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Hope on a Sleepless Night

Often, when I’m laying in bed on a sleepless night, I can recall with perfect memory what those first few nights after my grandma died felt like. I rememeber lying in bed with my eyes opened wided and trying to squeeze them shut hard and feeling nothing at all. But, not the kind of nothing that a blank page might feel, no that holds too much creative, birthing possibility. It’s the kind of nothing that an empty room feels after a fight. It’s the kind of nothing hands feel after something has been snatched from them. It’s the kind of nothing that is anything but. It’s heavy like Texas summer air and it’s nothingness is what makes it so full. My eyes would lose focus while staring at my wall, ceiling, window, door. There was a certain dread, expectancy. My heart would skip a beat everytime I’d pass her name scrolling through my phone book. It was like life went on, but I had ear muffs and walked half as fast as everyone else. Everything was muffled. Slowed.

The last days at the hospital, the wake, the funeral, those weren’t the bad days. Something like sheer nerve that only comes out when you have nothing else in you got me through those days. Hell, I even laughed, a crude Jones woman trademark…to laugh when all else fails. It was the days that followed, as I came back to college, walked the same path I had walked for a year and a half from my dorm to class, to the student center, to the library, those were the moments that felt impossible. The hugs, the words of comfort, the somber smiles that greeted me on those treks seemed to fall beside me, and then, in my sleepless nights weigh against me. I seemed to always feel either pressing at the edge of my skin or suffocating, and usually both.

Of course all of that was just a silent prelude to when I would learn to speak again. That was terrifying, but when I said it out loud…that was something else entirely. I remember sitting in one of my best friends car. Driving down 119th street until it ended as I would continue to do many, many times. I looked straight ahead and came out with my confession, the words I had been thinking of for days.

“I don’t think I’m a Christian anymore.”

My friend just waited, knowing there was more to it than just that. I continued on, explaining that I hadn’t stopped believing in God, but being a Christian was more than that. I had been a Christian since I was five, and just now in these weeks of losing my grandma did I suddenly find something missing. I just simply figured there must be more, I, however, didn’t have it. And I didn’t feel strong enough to find it.

No earth shattering revelation was made to me in that moment. I simply said something out loud and was met with a sort of deep understanding that there was something very wrong, but neither of us could really place it. In face, from there, I had no way of knowing how much longer that journey would last. How many more times I would find myself in the throes of confessions that were really just saying, something is very wrong and I feel too weak to stand up? How many times would I find myself crying and curled up in my bed with only the bunny my grandma gave me and the blanket my grammie made me for comfort? How many more times would I walk into church smiling and leave red hot angry and want to give up again? Countless. In fact, I still do sometimes. But, I’ve found that thing that was missing, the thing that comes out after sheer nerve is gone and keeps you still going.

So many brilliant minds have put it so many ways. Shane Koyczan said, “I’ve been through enought wretchedness to know some flowers still grow through the garabage.”

My friend, Eric, says, “In a world that promises rocks and dust, live like diamonds exsist.”

Mary Oliver paints it as a red bird who comes even in the winter, firing up the landscape.

The rest of us, just call it hope.

And as I find myself in this strange new place, where I sometimes have a good attitude, but often don’t, I cling to it. I choose not to just see myself as a 22 year old jobless college graduate living at home, but an obedient daughter of God who is gripping on to God’s goodness tightly as I sit waiting.

And when I can’t sleep at night and my mind wanders back to that time and I think, Oh God, I can’t live through that heartache again. Or as I curl up in a ball thinking of how my blanket and bunny are packed in storage still and so many relationships I’m in feel so broken, I hope. Because if anything, I’ve been through wretchedness. I’ve been in darkness. My heart’s been shattered. My soul has been shaken. I have fallen completely apart. But, great, beautiful flowers now grow in the cracks of myself that once seemed lost forever to me.

And that, dear ones, is the simple, deep, beautiful truth of hope.

http://www.incourage.me

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