Recycling Hope and Miracle

Annah Elizabeth Leave a Comment

Last month I reunited with Miracle.

I’ve spent many years pushing against her, resisting the mere mention of her name.

Turns out I had been seeing her all wrong.

You see, Miracle isn’t about some prize granted to a select few, Miracle is what happens when we bear witness to life’s marvelous events and amazing qualities.

Miracle is what happens when we discover Love, it’s what happens when our children are born, and it’s inside that startling moment when we unearth the last piece of our grief puzzle.

This morning a car overturned on the highway I take to work.

Two family members are undergoing treatment for cancer.

An acquaintance is coping with life-threatening Melanoma and another is in her final treatments for pancreatic cancer.

Blogger associates are dealing with infidelity, divorce, disabilities, and disease.

And so many are praying that Miracle will pay them a visit.

What I wish each could know is that Miracle is always around us.

She is in the gift of life itself, she’s in the sunrise and the sunset, and in the gentle touch of First Love’s kiss.

She’s in our side-splitting belly laughs.

And she’s there, buried deep inside Hurt.

For all of those things are Us.

And we, you and me and all of us, are integral components of Life’s Marvelousness.

But Tragedy and Depression and Devastation sometimes lead us away from Miracle.

Seven years after Death, in the wee hours of an early February morning, Infidelity and Betrayal split my heart wide open.

They cast a dark shadow over Miracle, an eclipse so broad it would take years before I could see her light again.

At one point, I’d even lost faith in life itself.

But here’s the beautiful thing about Hope and Miracle, Journeyers, they are everywhere.

They’re in the earth we dig each spring and fall, in the uniqueness of each snow flake, and they are the elements that birth our hearts.

Even if we cast them aside, they are there, waiting for us to recover them.

In Digging for the Light, I talk about a time when I resisted Hope, a time when I believed Miracle belonged only to others.

Below is an excerpt from that manuscript. The inset passages are quotes taken from journals I kept during that difficult time.

Thanks for being here, Journeyer.

Here’s to Hope and Miracle in all of the glorious forms.

Hugs and healing…

Soon…

Excerpt from Digging for the Light
I remember collapsing against the face of our washing machine, my body slumping into the fetal position atop the hard, cold floor.
By noon I felt like I was going to burst. I wasn’t sure if I could make it through another hour, let alone the days ahead.
The outgoing minister of our church was moving, literally that day; but I called his house, hoping he hadn’t already left town en route to his new home. I reached him as he was heading out the door, mere minutes before he pulled out of the drive. He spoke with me, prayed for us over the phone, and gave me the name of a woman whom he felt might be able to provide me some guidance.
I called the woman our minister had recommended. Everything I trusted in had been shattered. My husband had betrayed me and our marriage vows in the worst possible way; my friend had betrayed me; I had been abandoned.
I felt like God was punishing me or had flat out deserted me; for how could a loving God allow one person to endure so much pain? How could He allow me to heal from being raped, losing a son, learning I’d (perhaps) been somehow abused as a child, and then allow this affair to go on while I was pregnant?
How could He allow me to get pregnant knowing what was to come? How could He bring another child into a world of confusion, chaos and dysfunction? How could He sit and watch whatever my abuse was as a child and not stop it? How can this God be a loving God?
 You are not alone.
I’d heard repeatedly what people say in times of suffering. “God is not a cruel God. He is a loving God.” Throughout my years, I’d borne the knowledge and witnessed testimonies of so many who were reportedly granted miracles through prayer: “We all prayed… Our prayers were answered… It is a miracle…”
That verbiage is prolific: Newspaper headlines, daily language—including my own—television, radio, billboards, ads…
My headline read: “Prayers never answered. Bail denied. Found guilty.”
I reasoned there must be something wrong with me for God to allow all this sewage to continue to flow into my life; either that, or that the proverbial saw, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle,” was some kind of sick joke, and the joke was on me.
I no longer had any kind of foothold here on Earth. Every piece of hope I’d ever held onto before had just been shredded. My faith in people, my trust; my belief in God, in dignity­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­—every spiritual, emotional, social, physical, and academic part of me lay in a heap to be tossed out with the garbage.
It never made it to the garbage.
I recycled it instead.
* * *
I spent roughly an hour with the woman. I returned home and logged portions of our conversation.
 “Sometimes God calls us to stay in a marriage, and sometimes he calls us away from it,” she said.
I sensed that her opinion, from what little I told her, was that my marriage didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell. Yet I also knew she was only hearing my immediate pain, that no one could understand all the complexities of our marriage in one short hour.
I writhed in anger and pain, when she reminded me—as others before her had—several times, “You have to think of the baby; you have to take care of yourself for the baby’s sake.”
No shit, Sherlocks!…
Doesn’t anyone understand the chaos I’m in?
 
