skirt and pink, dressy tank top) and my favorite Nine West (five-inch) heels. (I plan to take over the world in those shoes. They’re that fabulous!!) I will never forget how I felt as I took that step and looked at the Stars below me. The sunshine and air hugged me, my soul was overcome with peace, and a smile I didn’t recognize appeared on my face. I was finally home.

Back to belonging…From the time we are born until the time we die, all of us, at each stage of life, look for a place to belong–be it a family, a job, a city, a group of friends, a church, a team, a neighborhood, or in the heart of another. We search for a place that calms our souls enough to feel wanted, loved, cared for, safe, secure, or a sense of purpose.

Many are lucky enough to find all of these places. Most are lucky enough to find some of them. And sadly, some do not find any of them. They walk the streets (literally or figuratively) like nomads, feeling no security or purpose for breathing. I could relate to most. I’ve always had friends and family and (most of the time) a job, but never felt my purpose. I believed I didn’t belong anywhere. I was thirty-five before I found my home–and I didn’t even know I was looking for it.

I’ve always struggled understanding my purpose or feeling like I belong somewhere (permanently). Nothing I had ever done in any aspect of my life had worked out the way I had hoped. Sure I had accomplishments. I earned a few degrees and had opportunities others could’ve only dreamed, but none of that mattered. I saw no point in living. And I didn’t really want to. It was my main struggle and my biggest demon. It was the hole I never could escape–no matter how hard I tried.

I recently explained this to a friend I’ve had since I was ten years old who was visiting from California. (She had gone with me to the awards ceremony.) I told her of my struggle and explained the place my mind dwelled. With tears in her eyes, she grabbed my hand, kissed it twice, and rubbed it with her thumb and fingers. She said she could tell I was hopeless, and she unknowingly helped me carry the burden by offering support (in her own way) and assuring me she loved me no matter what. It was difficult holding back those tears. I’m not sure why I did.

A day or two later, she sent me a couple texts. The first one said “You have a beautiful soul.” The second one said “You belong where beautiful things are.” I could no longer hold back tears. I cried for ten minutes. That was the best, most humbling compliment I had ever received, one I will never forget. It carried me forward. Thank you.

Throughout life’s journey, I have had some amazing friends. You wouldn’t believe the support I’ve had thus far. And when you have great friends, it’s easier to be one. My best friend, who’s also one of my newest, has been supportive in so many ways about so many things. She is a rare human, unlike any I’ve ever known, and I am thankful our paths crossed in this life. Henry Ford once said “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me,” and she most certainly does. Well…she tries to, anyway. I’m quite stubborn, ya know . (Taurus)

I realized that belonging is a mental and emotional state. I was told (by someone else) I belong everywhere. (Because I have so many different life experiences, different kinds of friends, and have survived and thrived in many different environments.) I didn’t understand or believe this because I didn’t feel it. I confused profession with purpose–a mistake I continue to make.

Sure, we can find the meaning of life from Solomon in Ecclesiastes  12:13 where he says “Fear God and obey his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man,” but how does this give us purpose? The first two commandments explain: love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. That’s our purpose.

Of course you’re thinking–what about those who have no friends or family? How can they love? My question for you is why don’t they? And what are you doing about it? We could all be better. Amen.

The NLT of Proverbs 18:24 says “There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” Other translations say, “but there is a friend who is closer than a brother,” alluding to Jesus. I am thankful for both: the love of Jesus and the friends who unknowingly remind me of His love. Thanks be to God for you. I love you all so much. And when I think of these things, I feel the same as I did that Hollywood night two years ago, and I feel at home once again.

May we all become people who help others feel the hug of the sunshine and fresh air, peace of soul, and a place to call home. May we all bring about new smiles on the faces of others, especially the nomads who wander the streets.

Much love. God bless.

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