a spiritual confession in the middle of the journey
I’m not sure where to begin. I’ve passed you by so many times. I’ve noticed you, felt your presence, heard perhaps an echo of your voice whisper through my soul. I saw you there when I needed you most. But perhaps I didn’t take your hand when you offered it out of love and grace. Turning my back was easier, leaving you in the shadows of my depression and perceived helplessness.
We met long ago, in the lake on a chilly afternoon. I held my breath and then you filled my lungs and brought me into a new light. I opened my eyes and saw you. You were everywhere, actually. In the crisp wind that nipped at my nose. In the clouds that danced across the sky. In the smiles of those who were proud I had found you. I could feel you holding me close and filling my soul with a burning passion and dreams I was yet too young to understand. But I knew I would grow into it. Together, you said. We would do it all together.
You didn’t say it would be hard, a relationship that took work and effort. Maybe I was simply too naive, sheltered from the realities of faith and doubts and skepticism. Each year created a distance between us of my own making.
I remember you standing there beside me when I heard him say going to college would only be a waste of my time. Wasn’t it useless when I’d only be home raising children? A history degree won’t teach me to be a wife. My heart filled with defiance. I felt you there, telling me he was wrong. But I didn’t let you comfort me or encourage me. I believed I was strong enough without you. I had to do this alone, I convinced myself; to prove he was wrong and I was meant for more. I had to be strong.
I remember you kneeling next to me while I wept tears of pain, flowing from a heart that believed she was ugly and unwanted. You brushed the tears from my cheeks and told me you loved me even before you created me. That every piece of me – from my pale skin to my unruly hair to my snarky spirit – was on purpose. But I didn’t hear you. I couldn’t, because I felt too broken to let your love and truth heal me that day and the many that came after. You knelt there still, for days on end, pouring your truth into my ears, patiently knowing one day I would be ready for their beauty.
I ignored your love letters, crafted over hundreds of years ago. I saw them and read them and even believed them, in a way. But I couldn’t imagine they were meant for me. For others, yes. I saw your spirit woven into every word, the pain and beauty that healed and saved and forgave every single time. I didn’t trust it. It was too lovely, a fragile grace I was sure would shatter between my fingertips. I made mistakes it couldn’t cover, had thoughts you couldn’t love. So I took in the powerful words, but didn’t keep them.
I turned you down when my friendships crumbled in my hands. I’d only ruin it, like all the others. Was there a poison in my love that destined me to be alone? That left empty destruction in my wake? I was too afraid, cloaked in cowardice. I thought if I could become accustomed to the loneliness I would survive. If I could just get used to talking to nothing and going without loving kindness, I could persevere. If I hardened my heart to the harshness of life, I would be okay. I refused to softened towards you, lest I break to pieces.
I locked you out of my small, lonely Vegas apartment. You stood on the doorstep, waiting for me to ask you in. You may have knocked on the evenings when the darkness threatened to pull me under, but I rendered myself immobile with my doubts. I caught glimpses of you, shy glances from the corner of my eye. But I couldn’t approach you. I had forgotten how. How to come to you and ask for help. How to lay down the fears and struggles and burdens at your feet in humility. How to open my heart to you. Part of me believed what they all said; the scornful disbelief in your love and existence. The emptiness inside, a growing despair, was a false proof.
But you must have kept me company some nights when Depression took its leave. I’m alive today, still breathing and walking and wondering, and I know that is because of you. You cradled me when I would have given up. You said you loved me when my heart had begun to turn to ice. You said that I could overcome, because you made me strong for moments like these when the world would be unkind and cut me deep and write its lies on my skin. You never left. On the floor of my shower, the water swirling down the drain, mixed with salty tears, you whispered “I can heal your heart and save your soul.” I heard you hesitantly, but not distrustfully. “Follow me.”
I searched for you in Nashville. A strange place that I believed might hold a future with you. Around every corner, I sought your face. Just a hint that you were there with me. Had I made another mistake? A selfish wish cloaked in imagined obedience? Had I deluded myself into believing you there with me in Vegas, telling me things would be okay?
Or perhaps I wasn’t ready. Still not ready. Perhaps the introduction would have been uncomfortable, strained, forced. Perhaps there was some growing and searching left for me to do, lies I needed to discover and lose before I could believe.
But you hadn’t abandoned me or forsaken me. You gave me back my words and let them heal me. Because you knew my heart and soul, and you knew, more than I ever did, that what I needed was to write myself back together. The pain and struggles and frustration and hope became the ink of my story. And I began to tell it from the middle. A messy, unfinished middle that foreshadowed mistakes and happiness. You gave me a voice and let me roar.
Because you knew I’d need those words in the coming months. You knew they would keep me strong when nothing else would. You knew they would save me from shame. You saved me over and over because I was Beloved and you knew that someday I would believe it with my entire being.
Today is someday. And I am ready. And I believe. I can feel that passion you gave me all those years ago racing across my skin and lingering my fingertips, ready to be shared with a world that needs to see you. Because when I look back at everything, at the good and bad, the lies and pain, the tragic nights and hopeful days, you’re always there. Never absent, never hiding; my anchor and guiding star. You brought me here, despite my resistance, the master author of my story, and you gave me back my smile and thawed my heart. You crowned me with Love and Beauty and filled me with Grace and Hope. But mostly, you forgave me for every time I walked past you. For every missed connection that broke you just as it broke me.
So no longer will we be two ships passing in the stormy night. Instead, I’m dropping my anchor beside you and taking your ever proffered hand and stepping with faith into the life you created me for from the beginning. And as I stand beside you and look back over my story so far, I’m no longer afraid of storms, because you have taught me how to sail my ship.