On Tuesday, while I was visiting Brad at his office, one of his colleagues asked me how long we’d been married.
“13 years,” I told her.
She shuddered. Like a full-on, pain-body shake. A co-worker walking by shook her head at me in disapproval, and said, “Ohhhh. She doesn’t do 13 well.”
I waited a second to see if they were joking. Nope. Dead serious.
The first woman launched into a monologue about the number 13. How it’s connected to things in her life she can’t speak about but caused her trauma. How there’s nothing good about 13. How just that morning, on Election Day, she had arrived at her polling place and found that her name was the 13th on the page: a sure sign, she said, that her day was doomed. And then I had to go and mention my 13 years of marriage. Lucky for me, her phone rang – and I made a quick and quiet getaway.
But she stayed in my head all day. Her story sounded familiar, struck a nerve. Why? Because I’ve stood in her shoes before. I’ve given power to things and thoughts and even numbers that really had no business controlling my happiness. I’ve cursed a date on the calendar for bringing bad luck or bad memories my way. I’ve bought into superstitious silliness, panicking a little over a broken mirror or spilled salt or a black cat in the road. I’ve let rumors and half-truths slaughter my confidence. Maybe not to the degree that this woman has let the number 13 hold her hostage in her own life – but it doesn’t really matter how much or how often I’ve let anything or anyone hold power over me. Just the reminder that I have is enough.
No one is unlucky, unworthy or unheard without choosing, somewhere deep down, to label themselves that way, to wrap themselves up in that blanket of drama. When we stop believing our own stories about the things or people or places that still haunt or hurt us, we reclaim our God-given power to shine bright and be more. Let’s choose that.