Thursday, May 15, 2014

Banishing Darkness

I look around me, and I am surrounded with such every day, ordinary beauty.  A bright and cheery yellow house greets me when I pull into the driveway, a fluffball of eager, happily peeing fur awaiting my arrival as if I am a rock star.  A husband who treasures his wife and is willing to do just about anything in the entire world to provide for his family, who also has just a wee bit of "Girlfriend" in him which is what drew me to him in the first place...he can yack for hours about all sorts of things, and could care less about sports.  He has walked me through some awful stuff, the hard things an authentic life is made of.

There are the stairstep souls who sit before me each morning, so filled to the brim with hopeful anticipation about life in general, so genuinely kind to all they meet. Laughing, they start their day reading the news, sharing stories big and small.  They drape their arms around my shoulders in casual acceptance not often seen between mother and teen children, and I soak up every single moment of it.  We challenge one another...me challenging them to think more deeply, them challenging me to think differently about each one of them.  They are as individual as the stars in the constellations, not a one really alike in any way, other than in their courage and warmth.  They have strong wills, minds of their own, and they make my heart sing every single day, without fail.  My days are never boring, though many would find them to be.  That alone was an answer to a long ago uttered prayer, "Please God, let my life be interesting...whether it is to others or not, please let me experience things that are rich and full, help me to see the beauty in the ordinary."

Prayer answered.

An email from a friend traveling overseas, sharing her experience on the Great Wall and a private little note later. Role models surround me at every turn, encouraging me, hearing me, validating me, accepting me with all my very obvious flaws.  A Facebook message from a virtual friend with a suggestion for one of the kids, a Mother's Day card from a "sister" who is childless herself and older than I yet who comes alongside often.  A much needed session filled with laughter and  chatter about nothing much, and yet somehow about everything.  A special softness offered by another, reaching out through shared magazines and clippings from newspapers which touches my very depths...I was thought of when not around, I was cared for enough to make the effort.   Another elevates me every.single.time, making me feel worthy, equal, and smart and all sorts of other not-so-earned emotions.

I have yet to figure out why so many people of such kindness and quality have elected to love me.  It is not the sort of thing often spoken of, and it will be my life's greatest mystery.  I am nothing...a true nobody, and yet there they are, holding my hand, in it for the long haul.  I may never understand why they have made the choice to reach into my life so gently and firmly, but I will forever be grateful.

There was a time in my life when I was so desperately alone, so lacking in true human companionship.  Oh, there were acquaintances and casual friendly relationships, but there was always something missing...no depth, no "call me anytime day or night" person.  The surface may have been explored ad infinitum, but the dark and murky depths were left undisturbed, for it was too hard to grab a hand and invite to visit the real me in the darkness...it would take too much explanation, and what was there was something that might suck you in and devour you in its ugliness and lack of trust.

Somewhere along the way, God reached out to me in the form of many caring, loving people.  It allowed me to don the scuba gear and plunge into the darkness with many someone else's, each of whom helped illuminate the pitch black corners of my soul. They lifted me up, sometimes sharing life giving oxygen, until I made it to the surface and found the goodness that is life, and was able to drink it all in.

Tonight, as I sat with our small a capella women's choir at church, we sang one of the pieces of music that never, ever fails to bring tears to my eyes, for it reminds me of where I came from, and where I don't ever have to live anymore.  Last night's post was filled with the things that are heavy on my heart, and there are several, including a couple I prefer not to mention. The difference in my life today versus what it would be like 20 years ago is that, though it might be a very heavy load God has asked me to carry sometimes, I no longer have to do it all by myself.  As evidenced recently with the crisis with my mom, all I needed to do was reach out...and there were so many compassionate and loving people by my side.  I had never learned how to reach out, how to trust that others might be able to be God to me, in the flesh, and help me carry the load.  It takes being willing to be seen as vulnerable, and surely weak, by others.  But I have experienced the most when at my weakest, for God always, always joins me there somehow.  I have also been overwhelmingly blessed to be God to others during their difficult times, something that humbles me every time someone reaches out for me.

Everyone has a different image and understanding of God in their mind.  Sometimes God becomes the good in the world we have experienced, other times God becomes all that we ever hoped for but never quite stumbled upon. Whichever it is, the Spirit visits us in ways we can understand and recognize, and it changes us...permanently.  I could never, ever again walk through the world as I used to.  Jesus saved me, and continues to save me over and over again, every single day.  What I have learned as a follower of Jesus, is that light exists, and it is there for the taking if only I will let go of my fear of leaving the darkness.  My friends have all taught me that, as they put into practice what they too have learned through the years.

Life might be hard right now, it might be scary, feel insecure, and leave me with more questions than answers.  But there is such goodness all around me, blanketing me so that any blows are somewhat cushioned.  We are never alone...we are never alone...unless we want to push aside that which is just waiting for us to grab hold of.


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