The cashier at Seven-Eleven is trying to figure out if I’m on drugs. I’m pretty sure, because he is suddenly attempting to ask me basic questions (“you okay? you good?”) and making eye contact when the other embarrassingly large number of visits here this week haven’t featured any conversation. It’s mostly the same guy, though. He looks genuinely concerned for my welfare, though, and that’s kind of nice. It’s been the week of icees, because my hyper stressed stomach has decided not to tolerate anything else. Sometimes I put protein powder in them because I’m well aware of the fact that sugar and ice isn’t really a balanced diet.
It’s been the hardest week of my life. No contest, really. Stress. Stress in every possible form. I cried a lot, then I stopped crying. My phone autocorrects the letter I to “I’m sorry” because I keep having to apologize to people. For being a mess. For being overdramatic. For being distant. The whole shebang. I made a sticky note of names, and I make myself be in touch with them periodically. Because I’m tired of making people worry, but I’m also not social enough this week to remember to do this myself.
There’s a half written letter to Robyn taped to my refrigerator. I started it in Waco with a lot of exclamation points and happy faces. The thing is, it’s harder to seem okay in a five page letter than it is in a ten word text. I’m getting good at that other one. Turns out it’s pretty easy to plagiarize happy-me in text form.
She turns up occasionally, happy me. For a second with a patient in the clinic who is small and sassy and adorable. For ten minutes in a restaurant with new friends, laughing like I’m five hours away. She’s not gone. I know that.
There’s just a lot of stuff right now. New houses and boxes and car accidents and tests and tension and loneliness. Sitting in the pool with friends with nothing to say because we all just need some kind of encouragement and none of us have anything left to give.
I don’t want to be that. I want to have joy, even when I don’t have happiness. I don’t want to have to constantly repress, explode, apologize, repeat to everyone who cares about me. I’m really, really tired of telling all of you that I’m sorry (but I am. I’m really sorry).
So it’s Saturday and I’m grabbing another icee at seven eleven (but the good news is that I ate lunch, and my stomach feels pretty good about life). They have the watermelon flavor, and that’s a really great thing. I’m going to go home and unpack boxes and study for this test. Because it’s the small, faithful things that help get life back in order. Reading verses that seem impossible, but believing them anyway. Having hard conversations in a monotone, but calm, voice. Checking in on people you care about, even when you don’t feel like you have the energy for a conversation. Praying. praying in a way that leaves a lot of room for the Holy Spirit to intercede.
At this point I’m becoming confident that this will end. I can see lights at the end of the tunnel. Some of them have faces, others are more abstract. I feel like the narrator in The Great Divorce, a wispy ghost slowly but steadily becoming solid. It’s ironic because CS Lewis is the George MacDonald in that metaphor. I’ve read through four of his books this week.
God uses the thin times to speak the most clearly. I’m certain of that. I’m certain that His voice has been loud in my ears this week. It is woven into the words I read and the voices of friends and the way a patient grabs my hand as she’s falling. I talked to two very sweet older twenty somethings who work at the clinic this week, and they assured me that it’s normal for this to be a hard year. They said it gets better, and I’m choosing to believe them. I know a lot of my friends are there, too. In the thin places where things are just hard, and it’s a lot of stuff. I want you to know that I’m praying His voice is loud in the quiet. For all of us.