For my friend

In my greatest time of struggle, I knew a pain so deep and limitless that I felt, with absolute assurance, that I would never see the end.

When my mother took her last breathe, she was alone in this world. Alone in her apartment. Alone… But not. She had God beside her, and I believe He ushered her home to the great Kingdom of forgiveness and wholeness by His side. I remember, for me, it was a choice to believe that, because at first, from my earthly place in my dad’s living room in Vancouver, Washington, I saw no grace there. I saw no forgiveness there – in fact, quite the opposite. I saw devastation in the wake of her death, and I saw a hole inside my heart that would never be filled.

Drugs and alcohol steal joy, just as the devil steals joy, and I believe this without reservation. I believe it was the idle evil inherent in this world that stole my mother’s joy, and it stole her breathe as she lay there dying, alone on that big empty bed.

We saw, firsthand, what comes when a person loses the battle.

As the years have pressed on, they surely do, my perspective, and my own ability to see God’s hand in this ordeal, has improved. I know God has given me the choice to see my mother’s death as a tragedy, or as a perfect sign of His redemption. There have been good days and bad, wherein one moment I saw the grace in her deliverance, and then others, when I saw nothing but the dark, twisted fate of a woman entrenched in an evil, unholy place. I have had to choose – somedays multiple times a day – how I would see this… But God has been good to my hardened heart, and thank Him, I have begun to unwrap the layers of my emotion, and finally, I see mostly truth and hope in her death.

That may sound strange, especially considering there is ample proof, even in the history of my writing here, that I struggle with this greatly. However, I can say now that there was light in her journey, and in her death, because now, I know that God redeems even the most broken, heavy souls.

He never left her, not even in the worst moments, and so I know – without any hesitation – that He never leaves ANY OF US.

I don’t write about my spirituality as often as I write about my journey otherwise, though they are integrated, because I feel my relationship with God is my own, and I do not want to open it up to critics whom merely want to doubt me. But I feel that, right now, for very private reasons, because of a conversation I just had with a very dear, very long-time friend, that it is absolutely ESSENTIAL that I share this part of me nakedly.

Because he needs hope. He needs grace. He needs forgiveness. He needs… truth.

That he is not forgotten, worthless, and beyond help. He is not a pile of shit, though he tells himself this in other words; my heart hurts, oh it hurts, because I wanted to reach through the phone and hold him in my arms. I wanted to look into his blue eyes as he wept and make him believe anew that he is a wonderful, unique creation of our holy father. He is beautiful, even in his weakness… No… He is beautiful BECAUSE of his weakness.

In this fragile state, he is most open to the truth about who and what he is. He is most receptive to the healing power of our Lord Jesus Christ, because on one’s knees, in the brokenness of flesh, we come to the Father and we ask, with no words but simply the falling tears on our cheeks, to be forgiven. In that moment, where he is now, all his yesterdays are gone. All his mistakes have already been forgotten.

If he could believe that, if he knew… If he would just listen, and believe, the healing would begin.

You know, there are days I want to scream at the top of my lungs because I want to see my mother again. I want to implore the gates of heaven to open up and send her back, for a single moment, so that I could look into her eyes and she would know that I love her still. She would know… That she is forgiven… For me, yes, but for her… Because that is what the lost, the forgotten, and the broken need to know – and if my words could do that for her, could they not do it for those still living?

My friend, you know who you are, and I know you will read this. Please. Look at yourself in the mirror. Stare straight into your eyes and KNOW that you are His. You are NOT dead. In fact, you are alive again, brand new, and worthy of love. Worthy of trust, and valued beyond measure.

This world may throw stones, and God knows they hurt, but the bruises heal, my love. The bruises fade, and the heart soon knows joy again. Even in the smallest things. A sunrise. A freshly fallen rain. In the faces of your children. In the warmth of a friend’s embrace. In the love in your mother’s beautiful, kind eyes.

Start here, please. Start at the truth. At the heart of everything the cross has done for us. Start here.

Know that you are loved. By so many.

Sure, there are going to be bridges to mend, but does not the mere opportunity that you can mend them prove you are loved? There are going to be hard conversations ahead, and serious work to be done, because this kind of healing is never easy. But these are worldly things, and as hard as it is, you cannot avoid them. They are worldly things, my dear, and that is part of your journey now. But think how that journey looks to God? Think of what kind of strength it took to stand up and walk out of your darkness, one step at a time.

YOU did that. YOU.

You had the courage to face yourself, even when you felt utterly hopeless. You had the strength to turn your back from the devil and walk into a new day.

I know how hard that is, because I saw what happens when someone is NOT that strong. My mother was not that person, but you were. You ARE.

It is in YOU, because God is in YOU. You have everything you need. Start where it hurts the most, face that, but remind yourself of your value and worth as you stare down the hardest parts of yourself. As time passes, the hurt will fade. Believe me. It fades.

You have support, and you have love. But believe that, don’t just know it. Seek it out. Do not fight this alone.

… I never imagined my own history of hurt would be used for good. But this is NOT my redemption, it is God’s. My story is just my story. It was through God’s grace and love, and the light I know is in me, that I was able to overcome my own journey of hardship after hardship. God was there, every step of the way.

And He is with you now, my friend. He will never leave you. And those that really matter, those that really love you, will not leave you either. You have a rally behind you, and we are all so proud that you have the chance to come out of this stronger; healed.

Just believe. Because that is the first and the last step. Everything in the middle is just the work along the way in this swiftly moving world, but the reward, oh the reward, that is eternal.

Please, I welcome your thoughts, perspective, and new ideas on anything I have written here!

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