The afternoon sun was stretching its rays across my office wall. The sky was coming alive for the first time in days and I realized it had been hours since I left my desk. I walked downstairs and out into the plaza to soak up what little warmth the day still had to offer.
I closed my eyes for a moment, desperately trying to quiet the calendar reminders and deadlines running around in my head. There were only four weeks left until Easter, and it seemed like no amount of coffee was going to get us through April 5th.
But something deeper within me, something uglier, was climbing upward and outward as I felt the tears begin to well.
A year ago on Easter, I pulled my Honda Civic into the driveway of my grandmother’s home in the city I grew up in. In the seven days prior to that, I had flown from Haiti to Florida, packed my car with what clothes and books I could fit, and left everyone and everything else behind to drive four days across the United States alone.
That Easter marked the beginning of a numbing 337 days that just…. disappeared. And not at the hand of complacency, but instead an hour-by-hour, excruciating fear of putting any hope into a second past now. The days were long and filled with MRIs and 911 calls for a mother who had suddenly become a child when she woke up one morning with one-third of her brain cells no longer breathing.
Though her seizures have slowed and a few more words have formed again, it still hits me from time to time that my mom will never be the same mom who put so many years of care and love into raising my brothers and I. I’ll never be able to ask her what pregnancy was like, or what she thinks of this wedding dress, or what ingredient I’m missing from her Christmas cinnamon rolls. And I wonder if her new brain is swelling with her own questions she cannot ask, and what her world inside must look like.
It’s painful to be in the presence of someone you love, but still feel so alone.
There in the plaza, I began to silently apologize to God for dreading the day that His son rose from the grave and saved the world. While Jesus’s death and resurrection is a story of grace and rescue, all I could think about in that moment was everything still dead in my own life.
It’s so selfish, I know.
From family heartbreak and frustrations at work, to disappointment in my relationships and a lack of self-care, I began pleading with God for some kind of trade. As I dug my rabbit hole deeper and deeper into the Land of Why, a sweet friend walked up and took a seat next to me on the concrete, taking the shovel from my hands. We picked up twig after twig from the palm tree above us, breaking them into smaller pieces and scattering them across the ground. After I spilled my dread, I paused.
“So what do you think I should do? Hold on a little longer?” It was then I realized that for the past year I had been playing a game of tug-of-war with God on one side, and my demands for new life on the other.
“Or, maybe it’s time to let go,” she replied.
I let out a small, shocked laugh. I had never thought to drop the rope, for fear of empty hands.
So what did that say about my faith?
I thought back to a book I recently read by Dr. Larry Crabb. Over the course of one hundred pages, he explains that true faith and love come from a shatterproof hope, even in the midst of shattered dreams. I was feeling the weight of my own shattered dreams, and lacking the shatterproof hope that this painful season was actually an opportunity to be embraced.
It’s said that hearing is the last of your senses to go when you die. I’ve always found comfort in a send-off of “I love you’s” from those we’re leaving behind, while being called home by the one who made us. And I think in our worldly suffering, we can relate. There will be times when we feel like we cannot see the way, but we’ll still be able to hear two things: our heart, and God. Only then can we experience and grow true love and faith, when all else is stripped away.
My friend and I sat in silence for a few minutes, the sound of tiny preschool children playing in the distance. My introverted self has always appreciate people who can allow for the quiet.
I still have quite a few ropes left to drop, but I know God will be there at the end of every single one.