Searching for answers

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I don’t like to think about death. Honestly, who does?

I keep telling myself He won’t take me yet because: I haven’t fulfilled my dreams of getting a book published, getting my PhD in English Literature or Linguistics, portraying Fantine from Les Miserables on Broadway, learning sign language so I’ll know how to communicate when my hearing finally goes; I haven’t completed the myriad things on my ever-expanding “to do” list; I haven’t, I haven’t haven’t. Why haven’t I? What am I waiting for?

Those “things” I want/need/feel compelled to do, those are MY dreams, MY goals, MY needs. Not His. And If there’s one thing I’ve learned, especially recently, it’s that He takes us according to His plans, His time.

Last week, as I strolled into work with my Americano and oatmeal, thinking of Fall and recalling the previous evening spent in the Word with dear friends, my sister told me that one of my childhood friends died. A friend, someone my age, gone. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Gone.

Photo courtesy of Sumayah

The details of her death are buried in tech speak in an autopsy report. I am desperate to know what happened but have to remind myself that the why and the how don’t matter. Not really. What matters is the life she lived.

I haven’t spoken to her in years. At best I “kept tabs” on her through my parents. The last 15 years of her life were riddled with heartache, strife, chaos, and pain. She grew up in the same home church that I did, believing that make-up, short hair, and pants were a symbol (for women, anyway) of eternal damnation. My family fell away from the church, but she and I remained in contact and I even attended church conventions with her during the summers. I admired her strength, beauty, poise, and peace. I truly believed, first as a kid and then as a teenage girl, that she had the answers, that she could see the path, and that I, in my pants, mall bangs, make-up, and TV-watching life, was doomed for the dark path to Hell.

I moved away from my home in the Rio Grande Valley, away from the palm trees, tortillas, the only church I had ever known, and, of course, my friend. Later, when my hubby and I moved back to the Valley, she was dating a guy—the “perfect” Christian (is there such a thing?)—who tooled leather Bible covers and came from a “good” family. By all accounts, she was happy. Then she had an accident. She fell while rollerblading and suffered irreparable damage to her hands and face. Gone was her strength, her outward beauty, and her poise. She recovered as best as she could. The guy, her fiance, stood by her side as any “perfect Christian” should. And then he did the unthinkable. He raped her. Gone was her peace.

The switch flipped and my friend disappeared into a spiraling depression, an abysmal prison with no hope for release. She attempted suicide. Sliced into her wrists so deeply that she lost feeling in her right hand and fingers. I’m not sure she was ever the same after that. No amount of medication or therapy could erase the pain of her truth. I wish I could have helped her, would’ve given anything to help her. But I didn’t have the answers then. I don’t have them now. The only thing I do have is faith.

In my naivete as a youth, I believed my friend could see a path that I couldn’t. Now I know it’s not about seeing the path or even having the answers. It’s not about how short my hair is, if I wear make-up, or if I indulge in watching TV. It—life—is about trusting that my Creator sees the path because He has the answers, and He just wants to meet me where I am. Mall bangs or not.

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