I’ve been struggling with a few Great Lakes’ worth of discouragement. Somehow the due date for this article morphed in my mind. My article come the first Wednesday of every month, but June 1 is what stuck in my head. Maybe I should write about anniversaries, I said to myself laughing at the idea. But really, how long had it been since that June 1?
Twenty-five years it turns out.
Now who’s laughing? said the other half of my head. You can’t not write about it now.
Still, I would have taken a pass except for these verses from Revelations. Every time I tried to write or even think about writing, the passage came and set up shop like a brick wall two inches from my face. (The proximity of the brick made it difficult to focus on other possible subjects.)
For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who night and day accused them before the throne of God. They defeated him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony… Arguments against my protestations about going naked on the page came from the last part which reads, “love for life did not deter them from death.” (Rev. 12: 10,11)
I am well acquainted with the accuser of the brethren. Silencing the accusations in my head seems to be the cyclical work of a lifetime. For me, they have been much more crippling and difficult to overcome than any life events.
Twenty five ago, June 1, I woke up to my first day as a high school graduate. I spent the morning shopping for luggage with a friend. I was flying off to a life of my own and most of my earthly possessions were packed into those brand new suitcases. My parents were splitting up the next day. I didn’t expect to see anything again unless I packed it. A teacher who had taken me under her wing arrived that evening to pick me up. I loaded my things in her car while she visited with my mother, who at 37 looked old and tired. Before I hugged my mother goodbye, I wanted to say something.
The house with the peeling mint-green paint had not been a good place to grow up. Home was scary, sad, angry, and unpredictable, confusing, sanity-defying, and soul-wounding, but not happy.
“I’ll be right back,” I said. I ran upstairs and grabbed my latest mega-bottle of Pepto Bismol, the best I could do to help with the years-long stomach aches. I remember it was still almost full. My mother was talking by an open garbage can in the middle of the floor. “I’m not going to need this anymore,” I said, and threw the bottle into the trash.
It had never been completely certain that any of us would make it to a day when we could leave. A few weeks shy of age 18, I had in mind that having finally made it out, life would be all downhill from there. I was right and wrong. The only time I have ever had luggage lost on a plane was that time. I began life on my own with the clothes on my body and the random items in my carry-on bag. (The luggage was never found.)
On the way to a healthy life would be some terrible things I didn’t see coming. For a long time I blamed myself for this. For walking out of that house and not knowing enough to make safer choices. But the truth is there isn’t anything to blame that confused and alone 18-year-old girl for. She really didn’t know any better. The grief that my planned utopias didn’t all pan out is gone, replaced with gratitude for the fact that I was held gently through it all by a compassionate and loving God. None of my steps or missteps were wasted. All were received with grace and responded to in love.
It is more than good to recall that day. It is a privilege and a joy to celebrate the day God remembered me. Of course, he remembers all of us every day, but that day is a day to put a stake in the ground about. June 1, 1990, God heard my cry. Today’s discouragements seem so small in comparison.
Sometimes when I’m not sure where God is leading me to, it helps to remember the places that he’s brought me from. The accuser of the brethren hasn’t said much since I started writing this piece. Funny how taking time to remember who I am in light of who God is shuts him up.
The blood of the Lamb was free. This, my friends, is the word of my testimony.
Copyright 2015 Michelle Dawn Jones
Image: The Archangel Michael defeating Satan, by Guido Reni (1635) Public Domain via Wikiart.org