"When I was twenty-four..."
When I close my eyes and think about the first sentence of the book I'll write someday, these are the first words I see on that first page. It's always this, "when I was twenty-four..." For the longest time I haven't been able to finish that sentence. I hadn't been able to look around and realize I'm in the middle of the event that made twenty-four so memorable that I would begin a book with its story.
Twenty-four has so far been ten months and eight days of wild discovery. For the last year I've lived in the room across from the kitchen in a domestic violence shelter, holding hearts with the familiar rips and stains as mine. I've continued to care for two little people who day in and day out, bravely seek to find the true definition of patience and show it to me on a sticky, love soaked, crayon colored pages. I've looked a dream I didn't know I had square in the face and found something that makes my heart come more alive than I've ever felt it before. I've walked along the edge of the deep end of vulnerability and dipped my toe in to test the waters. I've welcomed growth and felt true peace. I've truly lived, and truly loved.
Twenty-four poured so much into my cup, but it also showed me the hole at the bottom. The cup was filling because I had finally found and embraced true gifts for my life from the Father, but was slowly being emptied because the roots of those gifts were anchored in dry, cracked ground. I watched as the level in my cup slowly lowered. I scrambled to fill it with more- more people, more love, more impact, more passion, more missions. More of the things I know my heart was made to sing for. But all the good work, all the best intentions couldn't stop that hole in the bottom of my cup. There wasn't a drop of overflow that could make that dry, cracked soil rich again.
So like the ground I had planted myself in I became dry and cracked. I hid in the silent darkness when the warm kitchen light nudged it's way under my door because I didn't like seeing the reflection of myself in those hearts being rebuilt. I slipped those sticky, crayon colored pages in the recycling bin because the love they were soaked in was too much that day. I woke up from dreams and found reality wasn't the same. I pulled my toes out of the deep end and sat myself on the edge of the shallow. I shrank from the growth I welcomed, I brushed peace aside. I sat completely frozen and watched love fade.
And like a curse or a blessing, depending on the day, I heard the words of my closest people telling me this day would come; I was trying to be and do too much. But unlike the days those words were first spoken, I can't shake them off because I'm looking around and I see they're true. The winds have died down, the dust has settled, and here I am, uprooted from the dusty ground, exposed and here. Here, looking at the past year and beyond, seeing how I tried my hardest to shove my own issues down to stop the hole while filling myself with other people's. Mending their hearts, speaking into their lives, because I couldn't bear to accept the same for my own.
So here I am, holding an empty cup with nothing else to give but the rest of that first sentence,
"When I was twenty-four, I quit my life."
I'm walking away from everything. I'm finishing my twenty-fourth year by walking away from a life I love that I allowed to bleed me dry in the desperate hope that it would fix everything else. I left the dream, I'm finishing the job, and I'm moving on the first day of my twenty-fifth year back to friends in Nashville.
I'm both excited and terrified to see where this new trail in the Trusting Adventure takes me. With a whispered, "it's time", God is leading me back out through the doors I walked through so long ago to and into the ones He planned for me along the way on ground that is dark and rich and full of life.