Sometimes, we might find ourselves standing inside of a prison cell, with the door wide open.
That would be where I have been for a while now. I've been standing in a prison cell, seeing the bars around me, and not even noticing the door standing open. There are a lot of reasons for this, more than I can share in one blog post. Past trauma, old thought patterns, new situations that feel familiar and signal the need to shield myself.
Jesus has been drawing me out into the open for years, now. Thirteen years, to be exact. When I first came out into the sun, it was blinding. So many years in hiding caused me to stumble and shield my eyes from this new dawn. I think I've spent thirteen years learning how to live in the light. Darkness was comfortable for a long time, and living in the light required a whole new me.
Shattered pieces of my life had to be picked up by those nail scarred hands and put together in a way that didn't erase the past, but refined it and turned it beautiful. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at once. Life suddenly was in technicolor. I went from being convinced that I didn't have much to offer, to a discovery of treasure. I spent those early years learning how to live in the freedom of these discoveries. And there came a point I realized I wanted to share this treasure with others. I wanted others to know that if they grabbed hold of the hem of Jesus' garment, they would find healing. I was building upon the things God put in my heart, and going where he called me to go. And I thought I knew what was ahead. I thought I understood. And then my life went topsy turvy.
Loss comes in many forms, and that means grief comes in many forms. The death of everything I thought was lasting left me so broken and confused. The loss was palpable. I had not felt this kind of loss before. Not in such a rush. I had grieved many things over the years of coming into the light, but this felt like a storm with waves that swallowed up everything and left me water logged and choking for air.
Grief is a strange companion, but a reliable one. It won't be ignored, it won't be pacified. When it wants attention, it will have it. Grief also leaves a soul as weak as can be. There is no mustering up strength to fight it. One must simply sit in it, and let it speak.
Our first year of life in Utah was marked by survival. Heck, the whole world went into survival. There was no processing anything. There was just getting up, going through the motions, and going to bed. Tears would come in the dark, when I knew everyone was asleep and didn't need me. Tears that felt like they had come from a cavern inside of me. I blinked and a year had passed. Year two brought a little more light, but still was met with pain, tears, surviving, and learning how to walk again. Year three brought a shift. Some opportunities, some next steps. Light glimmering through the forest.
Maybe it would be okay. Maybe it could even be better than before.
I put one wobbly foot in front of the other. I tried new things, allowed hope's warmth to take root. Still, a hesitancy permeated my steps. So much hope deferred. So much disappointment. Would it be wise to hope again?
This brings me to that prison cell, with the door wide open. The Lord revealed this prison cell to me, but it wasn't until recently that I realized why I was staying in an open prison.
I was hesitant to step out. The hurt and grief were so heavy from those last two years that I could only just barely see past it. I knew in my mind that it was time to be free, but those hurt places in my soul whispered not to try. Just in case it could hurt again. I've never battled depression, not even in my darkest moments, but I battled it last year. I felt crazy at times, alone at times, angry at times, helpless at times, and hopeless at times. I prayed. I cried. I journaled. I lamented.
I thought in all that I was missing Jesus, but I see now He was beside me in all of it. I was clinging to him in my wandering.
When we live so long one way, it takes more than a day to learn a new way to live. Hesitant became a protective measure I could deploy in uncertain waters. If I didn't say it, I couldn't be accused. If I didn't do it, I couldn't be attacked. If I stayed in my box, I wouldn't be cut down for trying to step out.
This has been my Crossroads lately. Choose to stay in that cell, because I'm hesitant to step out, or throw all hesitancy to the wind and run out, wild and free. I took a step towards wild and free. Jesus asked me to take an adventure with him across the ocean to His homeland. I said yes, even though I felt hesitant. I know there is more to come because faith will require it.
Another way I'm stepping out of that cell is coming back to where this all began for me thirteen years ago. I sat down one day, and wrote my thoughts out and shared them with others. I spent years doing that, once a week. Life's twists and turns pulled me away from that (and writing novels!) Last year I found myself questioning this writing gift more than I ever have. I wondered if I was dried up, had used all my words. I still have that lingering fear, but I have learned one of the best ways to dispel that fear.
So, I'll be here, writing down the things I need too. Finding Jesus in my everyday. Maybe you'll join me, and maybe you'll find him too.
Maybe together we'll abandon hesitancy and run wild and free.