“If your life was as you think it should have been, if you’d had everything you ever wanted, would we be here now?”
She’s moving about the camper, stepping from one end of her home to the other in less than a dozen strides; this home not really a home but a shelter, a saving Grace.
Her feet felt this soil just a few weeks ago, felt this wet ground with soles set rough by miles and years of more arid earth. She’d come a continent away to share stories she hoped would open eyes, break open hearts.
Which they did.
But as her stories came to a close so did her funds.
She slides herself between table and bench across from me and looks down to her Bible worn, written, pale pastel speckled like eggs and Easter, bold black lines scattered among circles, stars, and there, in the corner, one drip of rich red that says “Yes!”
I look down at my own, run my palm across the pages just as smooth and crisp as sheets still sun warm; my own, barren and blank save tiny text pushed into the page. I trace my finger along the letters, letters collected in to groupings that make words that convey ideas that I have no idea about.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Words that make ideas that make her bounce up from her book and say “Yes!” with a wide toothy grin that shows stark against her dark skin. Her eyes smile louder yet when she looks up at me, eyes so dark I’m reminded of the sea at night, sea so dark it meets the sky invisible, no beginning and no end.
Her smile slips slowly as she looks at me, pins those midnight eyes right on mine.
“I have no life, Bo, let alone a full one. I don’t live. I exist. That’s all. Just exist.”
I’ve just told her about me, about my life. I’ve told her about the mother, and the father. The grandparents. I told her about the foster homes and the sickness and the pills. I told her about trying to take my life, about the friends who took theirs. I told her about the men and the marriage and the man. I told her about the baby and the boys and the blood. I told her about the drinking and the chapel and the turmoil and the starting over again.
Always the starting over.
I told her about the running.
Always the running.
I told her about the searching.
Always the searching.
And I told her about the attic.
“Well,” she says, “He could have saved you simply because He wanted to, because He can. He could have saved you for His own sheer delight.”
And there it is again, that smile so wide it seeps from her skin and her eyes shine like so much starry night and I don’t know what it is. I can’t place it and can’t put my finger on it and I can’t put a word to it. There are no letters I know that form an articulation of what she is or what she’s got, but I know it’s what I want.
I know I want to be how she is, however that is.
“But why save me,” I ask her. “Why? I didn’t want saving. I didn’t want this life. Not like this. I’ve begged Him– begged Him– my entire life for something, anything. I’ve begged Him to make me ok, make me like everyone else. I’ve begged Him to give me just one thing. Just one. But He doesn’t. He won’t.”
She gets up and moves through the narrow path to the bed in the back, pulls her suitcase up from the floor and drops it down on the bed. She flips the lid back and pulls out a sweater, drapes it over her shoulders and side steps her way back to the little space between us.
“Are you sure about that?”
“I have no family,” I snap, my throat tightening, tears singeing. Anger barges in shoving Sadness aside.
“Just one thing, Bo. Just one thing. Parents. Family. Home. Stability. Sanity.”
And I’m sobbing now, sobbing and yelling and smacking my palms down on those clean white pages.
“I don’t care which one, Bo. Never did. Pick one. Any one. I only wanted one. But nothing. Not one.
Not a single one.”
My voice is climbing as my tears are falling and I want to shout so loud all the Sad spills out so I don’t drown in the Dark.
All I want is something else.
Something other than I got.
“I needed one thing, Bo. Just one.”
She reaches for a tissue on the counter beside us and knocks her wallet to the floor, a wallet full of photos and phone numbers and lists of do-not-forgets, but not a penny.
Not a single one.
She hands me the tissue and lets her hand come down on top of mine, rests her warm skin against mine, black on white.
“God could have saved you, could have revealed Himself to you out of sheer delight. But, I doubt that’s all of it. I doubt He saved you just because.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t exactly know, but I do know His ways are so much bigger than that. I do know He has a reason. And He has a reason for you.”
She squeezes my hand and looks at me so unlike myself. The contrast between us burrows deeper than skin, wider than miles and oceans, greater than customs and continents. The difference in her is what’s lacking in me, what’s aching in me.
The difference in her is what’s needing in me.
“God didn’t make you and He didn’t save you for nothing.”
And she smiles so big, then reaches over to her laptop and taps a couple times, music streaming from two tiny speakers I can’t even see. She rises and smiles and sings, moving slow and easy in that narrow path.
This woman stranded in a land not her own smiles and sings and moves, dark and lean and graceful; she moves fluid and free like water, she moves and sings, sings about her friend in Jesus, smiles and sings with eyes as bright as any starry night.
* * * * *
Three years ago I didn’t know how to purse my lips or place my tongue. I had no idea how to make sounds that articulate ideas. Three years ago I had no inkling of wants or needs.
Mine was a crisp blank page.
Three years ago I filled my sight looking in and watching out.
Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Today I can speak and share and even sing.
Today I can articulate thankfulness for so many unanswered prayers.
Today I can praise God for giving me everything I never wanted.
Today I’m looking up and seeing God and learning just who He is,
just How. He. Is.
Today I’m falling in Love.
For the very first time.
today I Live.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.