As any writer or storyteller might understand, there are times when you wonder if the words you’re writing should even be shared.
And this is one of those times for me.
I’m scared to put this out there…but when I think about this particular piece of my story and I see the hope and redemption woven throughout it, I’m reminded that sometimes the hardest stories to tell are the ones that need to be told the most.
And so I’m taking a deep breath today and sharing something with you all.
It’s the really, really hard stuff that somehow turned into good…and it brings me back to God and His amazing love for me.
And that’s really why I want to tell this story at all.
So the month of January probably makes a lot of us think about beginnings.
And, being a new mama (again), there’s the extremely obvious reminder of beginnings every day in the form of a sweet little baby boy. (One who is FINALLY sleeping through the night…cue all the angelic singing.)
But lately I’ve looked at him, and between the feelings of immense gratitude and insane tiredness…it sort of hits me square in the center of my heart.
And though I shouldn’t, I think about what might have never been.
Because I remember that night so clearly.
I was sixteen and a junior in high school. The world, at least to my teenage self, had crashed around me. The boy I liked, and had hoped like me as much, had decided he didn’t want to be with me after all. My parents were going through an awful divorce. And, I faced the daily battle of going to school in a place where I didn’t fit in.
It all felt like too much to handle, and I remember that Thursday night, alone in the house on Howard Street, as the tears flowed uncontrollably, and I truly felt that for the first time in my life, I had no one.
I walked from room to room, struggling to breathe, to exist…to find some shred of hope that things might turn around.
And then I grabbed my car keys. Strangely enough, that rusty, ’84 Olds felt more like home than anything else. And so I started it up and sat behind the wheel.
I’m not sure for how long.
I remember drumming my hands on the steering wheel and breathing deep before I slipped the car into reverse, backed out of my driveway, and headed toward the country. (In small-town Iowa, that phrase makes complete sense.) 😉
The tears and sobs continued to overtake my body as I drove on, feeling the pain seep into what seemed like every part of me.
I couldn’t understand how a person could hurt so much and still survive.
I remember thinking, No one will miss me.
And so I hit the gas a little harder and passed the turnoff to a friend’s house. And I just kept going.
Fifty became sixty and sixty became seventy, and the numbers continued to climb as my body shook (and probably my rusty, old car did, too) and my heart crumbled.
At that moment, I didn’t want to live anymore, and I was sure this was it.
I envisioned losing control, I looked for something to hit…I just wanted it to be over. And by all accounts, the way I was driving that night should have ended my life.
And then something happened.
I can’t explain it, and I don’t even really try to understand it.
It was a split second thought…an imagining, really…of what might be someday. And it suddenly didn’t make sense to throw it all away.
And so I let up my foot off the gas and slowed to within the speed limit, drove a little more, and turned around to head back toward town.
The tears didn’t stop, and the intense pain inside me didn’t let up…but somehow there was a renewed hope.
I’d grown up going to church, and I knew it all…and at that time, I wasn’t in the place to just stop and give it all up to God.
It was the beginning of me knowing that I had value to Someone.
The hard truth is that there will be times in life when it feels that we matter to no one.
But we always, always matter to our Father.
And I can’t tie that awful night up into a pretty package and tell you some radical change overtook me in an instant. All I can tell you is that I know what it feels like to hit the deepest bottom possible…and then to feel the whisper of Hope.
And though it would be years before I even came close to understanding His love (heck, it’s still a daily thing for me), that night, I know without a doubt, was His whisper to me that I am loved, even when the rest of the world has let me down.
And so are you, friend.
It’s been almost 22 years since that cold, late-January night, and I still can’t think about it without tears welling up in my eyes.
That night, I almost took the pen away from the Writer of my story because I thought I knew better.
And if I could tell you one thing today, I’d tell you this:
You are loved, you have value, and God has plans for you. Good ones.
Don’t be afraid to let Him write your story and your dreams…the good and bad, the highest highs and the deepest valleys…because He can make them beautiful.
And He will.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Shared by: Mel Schroeder