Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do I Really Have to Ask?

I read this post tonight and it set off a firestorm of emotion inside me as posts like this often do. First comes regret that's so powerful it makes me feel like I've just been kicked in the stomach. On the heels of that I usually feel deeply sad for awhile. And if I let the cycle continue I start to get angry and ask "why, God, couldn't I have heard this advice when it might have done some good?". You see, this wonderful advice comes too late for my children who are 25 and 23 years old. Don't misunderstand; my kids are wonderful people. Nor do I believe that my influence on them, now and in the future, is immaterial. Unfortunately they seem destined to follow the same path I had to follow before I found my way to the Light.

Almost nine years ago in October of 1999, just before I met Jesus, I reached the end of my proverbial rope. I didn't think I wanted to live anymore. Things within my family had become unendurable. My relationship with my daughter had completely disintegrated. I'd lost her to drinking, drug using, violent "friends" who completely usurped my influence with her. You might think I'm exaggerating but it's true. For weeks, months really, I had been living in a constant state of fear. Sometimes it was fear that I could live with and still function. Other times it was overpowering. Near the end, after my husband would leave for work, I locked myself inside my bedroom and stayed there until he came home. I was afraid for her but I was also afraid of her. Physically afraid of her and the people she'd become involved with. I didn't realize how sick I was.

One night I reached a point of mental and physical exhaustion. I hadn't slept more than a few hours at a stretch in weeks. I decided that I simply couldn't go on. I had a handful of pills that I knew would kill me if I swallowed them. I felt bad that I'd be leaving my husband alone with this mess but my irrational thought was that maybe, if I was gone, my daughter might straighten out her life. Really, I felt that everything that was wrong was all my fault. I sat and stared at those pills for a very long time, wanting to go through with it but afraid. Finally I spoke these words: "God, please help me". I'd said those words before. If asked I would even have said I believed in God but I had never opened my heart enough to experience who He is. Not until that night. But that night my heart, so badly mangled, cracked open enough to let Him in.

It's nearly impossible to describe with words the very tangible presence of God. I'd never felt anything like it before that night and never so powerfully since. I felt arms come around me, enfold me. So strong was the sensation that, confused, I looked to where my husband lay sleeping on our bed. I thought he'd gotten up without me noticing and that he was holding me. It was in that moment that I knew and felt peace rush through me. The feeling was so foreign and such an intense relief that I began to cry silently. I stood up and walked to my bed over the pills I'd dropped without realizing. I laid down and fell asleep almost instantly and slept, long and deep.

That was the start of the amazing journey on which I find myself. Things didn't magically become perfect afterwards. The two years that followed were intensely painful but, at the same time, full of wonder and discovery. The difference was that I wasn't afraid anymore. I had found a solid place to plant my feet and a direction to follow that was clearly defined for me, week after week, by the teachers at Granger Community Church. Soon after, I discovered that the Bible was a great source of information too and I began to read it with eyes that saw everything new.

So, when I read posts like Tim's, it seems I still have much to process through but I've also come to the understanding that this is His plan for my life and for my children's lives. Would I feel this amazing gratitude and joy for the life I have if I hadn't experienced all the pain? Would I be a "casual Christian", just going through the motions of faith, without that incredible "before and after?" Or would I have any relationship with Him at all without that crack in my heart? Would anything less than total devastation have caused me to realize how much I need Him?

Do I really have to ask?