Day 5: A Friend on the Journey- Guest Post

Today’s guest post comes from my friend, “A”. I don’t know what to say to you about her other than she has a gift with words. She also has pretty hair and a novel that deserves to be published. “A” continues to walk beside me on this writing journey, holding my words in gentle hands, and offering herself and her talent as a mirror so I see myself more clearly. She joins us with her thoughts on facing the journey when the path takes a turn for the worst, and we’re forced to deal with challenges we never expected. Her words are raw and honest, as she grapples with the pain of broken dreams.

“Hopeless Sinner”
Sometimes you’re hit with something so hard you collapse under the enormous weight of it. You don’t give it up to God or let mercy flow over your shattered heart. You don’t feel the rising or look to heaven for answers or know there is a brighter tomorrow. Sometimes shit hits the fan and the decay and ugliness goes spraying across the room and lands in so many corners you just can’t clean it up.  And in that dark stench you crumble into a pile and rock back and forth. You shush yourself like a child. Like you can mother yourself into calm, and manage through the night, and tell yourself that God is here even in this hour.
When you are in dark places, you tend to do dark things. Like spew obscenities with wild abandon and shake violently and wish people dead. You don’t think of how you come across or how you look or how your words roll off your vicious snake tongue. You just try to crawl out of bed and get your children dressed. You stuff food in your mouth and try so very hard to swallow. You ask God to just give you this one pass, for being so hateful and vengeful and full of rage.
Just a few days to let the ugly out. 
Last weekend, I went to a writer’s retreat. Before the sky fell in.  Before the blackness came. Back when life was full of promise and hope and sparkling things. Back when I wore my wedding band and knew how to laugh. Then, before the dividing line, I was surrounded by richness and warmth, music and words. And I was bold. So very bold.
I walked up to Ashley Cleveland, who came all the way from Nashville and fresh off a new album. Her husband was there too, recouping from a tour with Kenny Chesney, enjoying the sound of his wife’s gritty and passionate voice.
I asked them if I could sing one simple song. To hear their Grammy-award winning sounds behind me. It was a song that held great meaning to me, sung by Eva Cassidy when I was struggling through another dark time with cancer. Eva died from melanoma, which was then raging and pulsing through my own veins, and I used to play that song over and over and over. I let it wash over me like a sweet salve and said to myself that I would live. That I would survive. That I’d ride that train to salvation.
I asked if they’d play with me on this one song, and they agreed. So there in a big empty room, with a friend recording and me staring at the skylights, I sang.  It wasn’t perfect. There are moments I wish I could change. But while I was singing, I was filled with the thought that God isn’t sitting around waiting for me. The train is moving and we have to jump on, not knowing where the journey will lead or how it will get us there. We just have to jump. I sang and sang and sang. And when it was done I went back to my room and sobbed tears of great joy.
Just days later, I’ve faced the biggest trial of my life. Bigger than cancer and bigger than me. I wanted to rip my own heart from my chest so I could no longer feel the pain.  I played this song. Over and over again, just like I did with Eva. But this time it was my own flawed voice, earnest and honest and thankful.
So forever thankful.
I know that in this dark deep place, full of decay and rot and all that stench, God is right here. He was there then, and he is here now, and he will be there when I uncurl myself and start to pick up the rotten pieces, slowly and methodically, and despite every morsel my strength will grow.
I don’t need no baggage.  I’m climbing on board.
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