How far we’ve come. Looking behind reminds us of that – like the altars built to remember the pain and death and sacrifice. We keep the altars to remind us of the words – we will live and not die. It’s not enough to simply not die. It’s not enough to just keep our heads above the stormy waters, waves crashing on our heads, the sky angry and threatening. Yet that’s where we are found from time to time, gasping for breath between the berating waves. How alone we feel out there fighting for each life sustaining inhale, yet we are not alone.
These are pretty words on a page that don’t hold much weight in the middle of the tempest.
I’ve screamed to the sky, fists balled up, tears unrelenting – “YOU HAVE TO SHOW UP!!!” On repeat, I’ve begged God to show up for me in that place. Sitting in my car, sobbing for break through, under my covers unable to make the choice to get out of bed, in the quiet of the morning the birds continuing to sing like nothing in the whole world could be wrong enough to feel the way I feel. In those times it’s like screaming into the wind, my voice lost as it escapes my lips – yet, somehow I remain. Death, loss, bitter disappointment, terror, floating out into nothingness untethered from what once held my feet to the ground, I’ve waited in utter hopelessness for a miracle.
My sister laid in the hospital bed in her bedroom, unable to walk, the morphine clouding her eyes and mind, she leveled her eyes at our father and pointed fiercely to the door – “Go get my miracle! Go get my miracle!” Yet no miracle came. She was dying, the inevitable soon-to-be-reality mocking us all. And me, in my bed staring at the wall, not knowing how to break out of the pain and trauma of a life that I was living that had somehow become so twisted in on itself I couldn’t see anything but death in front of me. Yet I was not dying. But I was not living either.
You will live and not die.
But what I have learned is that this truth is nestled deep down in our choice. I lived most of my life believing I did not get to choose. I had come to believe that things just happened, and we did our best to just navigate it, being tossed here and there as the waves willed. I had translated finding “the will of God” as some elusive thing I just had to reach and grab for, hoping I was hearing correctly, desperately trying not to miss Him and end up in ruins. But watching my sister die, watching her lose her choices, brought me face to face with the reality that I did, in fact, get to choose. We all do — whether we understand that our lives are a product of our choices or not.
Right now I am in a place of more peace than I’ve been in a long, long time. I made some choices that brought me out of the crushing anxiety I was living in and I know I am safe and loved. The things I have chosen to get here? Things I believed would utterly burn my whole world down. But as I looked at the facts on the ground I realized that to save my sanity, my mental and emotional health, in order to let my body rest and recover, I had to do what I always said I would never do. But in making those choices, I was choosing to live. And I’m learning to trust myself, probably for the first time in my life. I trust that I can see and discern correctly. I trust that my body is telling me when something is not ok and I need to pay attention. I trust that all these years of walking with God have brought me a measure of wisdom and certainty that I can hold on to and not be afraid of moving forward into what will bring life – not just for me, but for those I love. And peace that passes understanding is indeed guarding my heart and mind.
Yesterday I cried a lot. I felt alone and afraid that I couldn’t take care of myself (like I’ve been told all my life I couldn’t do). That fear and all of the unknown in front of me made me want to grab for something certain, to “do something” to make sure I was really going to be ok. But after a day of grabbing for a sense of control, I sat in the sunshine this morning with my coffee and I heard the Lord tell me to wait. That I didn’t have to try and push anything into being to make sure I was taken care of. Because I am already safe, I am already loved, and I don’t have to grasp for what I already have. So I will wait – and hold my peace. And today that is what it looks like to live and not die. To really live in wide open wonder and peace, believing that if I will trust, I will walk into a more alive living than I’ve ever known. Sometimes the answer is in the waiting and taking the steps forward as they come, no matter how desperately we wish everything would just hurry up and look right again.
So until next time my friends, you are safe and you are loved. Be brave, feel the feels, and let’s choose to live the most alive we’ve ever known.