AP NEWS

Use life’s changes to make a positive, unique impact

April 11, 2019

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” — 1 John 3:1 NIV

They are in my house again. The two men with nasty sneers and malevolent eyes are ordering John and me to do things against our will. Both of us have been struck repeatedly. John has blood trickling from his nose, and my bottom lip has filled my mouth with blood from the most recent smarting smack I received when I screeched for them to quit.

“Stop it! Stop it, now! You’re hurting him.”

These thugs smell vile as if they bathed in alcohol, tobacco, and body odor. John is trying to resist their orders because he knows it is wrong. The one with the shaved head is wearing a black T-shirt with a red face emoji that has “xxxx” in the place of a mouth. He is the one who smacked me and his coarse hands are now pushing me out of the room and into the bedroom away from John and the man with long, dark, greasy ponytail. I’ve got to get back to John some way. I’ve got to figure out how to get away from this man. His touch reviles me. His smell makes me want to vomit, but it is his negative, dark energy, emanating off him like the stream of dribbles left on the street by garbage trucks in the summertime, that most fills me with terror.

Must. Figure. Something. Out.

I hear John scream from our dining room. What has happened to him? Must. Get. To. Him. Now! I open my mouth to scream, but I have

no voice. No voice. Nothing comes out — not even a squeak. I am as voiceless as the emoji face on the evil man’s shirt. Meanwhile the stinky, rotten man laughs menacingly.

Once more I try to shout, then my cat, Tippi Tail, begins to walk on my legs, adjusting to get comfortable, and I am awake, soaked in my own sweat. My heart is racing; my hands are tightly gripped.

“Wake up, Steph,” I think reflexively. Crawling out of bed, I grab a drink of water from my nightstand, and walk to the bathroom. It is the same basic nightmare I have repeatedly experienced for weeks. Each occurrence has its own twist, but all end in me trying to scream, but I have no voice. How deeply symbolic.

A month or so ago, many of our accounts were hacked. From Facebook to Instagram, from Netflix to Amazon, and even one of our bank cards — all essentially stolen. Porn was posted on my husband’s social media accounts. Netflix went from three users to five, all of whom required Spanish-speaking shows. Numerous attempted purchases appeared on our Amazon and bank accounts. Thank heavens for our local, Chesapeake, Ohio, PNC bank branch where Tammy and all of the other employees take great care of our family.

Even with all of the great help and support from PNC, my husband has not returned to social media; and, we still cannot get Amazon completely corrected as trying to get an actual person who cares enough to truly help you at this big corporation is nearly an impossible task, we are finding. The days and weeks that followed have left of us filled with much stress, worry, and many sleepless nights as we continue into week four of trying to get Amazon fully corrected.

Stolen identity. While I am not sure if this is the exact title that would most accurately describe what happened to us, something was stolen nonetheless. Life has been different since then — filled with a series of actions, follow through steps, waiting, hoping, and praying that everything will just return to normal. And yet, the reality is that time has never, nor will ever, return to the way things were. Life is in a constant state of flux. So why do we often think in terms of “I just want things to go back to normal”?

This concept of stolen identity led me down the proverbial rabbit hole of thought. What about other forms of stolen identity? For example, I am reminded of my Grandfather whose personality, mind, and even bodily functions, were gradually overtaken by Alzheimer’s. In a similar vein, I have considered all of the athletes, both amateur and professional, whose lives are turned upside down and forever changed by injury. Who are they if they are no longer an athlete? For that matter, what about the person who simply retires from a career they loved?

Who are they without their job?

I am reminded of the few people I know who have experienced traumatic brain injury.

Often, they never return to their former self. Then, there are the numbers of people I have known who battled, or are battling, cancer. I would conjecture that life with, and even after cancer, must be a forever-changing experience. The same must be true for those battling with multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, and so forth. I guess the point is, we are all one injury, one diagnosis, or even one event away from experiencing a so-called thief stealing our identity.

All of these thoughts have been swirling around my mind and heart for weeks. I think that is why I continue to have the recurring night terror. Then, this past weekend, my heart was quite literally and figuratively filled with a reminder.

It came at the closing of a yoga class that I was teaching on Saturday morning in Ashland at Brown Dog Yoga. At the end of class, with eyes closed, I asked the students to place one of their hands on top of their heart. I shared with them the story of how I learned, during yoga teacher training, that each individual’s heartbeat is unique. Every person creates a signature ECG, and much like one’s fingerprint, no two ECGs are exactly alike.

Adding the following words, “This means you are infinitely and beautifully inscribed as a child of God. You are special. Only you can bless the world in the way God created you to do.”

My own words, no doubt Divinely inspired, provided a powerful reminder for me, and I hope for you too, Dear Reader.

No matter what changes life is throwing at you as you are reading this, please remember the following. Each of us is a singular, divinely created being. There is no one like Y-O-U. And throughout all of life’s changes, something doesn’t change, and that is the fact that you are a uniquely crafted soul created and cared for by a Supreme Being. No one else can be you. No one else can bring to the table of life what you and your experience brings. So use those changes, use your Supremely created self to find your own way to bless the world. Heaven knows, the world sure could use a blessing or two.

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net. Or you can check out her website, stephsimply.com.