Something I said online the other day has been proven untrue. I said that my life wouldn’t change due to what I’ve learned recently. But my life has changed. Change like this happens, for example, when you almost die in front of your spouse.

The picture to the right was taken a couple of minutes after I came close to falling off of the sea wall at Sullivan’s Island Beach in South Carolina. It was slippery and I had lost my footing. Had I fallen, I would’ve cracked my skull square on a rock jutting out of the water 6 feet below.

I’ve walked away from too many situations that should’ve killed me. I tend to learn something every time, although it’s never the obvious. This instance was no different. What I learned out on the sea wall that evening is that my best self is not circumstantial.

“What?!” you cry. “That’s the lesson you learned?”

Yes, yes it is. Hear me out.

Before that fateful moment on Sullivan’s Island, my wife and I had spent earlier in the day strolling around Charleston. As we took in all of the history, architecture, and charm, my mind slowly drifted into this one thought: if I lived in Charleston, I could be my best self.

Why Charleston? Charleston is my favorite town in the world. I’ve visited numerous places, but my heart is drawn to this one. It’s the whole area, really. What for is for another time. Suffice it to say, the town inspires me to no end. Every time I visit I’m flooded with fresh ideas. Unfortunately, I let the delusion of productive grandeur blind me to the reality of what I was telling myself. When I was thinking I could be my best self in Charleston, I was telling myself that Charleston was the only place my best self could exist. But this wasn’t true, not by a long shot.

Being my best self has nothing to do with where I live. It doesn’t have anything to do with who I surround myself with. My best self isn’t even defined by me! And yet I had the gall to think that a place – a physical, changeable, corruptible, temporary location – could bring out the best in me? That’s asinine, my friend.

The worst part is that I let this thought-process simmer in the back of my mind all day, keeping me from appreciating the gift of time in my favorite town with my wife. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the day, but I could’ve enjoyed it more.

The event on the sea wall woke me up to all of this.

We wanted to take an adventure and experience something natural and beautiful after the all-day bustle in a concrete jungle. I was distracted by my delusions, though, which is why I almost died.

I understand I’m being a little dramatic, but death is a reality. If I had died, I would’ve done so in a terrible way right before my wife’s very eyes. I would’ve died thinking life would be better if life was different. I would’ve died being selfish.

Thankfully, God spared me, yet again.

In God’s salvation on that wall, I learned an important lesson:

My best self is not dependent on where I am, it’s all about who I am, where ever I am, for the I Am.

Who I am is a child of God. I am a child of God where ever I am. A child of God is my best self. I don’t even have a self without Him! I have no life, no wife, no Charleston, no sick dance moves, no anything…without I Am.

My best self only matters as it relates to the I Am. Who I should’ve been in that moment when I lost my footing was a husband with his wife, enjoying their Savior’s creation. I may become distracted from who I am for the I Am again, but not anytime soon.

As for my wife, well, she remembered that adventures with me have the potential to become much more “adventurous” than anticipated. What can I say? I keep her on her toes.

About Alan V. Nelson

Alan V. Nelson is a writer living in North Carolina. Through the use of fiction and non-fiction, his mission is to encourage hope and healing in others. When he isn't writing, reading, taking pictures, or on a long walk, he can be found enjoying good chai and conversation at a local coffee shop. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram @alanvnelson

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