“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” –Seneca
I believe this world has a certain mercy about it. I’ve come to know the pain it dispenses like pez candy quite well; I’ve known heartache so deep that my soul became numb and my body caught fire in flames of roman-candle sorrow, ignited by the continual spark of sadness against the fuel of my deepest loss. I’ve known emptiness so wide and so vast that my very existence was an abyss in which everything around it was consumed in an instantaneous vacuum wherein it ceased to exist. I’ve known brokenness so real that my bones ached and my mind slammed itself repeatedly against the walls of my own dark thinking; over and over and over again, until my cranium radiated with skull crushing pain and the only idea that continued to make sense was to kill myself before it lasted another minute. I’ve been broke down and sold out and battered by the hands the hands of time; cleaned out and murdered in my soul. Some of you may think I’m stretching things for the sake of entertainment. I’m not. With all of my being, I sincerely know the deepest depths of pain and the darkest places it can take you. And in times like those, nothing could have been said to lighten my burden; it was mine to carry. Nothing could have been done to lessen the load; I was a hollowed out image of a girl who once dreamed; a ghost in a fog; ripped at the seams. I’ve been there, as close to the edge as you can possibly get… I’ve also gone completely over it.
What I see now from the outside looking in is a great awakening. I see an apex. I sensed it then, even… But had anybody said that to me, I would’ve raised my tattered white flag. Because I didn’t have it in me. For all my drive, for all my perseverance, some shadows are too long–and too close to us–to face them. In my loneliness and grief, no words of encouragement could have motivated me out of my messes. No condolances could have reconciled the distance between my state of mind and my actual potential… Because in those moments, NOTHING MATTERED.
I know some incredible people. Over the years, I’ve witnessed their seasons of insurmountable madness. I’ve watched, holding my breath, as they emerged from their hopes for the future to find themselves surfacing in a giant ocean of complete disappointment. Heartbreak, of every kind. I’ve seen what these things look like from the outside… You know, the point at which we get a phone call and fall to our knees; we wake up to find our bed and our home suddenly empty; we show up for work and we’re handed a pink slip; I’ve seen the tide roll in on top of me, and I’ve also watched it rise from shore. And there are certain people I have known who learned–in that VERY INSTANT–to go with the flow. Without a moment’s hesitation, their stride switched to meet the occasion. Who does that? Who has whatever it is that makes you go from floating on a cloud to diving head first off a hundred foot cliff without even looking down first? I consider myself very fortunate to have met these kind of people in my lifetime. It may sound absurd, but there are real heroes in this world. I know a few.
But I never was a heroic type of girl. I was always spontaneous, yet committed. Carefree, but grounded. Free thinking, yet aware. I went where my feet led me without a worry in the world. And sadly, the world brought me plenty to worry about.
When I love, I love like a forest on fire. I don’t know how to do it any other way. And in the intensity of that kind of love, there is always something that gets burned. In my case, it has almost
always been my belief in the unbelievable. Sometimes, the general consensus is not, in fact, wrong. I was born with a burning desire to prove otherwise; hence many of my own personal pains.
Almost everyone I know is currently experiencing that life-changing moment in time where they casually glance behind them to discover a massive fifteen foot wave is rushing in over their heads… I’ve been in that situation literally, swimming in the ocean, bodysurfing in Hawaii, without a care in the world or a clue in my mind that my fragile little life is about to turn upside down. I lived through it, like anybody else certainly would have, but it was the single most INDESCRIBABLE sensation of my life, and I will never forget the intensity of it.
Pain is a lot like that. We know how bad it was once we’re out of it, and we think we remember the extent to which we were horrified and ripped in half and trapped in the weight of that moment… But do we really?
These people I love are shutting down. They are going through the motions, they’ve done it before and they’ll do it again… But it makes me wonder: do we have any idea how strong we are? Do we actually comprehend our ability to survive?
Survival isn’t a competition in real life. It’s not about anybody else. It’s you, and you alone. Nothing anyone else says can help you. Nothing anyone else does as a gesture of love and compassion can get you through it. Survival is the bare bones, brass tacks question: “So what are you made of?”
I’m made of fragile broken pieces taped back together in a mosaic of melodies and harmonies, opposites and similarities, losses and opportunities. A brightly colored assortment of hodge podge horrors that I learned the hard way were actually victories in disguise. You cannot know what it is to win, until you have had to fight. Some valleys can’t be crossed and some mountains can’t be climbed. I’m not out to convince the unconvinceable, or to cheerlead the overcomer within you. I’m simply suggesting that maybe we have no idea how strong and how certain our core is. If you think about the peace of God, about His mercy in the face of every kind of evil; if you think about His grace, and how He quietly leads us out of our own inability and into our supernatural identity… How could we be anything less than perfectly and undeniably capable of complete and total perseverance?
All I know is this: you either make it or you don’t. It’s that simple. A lot of heroes die never knowing how close they came to the summit that they had spent a strenuous and deeply lived lifetime pursuing. A lot of great men and women lose the battle because of those moments when it simply became too much to bear. But I believe in the hero within us. I know that nothing can quiet the roar of the tide… But wow, how it sounds from the other side.