Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Therefore, do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2

I can remember exactly what I was doing this time four years ago.
Time is funny like that.
One moment you're fifteen, a sophomore in high school, and ignorant to the things life throws.

But you blink.
Just once--sometimes several times.
The number hardly matters--
by the time your eyes are opened, the world has altered.
Time has progressed.
Miracles and heartaches have happened.

I blinked once.
I was wearing blue,
and it was the first day of rain that December.
The morning was cold and dreary, but our Christmas tree
{picked out the night prior} shone bright in our living room.

My life had gone uninterrupted by pain for quite some time,
but the kind of pain that was just moments away was unfathomable.
In one moment I existed within a life that would become the before,
while the rest of my life--the after--waited before me, coming full force in my naive direction.

It was one single phone call for me, and a whole lot of shock and questions regarding this thing called life.
Though there is a whole other story to it.
Different versions of the same story, just depending on who's doing the talking.
It's a story I cannot comprehend, nor can I rightfully attempt to understand or talk about.
Yet it's here--here in my heart where I keep a drawer.

That's the funny thing about pain--
It overstays its welcome and then one day it fades away as everyone says it will.
It tucks itself within a drawer and that drawer remains stagnant within you.

My drawer is solid. It will never move.
I couldn't move it if I had to, and I wouldn't move it even if I thought I wanted to.
Because there's something so intimate about seeing someone in pain, and remembering it.

I knew a woman who used to say something like this:

I sit there and cut myself open and my blood and guts are on the table with my heart and the person across from me is just staring as if to say, Whoa this is too much. So I try to clean up the mess and put it all back but it's there, on the table. 

I remember the first time I heard her say this.
It was just a few months after that cold day in December.
As she spoke, tears would often cup in her eyes.
Other times there would be passion behind her words, as she encouraged people on.
Her story was and is nothing short of remarkable.
It's a story of tremendous pain.
I knew I didn't want to be the one across the table, startled and uncomfortable.
I wanted to be the person helping with the mess--but more than that, I wanted to know how to allow myself the same ability of admitting to pain like that. I wanted to be God-honest, bleeding with her at that table.

Her story had pain.
And our story had a different, much smaller type of pain--but pain nonetheless--
the type that stings on days like today because I can no longer tell her
Hey, I remember. I never forgot. I will never forget.

Because I remember. I never forgot. I'll never forget.

So all week I've been counting again.
I calculate the days in my head and align them with the past.
I too easily recall my fifteen year old self.
And I remember how my heart went out to her early that Saturday--
my heart still reaches out, just as much...if not more.

It was just after nine o'clock in the morning.
The phone rang--it was my aunt.
Something had happened to someone I knew who was with someone who had been a close friend.
I was confused, But God, people my age don't--

So the earth tilted, and heaven received a beautiful addition.
Much too soon of an addition, I might add but I cannot speak on behalf of God.

Something huge happened. Something tragic.
It was never meant to be my pain, and it still isn't and I won't claim anything from it.
All I know is that the life of one forever changed the course of mine.

I have to acknowledge the day because I can't sit through it and go about my life without
noting the drawer in my heart that opens itself up as if to say I'm still here.

My drawer is old and heavy, and its contents do not all belong to me.
Instead there are pieces of lives that were given to me in confidence,
in pure moments of blissful reminiscing,
and in raw moments of heavy grieving.

There are faces smeared in my memory,
and voices that I can hear loud as ever.
There are words of kindness and of hate that resonate in my mind,
and there are moments--specific, clear as day moments--where I swear I can live them over precisely.

They're the kind of moments that take you back--that take your breath away.
I gasp as I remember, Ah, that was me? That was us?
I recently heard myself say to someone, You don't even know...
No one does.

I'll close the drawer after tomorrow passes and I'll forget things once more.
The memories don't dissipate within the mind,
but rather they know when to present themselves and when to keep away.

I'll keep my drawer locked and tucked far away in an unforgettable place.
And I will do my best to never forget to entertain strangers.

In the midst of everything I saw, I still believe that God is good.
All the time.
And I wonder of the lives I once knew--hoping that goodness abounds in the face of today.

It's been four years.
I am nineteen years old.
A sophomore in college,
Ignorant to what nearly everything means,
and yet I've learned of God's grace in the midst of extraordinary trials.

And He is good, and life is still in the palms of His hands.

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