So, something interesting happened to me this week:
To start, I am not going to reiterate everything that has happened to me this year, some people know and some don’t, but for the sake of only necessary background knowledge, believe me when I tell you that this year has been hell. I have been hurting and struggling in ways that are too deep for too long, and I am exhausted in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, I know my struggles are not over yet, and there is much I must still endure before the year is out; and worst of all, I see it coming, yet there is nothing I can do to avoid it. I am not okay, and I can’t remember the last time that I was.
So this week I have been having an especially hard time with a lot that I don’t care to go over in detail right now. But part of it was a great loneliness and a fear that when I go home for the holidays, it won’t feel like home, and the well of support that I had from there will be found dry. Due to recent events, I have kept many of my loved ones at a distance, and as a result of my past events, the friends I once had from home have fallen off my radar. One night, as I sat in my fear and pain, too tired for tears and just empty, a little red notification box popped up on my Facebook screen. I opened the email to find a message from a friend that I had not spoken to in many, many years.
This girl had been my first friend when I moved to Idaho. When I walked into my fifth grade class on the first day of school, a little late, and horrified by the sea of strange and unfamiliar faces that stared at me as I tried to get to an empty seat as fast as I could; she was the one I sat by. Within a minute, she had asked me who I was, and introduced herself. Within two minutes we were locker partners. And within three minutes we were best friends. Inseparable. That was, until high school. As we grew, we drifted apart, withdrawing into ourselves due to the situations in our lives that were pulling us in opposite directions. By the end of our freshman year, we were no longer speaking to one another, and we did not do so again for a very long time. This past summer though, I received an invite she extended to all of her Facebook friends, inviting them to attend her wedding reception. So I went, and in the midst of the blissful chaos that is a wedding reception, I only had the opportunity to speak to her briefly and congratulate her and her husband, whom I had never met, on their union. When I left, I wondered if I would ever see her again.
And yet, this week, in that moment of utter darkness, I received an email from her that said simply, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you lately. How are you?” Over the next few days, we messaged back and forth a great deal, catching up on lost time and filling in the gap of years that had divided our friendship. Within the conversation, she revealed to me that prior to messaging me, she had been simply listening to music and reading scripture when she got the strong, inexplicable feeling that she needed to contact me. Though we had not spoken in years, somehow she had suddenly been confronted with the feeling that something was wrong and needed to reach out to me.
And while I am glad she did, I still feel a little awkward because this is not the first time that someone has told me that they suddenly felt the inexplicable need to pray for me or to reach out to me. And often, it’s called a “God thing” or a “gift.” But thinking back, I can’t recall any instances in my own life where I can honestly say that I have felt anything like that; called to intervene on behalf of another. Yet, for some reason, apparently I am one of those who elicits that response from others; that I am in need of being reached out to. That God needs to use others in order to get a message through my thick skull. And that makes me a little self-conscious because I don’t want to be in need of that direct of intervention from God or my friends. I don’t want to be in need of help, but I know that I am.
I have been very stingy with my prayers lately because I have not felt that God has been hearing, and I certainly don’t feel as though He has been responding to the pain in my life; so the point of prayer has felt lost on me. I have lost a great deal of faith within the course of this year; mostly in people, and that has caused a loss in faith spiritually also. I’ve been jaded and cynical at best, and utterly hopeless at worst; and it’s been too long. As, naturally, somewhat of a loner, an introvert and someone who was raised to be self-sustaining and independent, and especially having just suffered the pain of heartbreak caused by others, I find that I don’t want help. I don’t want to be at the mercy of another person and have to endure the same sort of hurt I encountered before. But by renouncing my faith in people, thus I have cut myself off from that which has the power to hurt. However, with it, has been the hope of help; I don’t want to have to rely on others, but I need to. I’ve been in the dark, behind a vast stone wall; alone, for too long.
But this week, someone was able to poke a hole through that wall and let a little bit of light shine through. And that begun a series of similar instances throughout the course of the week; talking with a fellow Lighthouse cohort for hours enabled me to explore further that process of “opening up.” In another conversation, for the first time I allowed myself to admit to the fact that I need help and allowed myself to be convinced to make that happen. And lastly, it was the support of both these individuals as well as a few others who gave me the courage to finally act upon that long overdue help. The wall that I couldn’t even begin to chip away at suddenly began to crack. And within the course of one short week, those cracks began to show and let the light pour in again. Something I believed to exist only in the dust of my past was restored to life in a wholly unexpected way; resurrected. Returning home, again friendless, the same person who reached out to me the first time, did so again; and I do believe there is something poetic in that – something divine even. I rediscovered my community, and was able to converse with friends from Lighthouse in ways that I hadn’t been able to in a long while. I may not always be certain whether or not I believe that God exists in the form of a celestial being, but I KNOW that He exists in the form of the love, mercy, and support of community. I am so grateful to have such a community. Because that is what has saved me. Within minutes, a friendship had been restored, and with it, my faith in community. And if God is in relationship, then perhaps my faith in God has also been restored. Once humbled, each instance of relationship became a foothold, and from there, I begin the journey back; clawing my way out of the darkness.
I am coming home.