The sky looks like gold and fluff and the sun is setting over the water. And I watch. And I take out my phone to get a picture. And I plead with my soul or mind or heart or whatever within me might be listening, “Let this matter to you.”
And Arlow thinks, if I’d just let him off the leash, he could for sure catch the motorcycles that drive by us. And he breaks into a run, only to be pulled back by the fraying fabric connecting us, and he bites at it and growls and refuses to move, and I pull him along saying “no” as firmly as I can, but I smile because he is his own little being and I love that he is himself and not just an extension of me. And people stop and tell me how beautiful he is, and sometimes he’s good and sometimes he jumps on them or pees on their shoes, and I say, “I’m sorry, we’re still working on manners.” And at night he curls up beside me and I watch his breath fog up the screen on my phone, and I pray that someday I won’t feel so disconnected from a life worth living. And I thank God for the ways He’s sustaining me, even when it doesn’t feel like enough.
And I read about the woman who lives with depression, and something in me turns to fire and I want to run, but I can’t, because the fire is me. And I beg God, with all the hope I have left, to not let that be my story. I can’t live my entire life wishing I wasn’t alive.
And I watch people do their lives. The barista at Starbucks, the man in the truck beside me, the baseball coach. And I think, “How?” And: “Why?” And: “What do you know that I’ve forgotten?”
And I hold babies and love people fiercely and want for them life and love and laughter and happiness. And I would protect them, if I could, from anything that would try to steal that. And I value life. I value their lives. And so why can’t I feel any sort of connection to my own?
And I’m scared.
And I dream I’m sick. Physically sick. And I’m not scared then, I’m relieved. Because no one will expect me to fix myself. No one will blame me for being sick. No one will say it’s because I’m not strong enough or don’t trust God enough. I can rest. No one will lock me away and take away my rights. They won’t withdraw. They will come near. Because it’s not my fault if I’m sick. It’s not my fault. And there’s more compassion and understanding when a high fever or broken bone are involved than when we can’t make ourselves remember that it’s a gift to be alive.
And I read: “I waffled between becoming an animal in a howl and pulling myself together into a tight numbness.” And I get it.
And the doctor calls out of duty to check on me. And no one can fix it.
And I can’t understand this God who supposedly leaves the flock of sheep for the one. And I need Him to do that for me.
And so I pray and worship and beg and sit silent under the fading sun and call everything Him. I let it all be a hug from Him. And I’m tired. I’m so tired. Because it isn’t like actually being hugged. It’s not rest or peace for my soul. It’s effort. It’s grasping and clawing and fighting tooth and nail to do this life and believe it to be beautiful and Him to be near.
And my therapist and I discuss my life, and I can’t remember a time in the last eight years where I felt at rest. Taken care of. I’m always powering through on my own strength. Alone. Except for the God who feels no nearer than my deceased mom. And it’s not enough. It’s not. enough. But I fight not to let myself believe that. Because our God is a God of abundance and not depravity, right? And so I’m always trying to be okay and call life beautiful and tell myself that what my insides are screaming for is safe in the hands of the God who promises to provide for us.
And the medication and sleep and going through the motions and asking for prayer? I’m sure they help. But it doesn’t feel like provision. It feels like effort. Just another way I’m emptying myself out in the fight for life.
And I don’t see a solution.
And I’m so scared of being left. I’m scared of them leaving, of being unlovable. And I’m scared of leaving myself, of becoming a hollow shell of a person just waiting for God to do what He’s promised to do. And they’ll blame me. Because He doesn’t fail us.
And I wonder if I’ve been believing God to be good, while simultaneously believing He is mean. Because what might be good eternally can feel really mean to us today, right? At least that’s how I’m making sense of where I am and this life I’ve been given. He is good, even when He feels mean.
And that is terrifying. Because what hope do I have then? What hope do I have of a life that is full and rich if I believe the gifts He gives might feel like pain? What hope do I have of a life that, through tears and laughter, I can feel connected to and can say, “I choose you. I choose you through it all. Because this is the life I’ve been given and it’s a gift and God is near and I’m so, so blessed. And the hard? It can’t steal the beautiful. And, my God, is this life beautiful.”
And I want to be able to look hopeless people in the eyes, and hold their face between my hands, and I want to tell them not to listen to the people who want to make sure they don’t forget that life is hard. And I want to say, “You’re not weak for struggling. And yes, life is hard. But nothing you ever face will be as hard as where you are right now. This is as bad as it gets. And there’s better for you up ahead. I promise. I know because I’ve lived this same story- the story of hopelessness and a brain that is trying to kill you. I know how tired you are.”
And then I’ll take my hand and place it over their heart, and I will speak these words over them, and pray them at the same time: “It WILL be okay. Our God is good. He is GOOD. And He loves you fiercely. And this fight you’re enduring right now? He and I are so proud of you. You are not alone, and this won’t be forever.”
And then I’ll whisper to them, as God has done to me many times through another’s words or embrace or the fluffy baby ducks on the water: “Hear me, child. There. Is. Hope.”