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the long way home (part 1)

Hello, journal.

It’s been a long time and I’m dreadfully sorry about that. I wish I were stronger. I wish I had the tenacity in which I so often admire in others.

But here we are. What’s done is yesterday’s memory and the people in suits tell me, “Look at your progress… give yourself credit.” To which I reply, shaking my head, “But look at the road ahead yet.” And aren’t we as humans like that; so often we fail to see the smallest successes because the failures cast even larger shadows.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s go back a year ago, a day when I woke and learned everyone has their tipping point. When life veers chaotically to the left and you grip white knuckled to all the absolutes in your life and one by one, even those are ripped from your grasp.

Then one day you wake in the morning and it’s night outside and it’s always night outside despite the hands on the clock and you find yourself pacing, caged, up and down the windows looking east, praying for the sun to rise because aren’t His mercies supposed to be new every morning?

But the darkness remains.

Maybe, when this happens to you, you turn to God. Maybe you turn to drugs. Or alcohol. Or negative thoughts. Or eating. Or a million other unnamed vices.

For me, my unending night happened over a year ago and I turned inward, away from everyone and everything. It’s a story all it’s own and I hope to share it with you in pieces the best I remember but so often when everything goes wrong, our minds block out, shut down.

I became an existence of pain, an unrelenting sorrow masked with a plastic smile and jokes I didn’t feel but told anyway to conquer the silence in my head. And at night, I’d lie down, start sorting through all the chaos in my mind, all the madness in my heart.

So all I remember are glimpses, sitting in my car after that initial doctor’s appointment, my head bent low over the steering wheel, sorrow dripping and I remember thinking my tears were all I had left of myself and even these were being taken from me.

But I turned the key and drove home, unaware of the road.

Pulling into the driveway, I knelt in the foyer, head buried in the soft fur of my dogs and they knocked me over in all their love and I cried and dug my hands into the scruffs of their necks even deeper and I’ve learned since then, God’s love does this: it shows up in odd ways and knocks us over, as if bending our will a little lower to remind us that here is where the hem of Jesus is found.

“I’ll be alright, God. I’ll be alright, won’t I?” I murmur.

I get up, walk to the windows and it’s still night outside, even at four in the afternoon.

So I go to bed.

Like I said, this isn’t a short story. I have over a year of healing to share with you. Did you hear that? I wrote “healing”. The men in suits say you can never be healed, you can only learn to live a different life. So you swallow their bitter pills and nod and in the back of your head, you know this: Healing hurts. It took a man dying on a cross to give hope to a broken world filled with broken people. And now, more than ever, I’m convinced, I’m among these broken people. So I cling to hope. White-knuckled, I cling.

A tiny yellow bird burps its cheerful notes. A squirrel darts up a tree. Ervin, my goldendoodle, huffs at it lazily from the window. And through this window, I see, hope. Rising bold in the eastern sky, a thousand mercies new for the day ahead.

(Lamentations 3:22–23)