I'd like the story to shape itself in your mind, without the distraction of pictures.
There is a hindering vulnerability, the thought that you (my readers) are not interested in my personal life. That if my story takes too long, you will lose interest. Yet I know God makes these impressions on each of our hearts, making moments stand out in our lives, that we might grow, change, remember, and share.
So here is one of the many stories in my faith journey....
My life was in the shambles.
I was 20 years old. I had a beautiful toddler and I loved being a mother. But I was utterly incapable of seeing good in my life. I was devastated.
I had recently had a late-term miscarriage. I lost my precious baby at 17 weeks. I had to undergo surgery, and had nearly hemorrhaged to death. I had been on iron supplements for months.
My loss was nearly suffocating.
My husband and I were struggling. He had been sad when we lost our baby, but had never connected to her like I did, and didn't grieve. We did not communicate well. I felt appallingly alone.
Pregnant women seemed to come out of the wood work. I could not go anywhere without being bombarded with images of newborns, pregnant women. I knew I was withdrawing, becoming bitter. I hated that but did not know what to do to prevent it.
My marriage was in a very fragile place. My husband and I married very young. We were both eighteen when we said I do, having no earthly idea how hard marriage would be under normal circumstances, let alone being employed by the army. I hardly got to see him during the first year we lived in Texas, and it was the first time I had ever been away from home.
I missed familiar places. I missed my family.
My mother paid for me and Andrew, my toddler, to fly home to visit while Trever would be away on field training. Andrew could still fly free, being under two years old. I was excited to visit home, but missed my husband.
Being back in California made me oddly uncomfortable. I kept thinking about my apartment in Texas. Was that my home now? Why did I miss it so much? Trever had gotten to come home for a night, and I had talked to him on the phone. And I was frustrated that I couldn't be home with him while he was off work. I also felt strangely insecure, wondering where he would go and who he would spend his time with. I knew he wasn't happy, but didn't know how to make anything right.
Bombarding him with questions only caused him to retreat, angry and annoyed. As I hung up the phone, crushed and fragile, I fell apart. I began to cry. And then I found I could not stop.
When I finally could, I was exhausted. I felt like a hollow shell.
Andrew was napping, and I decided to soak in the bath tub.
I ran the water and waited, dazed, for it to fill. I knew my eyes looked hollow, glazed over, and I was glad I had a couple hours to pull myself together before my mom came home from work. I climbed into the hot water and sunk down. The house was eerily quiet.
I tried to summon the strength to snap back, to find some source of life, vitality, determination inside me. Something that would carry me through.
I felt nothing. I didn't even have the strength to cry again.
I slouched down, deep into the water, leaving only my nose and eyes uncovered. My ears were immersed. I could hear my blood rushing through my body, and nothing else.
And I prayed. "God? Where are You? Why can't I hear You? I pray and pray and pray and I hear nothing. Nothing."
I don't know how long I stayed there like that. All I know is once the water started to feel cold, and I pulled my head out of the water, I heard something loud and clear: Andrew was screaming at the door.
The sound of his scream was so loud it was almost deafening. My heart leaped into my throat as I scrambled out of the tub, quickly grabbing a towel, and opened the door. Thankfully he was fine, likely just panicked that he woke up and couldn't find his mama.
I got him calmed down, got myself calmed down, and then got dressed.
And then I began to think. Poor Andrew! He had been screaming his little heart out at the door and I couldn't hear because my head was under the water. He was banging on the door for all he was worth and I was oblivious.
What I heard next was not quite audible, but almost. It was that real, that clear, that tangible. God spoke. My spirit heard Him.
"That is how it is with you, Amy. I have been speaking, trying to get your attention. But you were submerged in your grief, your despair, your desperation. Like Andrew at the door, you could not hear Me. But I am here. I am speaking."
C.S. Lewis says joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ. All of my problems did not disappear in that moment. I still grieved the precious baby I would never again hold. I still had strain in my marriage. (In fact, shortly after this, we went through a separation and the most difficult time in our relationship.) I still had to deal with bitterness, insecurity and loss.
But something had changed forever.
I knew He was with me.
And I always have, ever since, in every crazy place I have found myself to this day. That day stands out so clear because it changed me. I know I am never alone. And I know He is always speaking, if I will only find a way to hear....