They've been life rafts through the rapids. Painkillers for the soul. The water-stained King James Version of my childhood floated me out of adolescence. The green one is the first I ever bought with my own money, on a night of desperation that found me in the bowels of the hugest Christian bookstore I'd ever seen one winter night in Minneapolis when I was 21. I felt like a rebel buying a NIV just because the cover spoke to me.
Pain is an ocean you can't cross swimming on your own strength. I remember the day in 2010 when I heard Jesus calling from the stormy sea while I huddled in the boat, begging for the hurricane to pass. All the underlining in my Bibles had not prepared me for this moment, this crisis of faith. Would I walk out onto that ocean of pain? Could I trust that He would make my footing sure?
I almost died in that boat before I finally decided to step over the side. But when I finally took that step of faith - to walk into my pain with Jesus beside me - it was the first step in healing. I was used up, battered, abused, discouraged, hopeless. With every step farther onto the ocean, my confidence climbed. Maybe His Word, those Words I had eaten and subsisted on for so many years of spiritual and emotional famine - maybe they were true - true enough to bear my weight if I stood on them. Maybe I could move the mountain of my own faith-challenged self if I had just that speck of trust.
Just like Peter, I fall in and almost drown again. As I'm flailing in the water, frantic for rescue from this pain I'm succumbing to, I can't for the life of me remember how I got up to the surface last time. I was a lifeguard once, and I still remember them saying that a drowning person who struggles drowns twice as fast. I've been using up my last reserves of energy flailing in the pain, and my head's about to go under for the third time.
I hear His voice, trying to calm me. Trying to remind me how I walked on water once, and that I can again. But maybe this time, I just need Him to calm the storm and come lift me up from the depths. Sometimes He does that. And sometimes not.
What's pulling me under isn't the dark underbelly of the mind, the pain bottled up, the wind whipping that ocean of hurt into a typhoon. It's the fear that follows, the fear that I'll be forever submerged in this pain. Panic is what's drowning me. All the words of thanks spoken in hushed voice into the wind of this suffering aren't pulling me to the surface right now. All the joy-finding, and the distractions of working, and the staying in the moment coping skills I've collected, they're no lift raft today. What I need is the faith to climb back out of the ocean and walk again.
Tonight, I will try to be still in the ocean of pain. Conserve my energy. Quit flailing. Maybe in the quiet, I'll be able to hold onto the rope of His love and He will pull me to the surface again.
White lips, pale face
Breathing in snowflakes
Burnt lungs, sour taste
Light's gone, day's end
Struggling to pay rent
And they say
She's in the Class A Team
Stuck in her daydream
Been this way since 18
But lately her face seems
Slowly sinking, wasting
Crumbling like pastries
And they scream
The worst things in life come free to us
Cuz we're just under the upperhand
And she don't want to go outside tonight
It's too cold outside
For angels to fly
Angels to fly
~Ed Sheeran, A Team~