There is always a story behind the story. Always. My story is no different. In fact, I believe the back story is at the root of why God asked me to write it all down in the first place. (If you haven’t been following my story, go back to my blog Begin at the Beginning.) As I was reviewing my last entry Praying for Life, one sentence jumped off the page, catching me by surprise.
‘I had begun to segment myself already.’
I know to listen and pay attention to these kinds of moments, so I asked God, “Why this sentence?”
He replied, “It is your heart speaking. Go back to that time and seek out what your heart is saying to you.”
This is the place where the past intersects with the present…where events and hardships weave into the fabric of my life. Where things that happened TO me become things that happen IN me. I had a sudden recollection that I had a journal during the time of the accident. Why didn’t I remember that when I started writing my story I cannot tell you. Where to find it now? That was the question.
“It’s buried deep.”
And so I pulled out my drawer full of journals. Closest to the surface was the one I kept during my cancer journey. Before that there was some from when the kids were young. I found one from mine and Bill’s dating days…and before that to when we were just friends. Deeper still were some from high school. On the bottom, buried under everything else was the journal I was seeking. The symbolism of how deep it was hidden was not lost on me. I pulled it out and I knew before I opened it that this was the one. Just seeing the green Laura Ashley cover took me back and those unfeeling tears I had a few weeks ago returned.
I thought, “So here it is…and here we go…into the depth of it all.”
I left it on my bedside table for a couple of days. I read all the other journals first. I did laundry. I cleaned the kitchen. I hiked. I did grocery shopping. I watched TV. I carried it with me thinking that maybe the familiarity would bring me courage to open it. It did not. Ultimately the idea that I could miss the healing opportunity that God had laid out in front of me so clearly won out. I could refuse the deeper look and continue with unfeeling tears in this area. I could keep this section of my heart sealed off from life, or I could embrace the pain again for eventual freedom.
I chose the latter and opened the book.
At first there were lists of friends/gifts/visits. Pages of them. Then the day of the accident and every day after, all the way until Bill came home from the hospital. The pages are blank after that. Life got even harder then, and my writing time became non-existent. I read it all. Tears…feeling ones…came and went throughout the reading. Images, like HD videos in my head of times and places. People, and the painful realities of the days.
Those details are part of my story, but not the part that I will write today. For today, I needed to see the heart of the girl writing the words back then. When I was finished reading, I sat. I mulled, and pondered. I didn’t want to hurry this delicate peek into my own very young heart.
It was a sacred place then…a place of exquisite pain that is transformative.
What I saw was a very frightened girl, holding tightly to her picture of the world even as it crashed around her. She was clinging to the idea that her husband would be just as he was before, and that life would go on as planned. For her that meant something very different than what happened. At this point she didn’t know that. She only got up and went each day with hope. Innocent belief. She refused the alternative of doubt. It seemed to her that to say things might be different now was to give up completely. There was no allowance that a different dream could still be a good one. She dug in and held on to what should be true. She prayed diligently, and desperately for that truth to come into being. She was clutching her faith as if her life depended on it…and it did. But along the way the faith slid out of her hands and there was nothing left. No energy or strength. No understanding. There were no words or prayers. No scriptures. She was utterly broken. Into pieces. Crying herself to sleep each night to get up and go again each day. Tears were her only prayers. Until God himself rescued her. Not a church, or a group of people, not a person at all. He, himself came and comforted her and she let him. God was her breath. God carried her then. He still does.
But even as she learned he was trustworthy with her deepest pain, she sectioned that part of her heart off.
He was the only one allowed into that deepest of places. The rest of the world saw the outside, the “strong woman” that stood by her man. It is odd to me how segmented a heart can be. That is what my heart is telling me. I section it off into pieces until I am living from one tiny section and all the rest is boarded up. The pain of such action is obvious to others but not so much to me, unless someone bumps into my sectioned off spaces or my eyes start leaking feelingless tears. We have all known people who lash out at everyone around them or withdraw into sullenness. We wonder how those people cannot see their pain, but we are those people. We just rarely look in the mirror. I am one. On certain days, at certain times my boarded up heart finds it hard to live in the small spaces I have created. I try to let people in and there is no room. It is crowded and cramped. Yet without relationships there is a gaping hole of loneliness, and I rattle around in an empty space. My heart is complex and layered and much of it is a mystery to me.
The faith of that girl said that if you live whole heartedly for God all will be well. If you follow his commands, you will receive his blessings. You can expect these things because they are promised. People affirmed these truths. The pastor preached them from the pulpit. The reality was that brain injury did not qualify as a blessing, and she didn’t understand. In fact, if anything it was a curse…horrific and terrible in its stealing of dreams. Why, and what did we do wrong, were at the top of the thoughts that kept her awake at night. The discrepancy between her beliefs as she knew them, and what was actually happening was uncomfortable and it chipped away at her foundation. All of these musings were her secrets. Only she and God knew them. Only he understood the depth of her pain and in those days he was enough.