This was the first time I told someone that the last year had been too much. That the death, the illness, the work, the school, the college, the change, it had all been too much. I told her how the last three years, I have felt a hole inside of me that would come and go, and when it came it was hard to wake up in the morning and when it went, I did nothing but dread its return.
What I didn’t tell her was, through it all, there had been a bright side. In my junior year of high school, I had finally accepted Jesus’s undying love for me whole heartedly, I had dove in deep, head first. I was happier, I could breathe again… but then November of my senior year hit and the news came, that not only one, but both of the most important women in my life were being affected by a disease that didn’t seem like it was ever going to leave our family alone.
One night, I sat down, destroyed. The hole back, enveloping me in its darkness, cascading over me, and that was it. I sat there on my bed, and screamed. I screamed at God for letting this happen to these people I held so dear, I screamed at him for delivering to us what seemed like blow after blow. I screamed at him for ruining my senior year, a year that was finally supposed to get easier. I screamed at him, and I told him I was done, that I hated him and that I was moving on.
My life, well it continued to get worse. I was sad, in pain, I secluded myself from almost everyone in my life, I scrapped by for the last semester of my senior year, I did nothing but go to school and work. I was miserable. There was no joy, no beauty, I felt numb. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that I was finally going to get out of high school, this place where I had experienced so much pain, thinking that would be the cure.
It was a nice bandage for a while, graduating high school, having a few months to relax. That was until August came, and it was time to leave my mom and my house, and move to Boulder. That was when the weak bandages were ravaged. It was fine the first few weeks, but I had this gnawing feeling in my stomach, something I had known all too well, the hole, growing inside of me. It was terrible. I felt like I couldn’t function. Every time I talked to anyone in my family on the phone I cried to them about how miserable I was, how I didn’t feel good. And that is how I ended up in the therapists office.
I continue to receive treatment, now for two months, and I have been feeling good. However, there was something more heavy weighing on my heart.
When the weight of it finally became too much, on a morning a few weeks ago, I finally opened up to someone about it. Someone who I knew was a Christian, but didn’t know me well enough to know that I had been too, or that I had been faking it with my mom going to church every Sunday and rejoicing at the fact that I had to work on the Sundays that I didn’t go, because that meant I didn’t have to face what I had said, what I had told God back in November. I opened up to this person and explained how this had been weighing on my heart. We had a long conversation, which ended with her suggesting to me a book by a CU grad, Stephanie May Wilson, The Lipstick Gospel.
That night I went back to my dorm and started The Lipstick Gospel. I read this story about a girl who went to my school, who was at the lowest point in her life, when she began to discover Jesus. I read almost the entire thing that night, it was a beautifully written recollection of Wilson’s times in college and studying abroad in Spain. It was enough to make me want to get up off of my bed and head to the study abroad office to figure out the soonest I could get to Spain myself. The story was good, and I was admiring the way she slowly walked into her faith in Jesus, she wanted it so badly, but it wasn’t coming, she was learning about him through amazing friendships and amazing experiences.
One experience in particular that she recalls in the book is of a week long trip, during her study abroad in Spain, when her and her friends chose to go to Italy. While in Italy they visited the Sistine Chapel, where they saw the beautiful paintings of Michelangelo that cover the ceilings and the beautiful history that surrounded such a place. It was in this recollection of the Sistine Chapel wherein my own heart changed.
In this part, Wilson recalls seeing Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam above her, a painting I myself have loved since the day I saw it, but never as much as I do now.
She recalls her tour guide explaining the painting like this, “I want you to look up and notice something on the ceiling. Look in the very center at Adam and at God. God is reaching out to Adam, His arm fully extended, His muscles straining. Adam, on the other hand, looks like he’s relaxing after a big meal. His arm is limp, and his finger is barely trying. If Adam just reached, he could touch God. But whether he does or not, God is still reaching for him. God will always be reaching for him.”
When I read that last line, I burst into tears, “God will always be reaching for him.”
I cried. I cried an incredible amount. I cried so much I had to leave my dorm room, praying that my roommate wouldn’t see me sob (I am sure she did, it was unmistakable, s/o to Cassi). I ran outside in the cold weather and called my mom, pouring all of my thoughts from the past year out to her on the phone. We cried together and she encouraged me to go to God.
I still have a long way to go in my faith, but I know that no matter the circumstances, good or bad, it is all for His glory, and his overwhelming grace surrounds me and allows me the chance to be a part of His plan, and for that I am so incredibly thankful.
Buy The Lipstick Gospel