If I were to be honest I would say that sometimes I find this question annoying. But recently the question was put to me and at this point the analogy that comes to mind in remembering the conversation is that of someone throwing a life preserver to a person in an ocean just trying to keep their head above water. I'm not one to cry in front of people if I can help it. If I feel as if I'm going to lose control of my emotions I seek privacy. But occasionally, I am too broken and it is unavoidable and incredibly necessary to lose control. This was one of those occasions.
"I just want to sleep." I blubbered like a baby as my voice barely held up to get the words out.
"But I don't know. Maybe not sleeping is better because not sleeping means not dreaming" I countered myself.
Have you ever been there? When the crickets are chirping, the lights are out and it feels like the world is one collective snore, but you're laying there, reminded of the caffeinated espresso owl in that Facebook meme.You know the one...
And in the quiet of the night, all the memories you've been able to set aside come rushing back like a flood and you find yourself drowning in the torrential onslaught of emotions you've been so carefully avoiding?
Dust settling, overturned vehicle. It took a moment for the scene in front of me to register. The pressing urgency within to assist in whatever way necessary. The agonizing wait, and longest traffic signal stop of my life. Pulling off to the side of the road. My family member's voice echoing in my head "I can't go. I'm staying here." as I turned on my hazards, grabbed my phone, jumped out of my truck and ran, with the sinking realization that the still form lying in the street was that of a man... the growing pool of blood, things I don't want to describe.
It all came back... still rushes back, though it was over a month ago... both clear as day yet somehow all a blur at the same time as some things stand out in my head but others I feel I should remember fade into background noise. What I've simply come to refer to as "The Accident" still comes to mind daily. It still breaks my heart. I still wonder, and doubt, and question, and struggle. One big relief is that I'm okay with that struggle now.
And I want you to know, that if you are there too, it is okay.
You see, something God showed me awhile back that I'm understanding more everyday is that faith grows in the midst of trial. It is the very essence of what faith is. If faith requires no surrender to the Known in the midst of the unknown, is that really faith?
I don't understand why I'm alive instead of the man who lost his life that day. I know Jesus as my Savior and the love of my life and I am "ready to die." Not to be mistaken or confused with the desire to die, but I am okay with dying.
The man who from all appearances did not know the Lord passed away instead of me, before my eyes, when a few seconds made all the difference between him being in that accident instead of me. I don't understand why I pray–why I prayed–because the concept of God's sovereignty is one that seems to elude my understanding. But I know and knew then that it is beyond me to determine these things. I must simply be willing to say yes to that which the Lord asks of me, and in that moment, all I could do was pray. I prayed, I told that man that if he could hear me it wasn't too late to call on the name of Jesus. I asked for a miracle that day. I still wonder if the answer to my question was really "yes" even though it appeared to be "no." Because the greater miracle would not have been the sparing of his physical life, but that of his soul. I take some comfort in that, whether founded or unfounded I'm not sure.
I DON'T UNDERSTAND!
And that's OKAY. If you don't understand, that's okay too. I want to hold your hand in this, be the person unafraid to wrap their arms around you. "It's OKAY to cry." was also probably one of the most thoughtful, heartfelt statements expressed to me during the days immediately following The Accident, and I want to pass that liberating sentiment on to you. It's okay to NOT be okay with the pain you experience and to struggle deeply. Personally, I think it is healthy. It is a reminder that you're still a living, breathing soul who loves deeply and feels passionately. If we were meant to be unaffected by pain or grief, we'd be stones. Grief is such a complicated thing. There will be times of great happiness–don't feel guilty or obligated to end those moments. There will be times of immense sadness–that's okay too! Struggle is so painful but there is not a single struggle in my life that I have endured and now regret. It is part of what makes us who we are. It's the hug for your neighbor. The tears shared with a friend. The grace extended to the broken. Our struggles are what makes us stronger, more compassionate, more loving, more graceful.
And the most beautiful part of it all is the presence. The peace He brings, the calm, the hope, the strength, the love, but most of all Himself. All else is secondary, He offers me Himself.