In the early 1980’s, I traveled the road that led from our home to the airport in the back seat of a baby-blue 70’s Plymouth sedan many times. My father traveled often and it seemed in my young mind that he was always leaving us. He was always leaving me. Those journeys were excruciatingly painful for me. I tried desperately each time to halt the river of tears that threatened to burst over my cheeks at the thought of his absence, but I was never successful. I was aware that my emotions were frustrating and I knew the chastisement, ridicule and frustration my overly sensitive response would generate once he was gone. I loathed those trips and the seeds of self-hatred that were sewn in my heart during that time.
After my father died in 2007, I began remembering things from my childhood that I had tucked away into the recesses of my mind. They are the sorts of memories that you re-visit over a fifth of vodka, or after taking a generous helping of prescribed medications. Somewhere between ingestion and oblivion lies the sweet spot, where one can glimpse memories too painful to view in the fullness of daylight and sobriety. It’s remarkable how my mind has hidden the dreams of my childhood and the once gentle sensitive spirit that lived inside me.
Hidden memories hide the sweetness of grief.
A few months after my father died, on a warm, sticky August night, I was alone in bed, hoping to slip into the blessed gift of sleep. Sleep has alluded me my entire life. My brain activity does not seem compatible with the relief sleep offers. That night, memories of distant song lyrics flooded my mind and hurled me back into the past, to those hated trips to and from the airport. I’d heard this particular song on each excruciating trip home after leaving my father at the airport. It was just there, floating through the air somewhere between the memories of Paul Harvey’s stern voice and my mother eating pieces of buttered toast in the car as she drove us home. Angel of the Morning. That was the song. I desperately wanted the memory to evaporate. Yet, those lyrics, the few I remembered, played over and over and over again in my head.
The recollection brought me to tears-heaving, gut wrenching, deep, grief induced sadness that produced a flood of tears so great that I wondered, as an adult, what might happen should I never stop crying? How long, God?
That episode began one of the most profound conversations of my life. I wondered, as I pondered the sweet relief that might come from self-induced death, who is my glue? My father…my dad….my ‘Darge’, was gone. He was the only person I knew who seemed to understand the torture that existed inside of me. He was the glue that always seemed to hold me together. I was 34 years old, more lost than I’d ever been, and my savior was dead.
Did I idolize my father? Yes. Was I unaware I had made my father my god? Yes.
There is an unbelievably amazing beauty that arises from within a broken soul.
That night, as I sobbed and waged war on my reality, as I lay lost and in despair, I was embraced, literally, by Jesus Christ. I felt the warmth and love of His arms. The hold was in many ways like the embrace of my dad, but so much more complete. There was no question that Jesus was present in that room, in that moment, with me. There are no words I can find to adequately express that experience. I knew I was loved and that the process of being re-built had begun.
I don’t describe this as “the moment I was saved” or “the night I was born again”. I do however, view that night as a beautiful picture of Christ’s faithfulness to me. To ME. What other response can one have to such an experience of grace and mercy except, surrender? Repentance? Faithfulness? The God of the universe physically embraced me. ME. It’s astonishing. I don’t deserve it. Because of Jesus Christ, I have it~Glue for my soul and new construction on my heart. I am blessed. Regardless of all of my worldly struggles, I am a blessed woman.
It’s normal, I think, for people to go through periods of loneliness throughout their lives. Sometimes those periods of loneliness can span months, maybe years even….perhaps turning into a pervasive, lasting depression.
I am alone. I have known since I Have been able to think cognitively that my earthly path is one of solitude. I am convicted of this. Not complaining. Convicted. Countless people throughout the years have tried to negate this reality in my life. I know what I know. I have my family, of course, and my friends….all of whom I love very much. But there are things inside of me that break when I am yoked to anything other than my Savior. Sin calls me. The flesh calls me. My strongest partnership must be with Christ.
I believe I need fellowship with other Believers and I believe I have a responsibility to participate in the Body. I crave that. I want honest, heart-filled and spirit-led discussion of the Word of God. I sometimes wonder if my expectations are too high and if my lack of tolerance for a watered down version of the Cross hinders my ability to take part fully in the Body.
However, it was not a watered down version of the Cross of Christ that saved me. It was Jesus, beaten, hanging, and bearing the wrath of the Father, for me. Because of me. Because of my sin. There are days when I need to really look at that….really sit in that reality and just know it. Absorb it. Acknowledge the reality that I put Him there. I did that. We did that.
Something happens inside of your heart when you bend the knee of your own self-will in submission to God. You change. You can’t help it. It’s the kind of change that flickers at first, but then burns so strongly that you can barely contain your new-found freedom and you become in a sense as reckless as Peter was with his sword, in cutting of the high priest’s servant’s ear. I can relate to Peter. Once I began to realize who God is, really realize this is the God who saves, I was reckless, immature, and ridiculously faltering in my steps. I still am and I recognize the need to grow in maturity and love as I continue this walk.
I try not to ask the same questions of Him as much as I did several years ago. My desire for Him and His plan for my life continues to grow and as it does, I can see the Spirit’s movement in my life. He knew my name when I was sitting in the back of that Plymouth on the road to the airport in 1980. He held my hand and kept me from sinking into the deep mire of my addiction. He was there when I begged for a father. He’s with me now, as, with great mercy and grace, He guides me as I stumble and fall in my attempt to follow Him.
Slowly, by His grace, my soul finds rest in Him .