Mine is a story of leaving and being left.
It is a story of somehow choosing to stay.
Through it all, hope constantly finds it’s way to the surface.
~ ~ ~
I wouldn’t fancy myself a dreamer.
Dreams are big and scary and as a small child I was much more accustomed to nightmares. Each night, as I looked up at the ceiling from my white framed twin bed, I would stare at the carousel wallpaper border that lined my room. I would stare at those beautiful horses and convince myself that if I fell asleep while looking at it, I would only have good dreams.
It rarely worked.
It rarely worked simply because there were two white splotches of paint on the window pane that seemed to peek through my blinds like a pair of eyes watching my every move. Lurking in darkness, those imaginary eyes watched me as I slept. The good and beautiful dreams that danced in the air right above me were stolen by these hovering eyes.
I learned at a young age that dreaming wasn’t for me.
I just needed to survive the night.
And yet, there was an underlying hope of the morning.
~ ~ ~
The rug of my carefully constructed plans was ripped out from under my feet. The house of horrors I grew up in became the place I would wrestle with the idea of dreams. It was the place that quickly squelched any remnant of my childhood aspirations. Innocence was snatched away and I stopped counting the times I had been left out in the cold or forgotten somewhere in the pages of decade old photo albums.
My dad left to find comfort. It was available.
My mom left to escape. It was easier.
My sister left to be with my mom. It was temporary.
And I was left somewhere in the charred remains of the life I once knew.
~ ~ ~
That day, a broken wrist started a cycle of abuse that would repeat itself more times than I can count. As I laid on the floor, my arm twisted behind my back, I remember looking up at her waiting for her to act. Waiting for her to scream at him…make him let me go…waiting for her to leave him. She did none of those things.
She sat there. Content.
Another night, another argument.
And I actually believed that Jesus could hear me and wanted to save me. So, I cried out. Unashamedly. I asked him to protect me. To make it all stop. I asked him to help.
He didn’t come.
God wasn’t going to come.
He wasn’t the rescuer that I had imagined him to be.
He wasn’t sitting there waiting to save me from all this madness.
God left because I was too much trouble.
God left because I couldn’t seem to get it together.
God left because I wasn’t worth saving.
Or so I thought.
~ ~ ~
Every so often I can hear Jesus whisper. Every once in a while he feels close enough to reach out and touch. There are times when love seems to wrap me in a warm blanket and tuck me in after the sun has surrendered to the night.
Maybe he didn’t leave. Maybe he chose to stay.
I should have walked away from Jesus. I should have spit in his face and never looked back. There are hundreds of reasons I should have left him. But you see, the thing is, I can’t. Every time I try, I am drawn back in and a new wave of grace washes over me and I resurface, finally able to breathe again. I can’t help but hope that somehow I am still safe and wrapped up in God’s great love for me. I can’t help but lean in to his chest and listen to him assure me that I am his and that I am deeply loved. I can’t help but see my brokenness laid out against his beauty and yet still hope that this relationship can be restored.
I should have walked away from my family. When I packed my car and moved 200 miles away, I should have ripped the rearview mirror of my windshield. There are hundreds of reasons why I should have deleted their phone numbers and blocked their calls. But you see, the thing is, I can’t. Every time I am tempted to deny their existence, I am overcome with a deep love for them and my heart breaks again. I can’t help but hope that things can be different. I can’t help but see their brokenness and yet still hope that our relationships can be restored.
~ ~ ~
Maybe I should fancy myself a dreamer.
Maybe I chose to stay…in spite of it all.
Against all odds and against impossible circumstances, hope rises to the surface. It is in my bones. Even when I hate it. Even when I wish I could just wash my hands of it all and be done. Even when none of it makes sense – maybe especially when none of it makes sense.
I guess you could say I have dreams these days.
Dreams of hope.
~ ~ ~
So here’s to the leavers.
Here’s to those who are left.
And here’s to choosing to stay.