Like whispers of God in the depths of my heart… Shells uncovered by the storm the night I flew into Georgia wash up onto shore as I walk the morning…
I didn’t want to go.
Even though a part of me did.
Back and forth, I couldn’t decide.
It was a last-minute decision — whether I should really get on a plane and fly to Savannah, Georgia, to spend time with my (in)courage sisters.
The morning I was supposed to be packing, I laid in bed.
I wrapped the covers around me. I didn’t want to go anywhere.
That’s what happens when I start feeling anxious. I feel cold. My body is hijacked, preparing for something threatening, and my nervous system gets focused getting ready to take flight or fight.
I feel light-headed.
I don’t want to leave the safety of my home. I like being able to just be by myself — or control when I would see people and how I would let them see me.
I didn’t want to risk social engagement. I don’t have the emotional strength to figure out what to say, to whom, when to say it and how.
It’s odd because my therapist tells me this is actually good — not trying to figure everything out.
It means moving out of survival mode and allowing myself to be — as is. Thawing out to come alive.
Free to be full as well as broken.
Free to be me.
It would be my first airplane trip in two years. Since I’ve experienced post-traumatic stress.
I’ve had a breakthrough earlier this spring.
I began to write about my story stumbling through brokenness and overwhelming stress — in hopes of taking others a journey to discover God’s voice in their stories and celebrate the beauty of faith.
But, my journey of faith has just begun. I need God even more. Every waking moment. Of every day. And every midnight hour I breathe on my bed.
You’re not okay, Bonnie. I heard Jesus whisper on my heart.
And that’s okay.
I want you to go.
Because I love you.
Just the way you are.
I don’t know why, but I just cried and cried and cried when those whispers hit my heart — like the first pelts of rain in autumn dropping from sky onto dirt, dried and cracked, caked over by the summer heat.
I didn’t know what would happen if I stepped onto an airplane to go somewhere unfamiliar with so many others. I was scared. But, I wanted to believe God loved me — as is.
So, I dragged myself over to the keyboard, shaking and with lips trembling, I wrote an email to everyone telling them how afraid I was — how I might burst into tears all of a sudden or suddenly get really quiet — but how it’s okay if that happens.
It’s part of my journey to heal.
I wanted to be present.
Even if it meant I wouldn’t be perfect.
I wanted to go.
As I clicked “Send”, I knew there was no going back.
Maybe the only way out is ahead.
Even if it means I might fall apart. At least I would fall apart being known — rather than being lonely.
I Couldn’t Take It
As I buckled myself into seat 18A on an airplane buzzing, rattling and roaring down a long runway, I closed my eyes and started feeling panic hit the pit of my stomach.
As the plane started shaking, accelerating and slowly starting to tilt my body up, I felt the push of anxiety starting to gather and wind up tight inside me. I covered my eyes and face with my hands and instinctively bent down low, jackknifed with my head leaning towards my chest. But, the anxiety wouldn’t stop.
I held my breath waiting for the my body to resolve itself, but the higher the airplane climbed, the more terrified I felt.
I couldn’t take it any more and completely became overcome with gut-wrenching sobs, breaking into waves of pouring tears.
I pushed the button for the flight attendant. And asked her through choking tears, Can I have a glass of water? And Kleenex?
I can’t hear what you’re saying. She couldn’t decipher the words I was struggling to get out.
And there I cried in, squeezed in economy class, embarrassed by the sound of my messy unraveling breaths against the thick hum of the flight.
I tell you this story because I learned on that flight what I would have never learned if I did not fall apart with Jesus in that disorienting space between earth and air, praying so desperately — Help. me. Jesus. —
Sometimes, you have to be present.
Even when you’re most afraid.
Even if it means you will see a side of yourself that you don’t want to see.
Because if you take those reticent steps holding onto Jesus’ hand, you will find yourself in His arms if you do collapse.
Sometimes, there comes a time when there is no going back.
Gather Your Courage
You may be looking ahead of you at the next step and it isn’t one you want to take either.
But, you also know the journey that’s led you to where you stand today isn’t one you want to repeat and go down again.
So, you will have to gather the courage you have. Even if it’s as small as a mustard seed.
Your courage may feel so tiny, it seems like any sudden gust of wind will blow it out of your grasp.
It’s okay. That’s how the the Kingdom of God lives inside you.
Jesus will be your courage.
He will be your best step ahead.
Because He loves you.
He. loves. you.
He will never let you go.
Twelve hours later after leaving my house, two airports, a connecting flight, and another car ride, I found myself stepping into the entryway of a beach house on Tybee Island, one carry-on bag and a laptop strapped onto my shoulder.
Hands of friends swooped in to hug me, invisible hands slipped the bags from my body, as I trembled, shook, broke down and fell apart — tears pouring out of every pore in my body. It was there I sobbed as quietly as I could into the arms of sisters and friends, who kept whispering, “You made it. You made it. You made it.” Over and again.
And I knew, in the deepest parts of me, the little girl in me who is broken had taken her first steps out into the real world.
She was present.
I don’t understand how, but I felt full and broken at the same time.
And it made me feel both sadness and soul-changing beauty.
I was present.
Are you taking steps out into the world — in a way you never would’ve chosen for yourself too? Yet, faith is calling you ahead?
Dare yourself to take one step to be present.
Tell someone your fears. Let someone in your journey.
You can start the way I’m doing here. Give yourself permission to write the words you’re feeling in your heart. Write in community. It is a powerful movement to being present.
Let your voice be heard.
Be present now.
Pull up a chair. Click to comment. Let’s share.
Written by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in everyday life.
Looking for some company on the faith journey? Join me as make my way on my blog Faith Barista.
Psst… Do you like to write to express your heart – journaling or blogging? I want to invite you to share your faith journey in community with me in a weekly Blog Link-up called Faith Jams. I serve up a weekly writing prompt and we swap stories. I’ve been away recovering, but I’m ready to write together again. Click here to read more. Then, click here to sign up for more information.