When I read the class' assigned readings, I perused with little attention to any particular segment. However, when I read this particular section, I found myself drawn to it, like a small child watching a tin train run on its tiny tin tracks through a pane of glass:“…He’s so savoring the moments of his life right now, so acutely aware of love and small pleasures that he no longer feels that he has a life-threatening disease: he now says he’s leading a disease-threatening life,” (Lamott 118-119). This phrase struck me. Not only did its poignancy and emotion lead me to read it several times, drinking in its implication, but it struck an emotional chord with me that hadn’t been touched in a while. It wasn’t a light ‘striking’ of a chord, like the tender pinging of a piano’s hammer striking the strings within the instrument’s belly. Oh no…this sentiment smacked me like an openhanded wallop right in the kisser. This man, this friend of Lamott’s, had mastered getting up when the going was tough.
I know what a feat that is, because I, too, spent a period of my life wondering why God felt the need to force me to go on living. At first it was hard enough to think about to myself, let alone verbalize, but after a year, I can talk about it and realize that incredible pain can inadvertently pave the way for phenomenal blessing. In May of 2004, one of my closest guy ‘friends’ raped me; this sexual assault led to a pregnancy, and two days before my freshman year of college was to begin, my Grandma Shug died. Still dealing with the rape and added grief of losing one of the closest people in my life, my Grandma, in mid-September of that year, I miscarried the baby. In the following months as I struggled to go to class, keep my faith, and my sanity, three of my uncles died.
The emotional pain was so intense that some days I swore that God was smiting me. People say that God doesn’t do that anymore, but how do we know? The mighty hand of God killed Annaias and Sapphira of the New Testament because they had sinned against Him. In my torment, I felt like God had not only struck down those that I loved, allowed me to be mentally and physically assaulted, but then turned His back on me when I cried out to Him to deliver me. And as for crying, the well was endless. Some days, I didn’t go to class because I had stayed up crying all night and couldn’t drag myself out of bed the next day. Others, I was too paranoid to go outside, fearing that people would see me and “know” that I was a broken person. Not trusting people and behaving like a walking zombie was definitely a low that no person should ever have to bear alone; unfortunately, I had made up my mind that Jesus wasn’t saving me anymore. People tout the old clichés and “there is so much to live for,” but I couldn’t see it. Everything I saw was viewed through a filter of pain, distrust, and anger.
Even now, I’m not sure what “snapped” me out of it. Maybe it was the e-mails from my mama every morning, just telling me that she loved me, sending me love and “Big Slobbery Licks from Scarlett,” our dog. Maybe it was my Daddy, always telling me things that I rolled my eyes about but memorized later. “I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and that’s okay.” Maybe it was the sorority on campus that I joined, Alpha Delta Pi, where I met wonderful girls, many of who share my faith and who have helped me heal. Maybe it’s my wonderful fiancé, who’s been a perfect gentleman and realized that every person isn’t “out to get” me, and that love is one helluva Band-Aid on a broken heart. Maybe it’s my church family back home, sending me e-mails, care packages, and cards, just to let me know that they were thinking about me. Or maybe it was my beautiful, beautiful Jesus, putting people in my life that could show me how to smile through the rain.
For his anger lasts only a moment,but his favor lasts a lifetime;weeping may remain for a night,but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5