Tuesday, July 4, 2017

On Greatest Fears and Knowing Where You Are

When I was younger, perhaps eleven or twelve years old, I was very lonely.

I remember one night I was over at someone's house after the sun had gone down. There was a lingering pinkness showing through the trees in the west, but the stars were already coming out above me. I was lying on my back on their trampoline, at a weird angle to avoid the hole in it. I could hear the other kids screeching off somewhere in the woods, yelling directions as they tried to catch an armadillo.

The stars were so clear that night. I remember seeing Cygnus the Swan almost directly overhead. My heart was aching like it was being squeezed by a great, iron-clad fist, and more than anything I wanted someone, anyone, even an adult, to come out and just lie there next to me on that trampoline. I had been alone all afternoon. I had watched the sun go down from someone else's kitchen window while their parents weren't home and they themselves ran wild at a faster pace than I could manage.

I was whispering to the sky, because I was a weird kid who believed it would hear me. I don't even remember what I said, but it was pathetic and probably really sappy and embarrassing. But I was talking to a bunch of gas-balls millions of miles away and finding a very small and uncomforting comfort in the romanticism of it.

I never really got over my loneliness.

It's my greatest fear, you know. Like Fezzik, my idea of hell is being alone for ever. I don't need to speak, I don't need to move. I can live in a box the size of a coffin for all eternity, as long as I have someone crammed into that box with me. I used to wonder why Satan never attacked me with demons like he did my friends. I know now that it was because he knew it was worse for me without them.

It's gotten better. I have friends now, close friends that are brave and true and better to me than I could ever be to them. One friend in particular; small and sweet and with a mouth that speaks of love and hope and courage. If the coffin gets too small all I have to do is cry out and someone will crawl in to spend the night with me.

But sometimes the coffin's too small for them to fit, and then the dark reaches out with cold fingers and my lungs no longer breathe; then my brain short circuits and all of a sudden I'm in a white room at midnight, and no one sees me and no one knows me and I'm not sure I even know myself anymore.

And sometimes that white room turns into a hallway, twisting and branching and dipping deeper and deeper underground with each step I take. And the further I go the more I forget about how I got here in the first place; the more I forget about who I am.

I wonder how often that happens in real life. How many times does your average person stop in the middle of their work because suddenly they don't know where they are? How often do they see white and have to shake their head and reach for the nearest bit of color?

* * * * *

I wrote this post well over a year and a half ago, but for reasons that are probably obvious, I never published it. How badly I wanted to be heard and pitied for problems I could have just taken to the Lord! My heart was aching for so much more than I had, despite my having everything I needed within my grasp. 

What I said in the 7th paragraph is true - it's gotten better.  

God has worked in my life in amazing ways. I still get lonely sometimes. But no coffin is too small for my Lord, and with a breath He can fill my white rooms with sound and color and a Lifeblood. I don't have to wonder where I am when I'm in His arms. 

Being lonely is no longer my greatest fear. 

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