Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In Memory and In Joy

It is a strange and beautiful anniversary this week. Starting on the 15th and ending on the 17th of June I remember the three days that I was in a coma in the hospital after attempting to take my own life.

That was six years ago today.

As I said, it is a strange commemoration, to remember such a dark moment, to memorialize a rock-bottom. But it is a beautiful thing, too. It is remembering not only my powerlessness, but God's power. It is a telling of His story, the story of his intervening mercy, His life-changing grace, His transformational love. For it was six years ago that He rescued me, that He broke the bondage of my slavery and proclaimed this captive free.

There is a song that became a life-line to me in the difficult times that followed:
Mercy said, 'No, I'm not going to let you go.
I'm not going to you slip away.
You don't have to be ashamed."
Mercy said, 'No. Sin will never take control.'
Life and death stood face to face
and darkness tried to steal my heart away
but, thank you, Jesus
Mercy said, 'No.'


For each of the last five years I have taken this time to tell the story of my darkness, to share my testimony at a recovery group and rejoice in God's grace. Tonight, however, I am drawn to a different story, to the story of the six years since that moment.

It has been a long six years, yet it has rushed through like a Kansas City thunderstorm, wreaking its own havoc but lighting up the sky in an awesome display. So much has happened...

Within a year of being so broken, so helpless and hopeless and lost that the only answer I could see was to give up the life I had so utterly failed to live, God had not only made a covenant with me that would never allow me to go back, but He had so reconstructed me that I stood in the face of infidelity and actually believed in myself regardless. That first year saw me move from devastation to standing on my own two feet, separated and in counseling.

By year two, I was by all means divorced, living on my own for the first time in my life, with a new relationship with God and His people. By this time in the second year, I was ready to move here to KC, to go back to school, to face the things I had been unable to face at 18, to launch into the adventure of a lifetime - growing up!

Year three saw me cut those ties, purchase my own home, and move here, some 3,000 miles away from my family and all I had ever known. These two years together brought the blessing of love into my life, and they also took it away. And I will never be the same but always be the better for it.

Year four was about friendship and accountability. I graduated from college, the first in my family to get my degree, and it ended with an invitation from God to embrace 'life after death,' resurrection life!

Year five began with a trip to Africa and another covenant, a covenant of relational sobriety. It was about coming to grips with my own character defects and investing in those around me, and it ended with my starting graduate studies, pursuing a Master's in Counseling.

Year six... I think in many ways it has been the most difficult. Graduate school has been as much about facing my demons as it has been about embracing my heart. I watched as someone I loved got married to someone else. I found my brother and then lost him, too. In fact, I lost a good friend, as well. I suppose that is the nature of investing in others - you have to face losing them. In the process, I was called upon to grow up in unexpected ways - and to be young again in equally unexpected ways. I discovered a different kind of differentiation than I had dreamed possible before and as a result I began to see my world so much more clearly than I ever had before.

Truly, in that way, God has fulfilled a promise to me this year - the promise of SANITY - seeing things just as they are - no more denial, no more fear, no more splitting. Somewhere along the way, God has done for me what I could not do for myself.

Year six has marked another turning point. I've identified my true wounds, I understand the bigger patterns, I've accepted myself, good and bad. It is as if year six, with its mistakes and angst, has been like the breaking of the seed when it bursts forth in sprout. Or perhaps, better said, it is the bursting of the plant, the tearing of its tendrils, to produce fruit. It hurts. But there is fruit. For the first time. There is fruit.

Year six ended in a promise and an unexpected excursion to the Promised Land. Interestingly, this marks my movement into year seven...

Long about January it seemed that God declared a year of abundance, a year of jubilee in which He would take HIS land back, His people back. And I am just realizing that now I am headed into the seventh year, the Year of Jubilee.

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