This morning, I sat with a lump in my throat the size of Texas and desperately tried to find space around the margins to take a few fragile breaths. And instead of trying to swallow the massive crater down, I was told to sit with it hanging in my throat, merging into my chest cavity, causing me to gasp for air like a 400-meter sprinter after taking an olympic gold medal.
As I felt the swelling of what seemed like at least ten life-times of pain and suffering sitting in my throat, begging to be dealt with, I felt the compulsive urge to swallow the hugeness of my burdens back down, into the depths of my gut. That’s what I have learned to do. Because there is no space for the colossal expression of layer upon layer upon layer of anguish that is housed in my frail, broken body. It has remained internalized, swallowed down, a toxic malignancy that I fear exposing to the air, poisoning those I love.
But today, instead of swallowing, I simply sat with it hanging painfully in my throat and chest. With a buzzer in each hand, held in the balance of a rhythmic modulation of vibrations, I let the boulder rest in my awareness, and I grappled with the magnitude of suffering, the world of hurt, the labyrinth of uncertainties and unanswered questions, the trauma of near-death experiences and physical distress, and what feels like more than a broken body and flailing soul can dare to handle alone.
With the mass of suffering, hurt, death, and illness resting in the back of my throat, I trusted.
I waited. I let it hang in limbo.
And somehow, I kept breathing. I saw rivulets of air weaving their way around the mass of pain with ease and alacrity. Never for a second was I in danger of suffocating or being destroyed by the load that I craved to swallow back down. Tears streaming, cheeks burning, I still breathed with ease, the grace of the moment making its way to the surface like a million little estuaries, never failing or ceasing their flow of life.
Ten tiny years ago, desperate to end my life, I could not handle the mass of pain and suffering that seemed to cut off my hope, my life, and my calling. I looked into the abyss of hopelessness and sought a way out. I was eclipsed by the mass. No longer able to swallow it down, not daring to expose it to the light of day, I surrendered my commitment to this life. I could not find the streams of hope, pouring air into my lungs, pressing around the mass of suffering seated in my chest.
Today, when asked why I still hope, I chuckle with a bit of confusion at the thought of releasing my grip on this world. The miracle of hope, which sustained me even when I could not see or grasp it, continues to sustain me today. Today, however, it is my ally. Life feels suffocating. The weight of layer upon layer of suffering and agony at times feels as it it is too much to handle. But this present desperation is different than my former despair; for I have a hope. Instead of lonely despair, I am desperate for the One, my Hope.
I have seen the power of the One who heals broken souls. I have felt the touch of the hand of the Comforter in the darkest hour of the night of weeping. I have been lifted by dozens of hands of those who love me and are committed to my care when I cannot carry myself. I have felt the support of the words and utterances of a hundred voices who selflessly have cried to the Father on my behalf. I have been held in the arms of the Almighty Lover of my soul who bulldozed death so that I might live.
In light of the works of the Lord my God, I have no idea how to give up. It is no longer even a hint of an option.
I have seen the magnificent healing of the divine mender of souls, and I have been restored to a life that I never dreamed possible.
So today, ten years after I tried to take my life, I scoff at the hint of the disappearance of hope.
I know Hope. He continues to offer streams in the desert and a way in the wasteland, and He will not stop.
I know Faithfulness. He is my light and my salvation. He is the anchor of my soul. He is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation.
And here we are, all of us, walking around, trying to swallow down our own worlds of hurt, pain, and unspoken broken. Some of us feel the burn of our lungs, the suffocating grip of our grief, our weight that comes with being human: broken humans in a broken world, screaming at the top of our burning lungs: “Come Lord Jesus!!!!”
And here is the Savior in His grace, sustaining us, weaving streams of grace in the form of oxygen through our sorrows, our burdens, our deepest griefs, and bearing the weight of our pain with us.
As He is bowed in the garden, holding all of our boulders in His heart, and His sweat dripping mixed with blood to the ground, his human support group collapsed in exhaustion, alone, He keeps breathing, unwilling to give up until He can utter “It is finished!”.
I am not alone in my suffering, and I am not alone in my hope. With humanity, I bow with the Man of Sorrows, the one who made it possible that we, Children of God, could bear up under the burden of sorrow and suffering.
Hallelujah, what a Savior!