| Story Time |

High school for me wasn’t terrible, but it was far from enjoyable. I was one of those kids who didn’t have a set group of really close friends, so I tended to bounce around. I played sports and spent a lot of time with my teammates, I was a band geek (trumpet for life) so Thursday night post-practice ice cream was always a weekly high point, and call me bossy because student leadership was something I was involved since grade 7. Although I had friends and knew there would be someone I could sit with at lunch, I also felt quite alone in the sense that no one would be there for the big things. I always felt a little too loud, a little too annoying, and not quite sure of myself to ever find a “best friend” to go through the drama that is boys and growing up.

Fast forward to my time attending bible school in Australia. The very first weekend my new classmates and I went out to the city, I was so worried people would get lost in this new place and we didn’t really know each other yet to realize someone was missing, so I insisted on the buddy system. Thanks to my friend, my nickname the first 4 days into school was “Mom”. Honestly, it was a little devasting. For the first time I left my tiny hometown with a chance to be whoever I wanted, and there I was back to where I started. But something incredible happened, somehow, my nickname slowly shifted and soon it because less of a joke, and more of a term of endearment. Before I knew it, some of the other girls would crawl into my bunk bed with me to cuddle and talk when they were feeling homesick, classmates were sneaking into the kitchen to steal some fresh baking, and when in need they always knew I had sunscreen at the beach when they forgot. At the end of the school, one of the staff wrote in a letter to me, “Yes, you are “Mom”, but it’s such a vital characteristic to have, anyone can come to you and that they are in safe caring hands.”

That letter, and all of the other letters from my friends addressed to “Mom”, brought me to tears as I made my journey back to Canada. For the first time in my entire life, I felt like I was unashamedly Nicole, and in return, I was overwhelmingly and unconditionally loved more than I had ever been before. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect. I am constantly reminding myself to talk less and listen more, to let others lead the way and be a part of the team, and to take a breath and slow down. It’s hard, but I am trying.

When I look at my life today, and think about the fact that I have a husband who loves me far more than I deserve even when I am absolutely ridiculous and weird, women in my life who would drop everything to be at my side if I needed, and family who is only a phone call away, I can finally say that who I am is okay. Who I am is worth loving. It took me a long time to learn that, and sometimes I need a reminder. But I hope this resonates with someone who is maybe where my story started. Everything will be okay, because you’re pretty amazing. More than anything…

 

YOU are worth loving.

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