“Where is God, really? How can He be good when babies die, and marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind? Where is grace bestowed when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die, break off without reason, erode away?”-Ann Voskamp
Six-thirty am. And I’m running on an hour of sleep, following a night of sitting and putting off what was already swallowing me whole.
A night full of hating myself.
“Wake up, Amanda!” my dad urges.
Amanda. Worthy. Worthy of love. Love.
I wake up in a fog, muttering, “I’m up. I’m up.”
Already desperate to redeem myself. To prove I can do this. This is true human existing.
I ease into the steady stream of flowing water, a piece of Ann Voskamp’s quote echoing and bouncing around in my hollowed-out heart.
The words are on repeat in my soul all morning. As the sky pours down sadness. As students peer out from beneath rims of umbrella.
Flashback and I’m back in Starbucks on that October night, sitting across from her. Worlds of change accompany the half-empty coffee cups that stare at each other–opposite ends.
Her blonde curls move with every tilt of her head as I recount, “I don’t dream much anymore…”
I let it drop off, knowing how much I still hope. Knowing how much I wish.
The silence hangs like stars on a cold December night. She knows what I’ve been through. This growth-spurt that hurts for reasons I can’t explain.
This growth-spurt where nothing happened and everything happened at the same time.
My voice breaks and I tilt my chin towards my chest, doing that thing I’ve done lately. When I’m trying to keep it all together.
A cloud absorbs the storm.
“Well,” she begins, searching, “that’s kind of good and bad. . .I mean, I know it hurts when a piece of who you are dies off. I guess you kind of want to get back to that point, but you can’t at the same time. I know it hurts.”
Protests rise up and I shove them down and nod, aimlessly, “Yeah.”
All I want to do is scream. And march the streets, declaring my position until someone takes my hand and tells me what will happen to me.
I crave ocean-wave experiences.
But I break open my fist to droplets of rain, searing into my skin and setting off steam. Like summer rains.
I seek mountain views.
But I peer around my finger tips to foggy scenery.
I require heart surgery.
I know it, for my band-aid is disintegrating before my eyes.
I still sit on that beach, watching the shipwreck sink slower and slower beneath the watery grave. I shift and transition into empty halls and eerie rooms–the rooms where dreams and reality raged. The rooms where I feel caged.
And people pass by me and whisper, “Hope.”
And I scowl from behind those chains, “Not here. Not anymore.”
And He enters, “Trust Me. Get up.”
And rebel tears stream down blank canvases.