"what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" [Psalm 8:4]
Yesterday I made a grave mistake. I received a phone call from my job's maintenance & cleaning personnel that I left my wallet and keys. Rushing out trying to get Zinai to ballet class on time, I left behind a slew of things, including my journal. MY JOURNAL! For those of us that journal, we know how PRIVATE they are. While there is nothing in there that I am ashamed of, there is a sense of violation and intrusion when someone decides to read my heart, unedited and in the raw, without permission. I think I would've easily sacrificed everything else and waited until the next day to retrieve it, but my journal?!?! Oh no boo boo. We must go back!
He was so puzzled by my angst about my journal. Not my other things, but my journal. He said, 'I don't get it. I think journals are so stupid and a waste of time." Gasp! How dare he, right?! The hood in me almost came out, but I calmed myself. LOL. He doesn't know my journey, and I didn't know his. He doesn't have to speak my language for me to know he, too, is on a journey to trying to live out this life the best way he knows how.
By God's grace, he was kind enough to wait for me to drive 15 minutes back to get my things. Whew! You see, coupled with drawing, I've been writing poems & journaling since the age of 12. It became my safe haven. It's near and dear to my heart. And I don't grant access to my heart that easily. I guard my heart with my life.
When I began writing, I didn't call it poetry nor journaling. I didn't have that kind of language for it yet. They really were venting sessions and angry letters to God. I had a hard time speaking about my feelings, because I felt all wrong about them or that I would go to hell for thinking and feeling the way I did. So praying out loud about it wasn't happening. All I could manage to do was cry or scream into my pillow once everyone was asleep. I learned how to contain my emotions enough to avoid publicly crying. I didn't want to really TALK about anything because my memories said that TALKING about what I was thinking got me in trouble, or left people with that puzzled, tilt-head-to-the-side look. The truth is, I didn't want to live but I didn't have the courage to verbalize it. So I drew, but mainly, I wrote.
I felt very alone and displaced in life. I felt misunderstood and unwanted. I didn't particularly lack basic needs nor love from my family. Independent of the time our family lost our home to a fire and were left homeless for a while, we were seemingly stable. But I felt alone.
I would write angry letters asking God to just take me. I begged Him at one point to just let me die in my sleep. I would contemplate running away, but didn't have a clue where to. I thought about going into the middle of the street after school in front of a truck and just let it run me over. I would consider drowning myself in the bathtub while everyone was asleep, but then I'd be scared that it would take too long to die and I didn't want to go through that. I was desperately seeking for attention; for love; for someone to hear me beyond my silence, displayed anger, attitude or emotional instability.
It wasn't until about 3 years later, during the season where I was diagnosed with Leukemia (bed ridden and immobile) that I felt like I was challenged by God Himself. I couldn't even escape through writing because I was unable to use my muscles. I was so angry at God. I felt like God was punishing me for being ungrateful maybe. Or maybe He made a mistake when He made me so this was the way to undo what He started. At that point my aunt had passed away from Leukemia years back, so I figured I was next. Our family nor our church community was big on counseling, so that wasn't an option readily available to me. But God became my personal Healer and the greatest Counselor I could have ever encountered. In the realest, most loving confrontation I could have ever experienced, God challenged my thoughts about who I thought He was. Through the words I had rehearsed for bible school or family devotional time, His word began to come alive. He was (and still is) so intentional. It seemed like every letter that I wrote to Him, He was addressing during what felt like solitary confinement. God taking the time to stop the world for a moment in time to speak directly to my heart felt surreal. It was then that I thought like David, "who am I that you are mindful of me and that you care?" During the most painful (emotionally & physically) season of my life then, I felt God's heartbeat for mine. My mom couldn't save me. My dad couldn't pray this way. My brothers couldn't protect me. God had me right where I needed to be. Alone.
I'm so glad I never succeeded in acting out what I contemplated. I wouldn't see the power of what I have been through, to help another feeling or going through something similar. To feel and know that THERE IS HOPE and that LIFE doesn't have to end. There is ONE that listens and UNDERSTANDS. But also, that we are surrounded by so many counselors, resources and trained professionals that can help walk through some of our very deep and dark emotions. I'm a firm believer of Jesus Christ and the power of the word and prayer. I'm a witness of it. But I also believe that that same God uses people to touch our hearts. He uses communities to shift our perspective. He uses love to heal our wounds.
Almost 20 years later, I remain writing letters to God, but as I read back, they have become letters from Him to me. Each letter chronicles the depth of past pain and victories, but most importantly, the vastness of His love and grace flowing through every page. I didn't realize that He was the One that led me to writing, because He knew wholeness would come from it. It's been quite the journey to say the least. I am so grateful for this journey. It only gives me (and you) all the more hope for what will be, as He continues to anchor me in His peaceful waters and hold my world in His hands.