By Laura Pruneau: The idea that I am worthy of grace simply because I’m alive is foreign to me.  Yet it’s what I’m coming to understand more and more each day.  Inside me is a kid who was hurting, a teen who questioned too much, a young adult who explored and got lost, and ultimately a human being in need of grace and forgiveness.

My life has had good times, and bad times, and really bad times. The value of my life, to others and to God, never made sense to me.  I wasn’t suicidal, but I also didn’t care if I lived or died.

One day, I realized the need for tangible help.  I visited a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  I did not like – nor want – this diagnosis.  And yet, there it was.  I learned to cling to it. It explained why things were how they were.  It became who I was.

But, it wasn’t me.  It was a diagnosis.  A shoe size.  A hair color.  A condition.  But not me.

I finally came to realize that no diagnosis would define me.  It may be a part of who I am, but it is not all I am.  God's grace and love defines me more than a disorder ever will.

With the help of people who let me know I mattered, I was able to see hope - one day (or hour) at a time.  And today, when it sometimes feels like my heart is breaking into a thousand little pieces, I listen to the message and words of hope and I truly know that my life matters.  God’s grace is sufficient to reach even me.

To anyone else who is hurting – please know that there IS hope. Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever be labeled.  You are important, and you matter.  You are not a past.  You are not a reputation.  You are not a diagnosis.

You’re a child of God.

And you are a Person of the Second Chance.

Photo: Divine Harvester