A little background on me:
My name is Brian Collins, those who are close, call me The Billy Goat. If one were to describe me it would be a hippie/mountain man who runs around barefoot, works with horses, sleeps in hammocks, climbs everything (hence Billy Goat), and avoids people whenever possible. I may also have a slight addiction to coffee and long curvy mountain roads, but we'll just pretend I don't. I also am diagnosed Bipolar I, for those of you who don't know what that means, it means I go through extreme mood changes. It also means I often am extremely depressed but still have more energy than the worst sugar-high you've ever seen times a thousand. It's not fun.
Having the above information I'm going to tell you about a nail.
Yes, you did read that correctly, I'm going to tell you about a nail and by some miracle explain how that nail and I have a similar story.
We're in Tuskegee, Alabama (for those of you who haven't read the other blogs this week). We arrived on Sunday, about 3pm. When we got to the church we're staying at, we unloaded our stuff and looked around for a bit while waiting for the other cars. After people started rolling in we started to play frisbee and get everything ready for worship and dinner that night. While playing frisbee I found a rusty nail on the ground. Running around barefoot you can imagine I was quite glad to have seen the nail instead of having it find its way into my foot. I didn't think very much about it at first, I mean it was just a rusty old nail that had fallen out of truck or a trash can and ended up on the ground left and forgotten.
This is where the analogies begin.
A year ago last Wednesday I was committed to a mental hospital for suicidal ideation or intent to commit suicide. I wasn't in good places. Much like the nail I was feeling lost and forgotten. I had fallen off the truck and nobody seemed to notice. You see the problem with being a hermit is you forget to reach out to people and let them know you need help. That Wednesday night I finally reached out. I was done battling this war inside of me that I knew I wouldn't win alone. I was very intentional to include Wesley throughout the process of going to the hospital. It wasn't easy opening up to a community, it was uncomfortable, but it had to be done. I needed them to see what life with mental illness looked like; I needed to show them because that was the only way they were ever going to be able to help. I missed Spring Break last year because I was in the hospital, I wrote a blog last year from the hospital and sent it to Jessica so that I could be included. The response I received from Wesley that week was overwhelming in the best kind of way! One night, in the hospital before they departed for Charleston, SC, about 40 of them came to see me! I was greeted with hugs, stories, gifts, and above all love! I was heart-broken to not be with them on their trip, but happy to receive daily updates from lots of them.
So, I know you're thinking, we literally talked about a nail for like .5 seconds and none of the rest of this has anything to do with rusty nails. Well, let's talk about nails then (I see enough of them on the worksite everyday).
After careful thought I've decided a better description of me would be something like a rusty, bent up nail.
You see, like the nail I once was shiny and new. I was packaged in my box or bucket, ready to be used, ready to have a purpose. Nails are used in all kinds of projects: home repair, furniture, shoeing horses, those crafty things you pin on Pinterest and so much more, surely there must be some job I was needed for! Maybe for awhile I was used for a job. Maybe I was used for my talents, for filling some void in someone's life. Maybe I was used for what resources I have. But whatever I was used for, I ended up getting thrown away. I ended up not being the right fit for the job. Somewhere in that not fitting and getting thrown away I was bent. I became rusted; covered with scars and bruises of my past. I fell off of the truck with the inability to get back on. It was a task that I couldn't do on my own. I needed someone to find me and put me back on the truck. I found that someone. Actually, I found a lot of those someones. I found a group of people who finds a rusty nail, but sees something that is so much more. You see, a rusty and bent nail can be bent back and the rust can be sanded off, or as my rusty nail was it can be picked up and cherished for what it has been shaped into. The people in Wesley didn't try to "fix" me, though if they could have taken my load away I don't doubt they would, instead they picked me up off of the ground and saw meaning within all the bumps and bruises. They found value in me, not for how strong I was or how well I could hold things together, but just because I was me and that was enough. My community is by no means perfect, but they do their best to love and value me and I couldn't ask for anything else!
One of my dearest friends and mentors, tells me all the time that my worth is not defined by what I can do or what I can provide but simply who I am, love is not something we earn it's something we're given. Friends, you don't need to earn people's love, though sometimes it may feel like it, simply being yourself, being that rusty and bent up old nail, IS enough! Who knows when someone is going to come by and find safety and meaning in your story. Whatever your story may be, whatever rust you are covered in, you are not alone!
This Spring Break, I am not trying to be anything more than I am, but rather I am trying to embrace who I am and truly value others for who they are. This Spring Break I am trusting in God and those he surrounds me with. This Spring Break I am embracing my rust and using the wisdom from the trials that caused it. This Spring Break I am screaming from the mountains (small bumps, there aren't any mountains here in Tuskegee) that I am enough, rust, bends and all!