Monday, February 11, 2019

james


The white-gray space heater was on, only one foot to the right of me. It felt like ice was slicing through the air and stopping an inch from my body, emanating its thick chill onto me.

I was actually shaking. But not just within my body. Much deeper within my heart and mind.

I had to push a name on a phone screen. A name I’d called many times before. A name that had called my phone more. A name that, over two years ago after I texted, I’d fling my phone as far away as possible, so nervous of having communicated and yet so hopeful of having communication back: wanting it and dreading it at the same time. What if I said something wrong? But what if I said something right?

This conversation was going to be different.

I’d sat by a heat source: a fire built by someone who was family. I’d started journaling, the packed-up processing I’d neglected from the past nine months pushing out. Ten pages later, I’d written almost a letter—written for my own processing but now unintentionally for me to process to him.

I edited. Refined. But tried not to edit my heart, not remove it from my words so much anymore as I used to. Struggling to know how much to share, to know how to share, to know what parts to leave quiet and which to expose. Struggling, when my heart wants to finally love but when my mind screams that this is just what brings the most fear, and when the shadow of his answer was already materializing  in my mind.

We texted and were having problems finding a time to talk. I felt nauseous, carrying my words within myself as something spoiling inside. It was time, time to let them out so I could fully heal.

I read my words, recorded them in a voice message, and sent it. Didn’t want to but almost didn’t have a choice anymore. Forty minutes later surrounded by new friends and salmon fishing camp stories in a semi-new city, the waiting began. I was juxtaposed: carrying old pain and anticipation but anticipating the new hope on the flipside of almost deeper than speakable pain, the freedom on the underbelly of costly release.

Five days later, I was by the space heater, pushing call. We talked, for about thirty. It was good. He said thank you, truly thank you for taking the time to share. He said sorry, sorry for the confusion and misactions. He said honesty, honesty that he’d be conflicted too, wavering between wanting and doubt. He said encouragement, encouragement that God is working. He said care, deep care for me. He said closure, closure and locking and a new kind of leaving.

We end capped it with theology and prayer requests, classic us. Three years of knowing him, one year of seeing him for hours almost every day. But now, the end my mind had been crying for but my heart had been fighting against: the door was locked to us ever being more than what we once were, of him becoming family, of me becoming his.

I pushed end, knowing as my finger touched the red that his would likely never hold me again, that our relationship which was more than it sometimes should have been was now finalized as less than it could have been.

But every leaving is a coming.

I was coming, first. Feeling anger slide away as soon as his voice slid in, but now I started sinking into sadness. Anything other. I hate it, despise it, can’t figure it out cleanly and make it go away. Then doubt. I could have, should have done something differently. If I would have changed my words, my thoughts, my appearance, not been so focused on myself, sought the Lord more, prayed more, then this would be different. Pressure. I’m letting my family down. All those who commented on how they saw this working. It must be my fault. Fear. You don’t know how to let people in, you wanted this but you always talked yourself out of wanting it but loved even though you doubted and still doubt doubt doubt, you may never find someone, he isn’t the right one but maybe he could have been or maybe he was and you’re wrong, who is going to know you as much as he did but you didn’t let him know you as much as you could and that is the problem, you are always the problem.

To every thought, a counter-thought. To every belief, a disbelief. To every hope, a shadow. To every confidence, a certain uncertainty. And pain. Soul-deep pain blanked with suffocating sadness, worsened by the compression of swirling change of the past six months, months when I uprooted my life and unbared my soul.

But every leaving is a coming.

I was coming, second. I stood by the deep mahogany cabinet, the amber yellow lamp casting a small glow as we turned out the rest of the lights in my parents’ home. I’d been talking some, sharing.

“It’s like I’m holding on. There’s this orb of so much piled high, and I’m clinging to the edge, dangling. Dangling and afraid to let go. Dangling, afraid to let my expectations go and go where He’s taking me.”

Trust. James had hit the core of it. A year before, I’d been writing a Greek paper, sitting in the deep red chairs of the library. The song had blazed through the ear buds:

“What if you could let your guard down? What if you could trust me somehow? I swear that I won’t let you go. I won’t let you go.”

I trust God with my life, but I hold onto my control of my days. Know He’s working it all out in the end but worrying about my messing it all up from the beginning.

James had let me go, but maybe he’d really shown me that I need to let go. To let go to this fear of people leaving and it always being my fault, to let go not only of the expectations people have of me but also those I bear upon myself, to let go of my fixation on perfectly pleasing God and to come, to come as a sinner in need of a Savior, a girl balancing belief and brokenness, a wide-eyed daughter who is learning to guard but not hide her heart, a woman afraid to trust, a human who is weak but can chose to seek: to lay down her dreams and desires when it actually costs, to come to the feet of Jesus with all of her and say five simple words: I can’t. But, I come.

Every leaving is a coming.
And maybe coming to a pain-dripping end of myself leaves me in the best place possible: surrendered.

Lord, have Your way in me.

“What if you could let your guard down? What if you could trust me somehow? I swear that I won’t let you go. I won’t let you go.”

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I definitely don't want this to be a monologue. What are your thoughts? Questions? Ideas?

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