I was not alone.
You are not alone.
I etched the following words, this Wise Woman’s words, into my mind, into my heart, and into my soul.
 “God is always with us…divine intervention is rare… He was in the room with you when you encountered abuse—He was crying out in pain with you and screaming for it to stop…”
Many people might think this strange, but when she said those words, it was as if I could feel that presence and His sadness and His anguish over whatever I’d endured. I could actually feel that. I know it sounds odd. Yet those few words were all I needed to know, once and for all, that I wasn’t being punished, abandoned, or just flat out not one of God’s children.
Oh, my God. He didn’t pluck my son from my bosom. For any reason. He cried as hard as I did all those days. He knew my pain. He felt my pain, and He cried beside me every step of the way.
Think about this for a minute: picture a God, or spirit, or whatever you want to call it, lounging in a chair with feet propped up, making instantaneous decisions regarding your life, then waving a wand or giving a nod of the head. “Nope. I’m not ready for it to be her turn. Think I’ll rewrite history on this one. But this one, Princess Di, well, her car’s going to be involved in a tragic, fiery crash, and she’s going to die. Sorry, World, but I can’t stop it. I used the last of my daily allotment for divine intervention on Cocaine Carly.” Somehow, this comedic image doesn’t compute.
I recently found myself sharing my newfound thoughts with a fellow employee who believes like I did before my epiphany: “God has a plan.” “When God closes one door he opens another.” Being of a faith that believes God decides every destiny, my coworker’s ire seemed to spark: “How can that woman say divine intervention is rare when He knows exactly the number of days we’re going to live and how we’re going to die?” Somehow, I think, I had offended my associate’s God.
I delicately tried to clarify my beliefs and, hopefully, pass along a slightly altered version of faith: “Everyone says God isn’t a cruel God, but the definition of ‘cruel’ is to inflict pain and suffering. God knows how much pain I was in when my son died. For Him to decide to end my son’s life, to decide to suffocatehim, knowing the suffering I would endure, that’s cruel.”
I had her full attention; I continued explaining my logic.
“It’s possible God might know how long we’ll live, and maybe even how we’ll die, but I don’t believe He sets those events in motion. For if He’s not cruel, why would He decide that children were to burn alive in house fires or die from starvation? Why would He elect people, great people who have served others, to die slow, painful deaths from cancer and other diseases? Would a kind God choose to throw little old ladies down flights of stairs when ‘their time is up’? ”
The muscles on this woman’s face relaxed. Her mouth took on the shape of a halo. “Oh,” she said softly, her brain clearly registering my message, “He doesn’t decide how and when. He allows it.”
“Exactly!” A rush of hope coursed through my veins. Maybe people can embrace this different point of view. Maybe I can help resolve someone else’s conflict. Maybe I can make a difference in this world. “That’s a great way to put it! He allows it because He knows that for life to be sustained there must be death. There are only so many resources on Earth, and if everyone lived, we’d all die. That’s why divine intervention is rare. Our suffering is His pain, too.”
Since the first time I read it as a young girl, the poem, Footprints, has given me great hope and inspiration.
It is my wish that everyone suffering can someday look out over their beach, as I have mine, and know that someone, or something, carried them, if even for a brief while.
Oh, my God. He has also celebrated every good thing that’s happened in my life. He, too, danced with the butterflies on my third Mother’s Day and smiled. What a revelation I’ve just now come to know!
With one fragment of my mortal existence coming back together, I began to hope. I realized my life wasn’t worthless; I wasn’t useless. That piece, as I now see it, was only one-fifth of my being, the spiritual part of me. But with that knowledge, I was able to begin dissecting the different academic and emotional components of my grief, one piece at a time.
With the help of my counselor, I learned that adultery is simply another form of loss. In my case, like many others, I lost two of my best friends, one of which was my husband, with the zip of a zipper. I lost the security of trust, my belief in the sacredness of friendship, along with hopes and dreams of the future. I had to grieve those losses…learn to accept them…put them into a perspective I could live with…and then move on.
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