My greatest challenges come from the experiences that touch my core and bring me face to face with my humanity: every episode of my life’s drama that reveals the cracks and flaws in my armor – every time my lips kissed the ground from falling flat on my face; every moment my head was bowed in defeat or my tears watered the ground; those times I felt increased pressure that mocked the finitude of my strength. All these things blew the embers of guilt and shame that my inner child internalized as a result of messages from yester-years. Despite my understanding that life is full of mistakes and fixes of those mistakes, every time I messed up, the little girl inside of me cried and wondered when she -when I, Nikki -would be good enough. Good enough to be loved. Good enough to be wanted. Good enough to be…enough.

I talked and wrote so much about healing this child inside of me, this little girl who had been crying for years, hurting for years, wounded for years. She taught me that not all skeletons are in closets. Some skeletons are buried deep inside of us in the grounds of our souls. And every now and then, at what seems to be the most inopportune, inconvenient times, the winds of life will blow the grains of dirt once hiding those skeletons buried within us. Life will reveal fragments and broken pieces. Spirit lovingly grants us the gift of recognition and revelation, inviting us to dig up the bones, gather and remove the broken pieces from the fertile soil of our hearts, and lay them to rest in a place beyond ourselves.

What my heart and soul, my little-girl-self, had to learn to do is take the pieces and create something beautiful like a mosaic. To create something beautiful so that the stories hurt less, so that when I look at myself I don’t see the wounds or brokenness. Instead, I see beauty. I see the things in me I once couldn’t see. I see the things that once caused me great pain transform into a work of art. Truthfully, that little girl will always be with me. She and I weave together the threads of my journey into a beautiful tapestry that reveals to me an affirming declaration that I am okay. We take needle and thread and patch together what were once the scraps of my heart left after circumstances cut it into pieces.

My little girl remains with me as a reminder and an anchor to ground me in compassion and human empathy. She remains with me. And I hope to God that I will always remember how to love her and care for her through pain and wounding, joys and triumphs. Together, we will continue to stitch a most precious quilt to wrap her in as I gently kiss her on her forehead, look her in my eyes, and say to her “I love you.” That is my desire, my hope and my dream. That is my life. And with every work of art that we shape, I am reminded that I’m okay, that there is good in me, that I am strong and resilient, that I am beautiful, that I am love, and that I am God’s child.

Thank you, Nikki.