Today I’m wrapping up my testimony. If you missed part 1, click here.
Near the end of this season of my life, I was on an airplane flying home from a business trip. Our plane ran into turbulence of the cans-of-coke-flying-off-tray-tables-and-hitting-the-ceiling and flight-attendants-falling-down-in-the-aisle and total-stranger-next-to-you-grabbing-your-hand variety. I’m not a fearful flier, but it was one of those moments that makes you suddenly pray, even if you never pray. I suspect most people on that plane were praying that God wouldn’t kill them. I think I also started out my prayer to a God I never prayed to with that mindset, but halfway through my silent words, I just said “F*$# it. Kill me if you want to.”
That was it. That was rock bottom.
I had “friends” and money (and debt) and a great job and a string of crazy exes and ginger ale in my lap and a bottle of pills that made me function and about 27 years under my belt and I was so jaded and depressed and lonely that I didn’t care if I died or not. Let me clarify. I wasn’t suicidal. Being suicidal would’ve required some degree of initiative – I would have had to care enough about how bad things had become to want to do something (however destructive) about it.
Instead, I was just done. I was giving up.
The Law of Conservation of Energy says that in an isolated system, the total amount of energy remains constant over time. I was definitely in an isolated system, so if physics is right, that energy I was letting go of wasn’t disappearing…it was just going somewhere else. Someone else was picking up what I’d put down.
Shortly after that fated flight, from which we emerged covered in peanuts and free beverages, but alive, a girl I knew told me she was hosting a bible study. She told me because it was the first time she’d done it and she was worried no one would show up. She wanted me and some other gals to come so she’d have a full house. I agreed to go, planning to drop out after the first class.
During that first class, I met three girls who I just knew had spent time living on the fringe (we weirdos can always recognize each other). They weren’t goody-goodies who wanted to tell me how perfect and sin-free their lives were. They drank beer while talking about Jesus. They had gay friends and atheist friends and feminist friends and pot-smoking friends. They weren’t the typical Southern “Christians”. I was intrigued, so I kept going to that bible study. I don’t really remember what I learned from the study aside from the fact that Beth Moore likes hairspray. I do remember deciding one day to go to the church that had hosted it.
The pastor at that church on that first Sunday I attended stood in front of a pretty motley artsy crew of people and said that he knew there were people there that day who were suffering, who were hating themselves, who were doubting that God existed. He told us that some of us were profoundly lonely, struggling with pain and addiction and depression. He told us that he was broken, that we were broken, but that we were loved just as we are.
And then, he told us a compassionate truth: that believing in Jesus wasn’t going to magically fix the hurt, the bad, the brokenness. He pointed out that you don’t recognize Christians by how perfect their lives are or how well they fit in, because that’s not how Jesus was. His life was full of suffering and rejection and persecution. Jesus lived on the fringe. Jesus wasn’t “normal”.
Jesus was weird. And I’d spent all this time hating him – a fellow weirdo. He knew exactly what it was like to stand to the side, looking and acting different. He knew exactly what it was like to need to get away from the crowds to be alone with his thoughts. Maybe He had something for me after all, and I had nowhere to go but up. I went back to church the next Sunday and the next and the next and never looked back.
I’ve now spent several years learning what it means to believe in and follow Christ. I’ve put as much energy in to dropping my idols as I once put in to pursuing them and conveniently, this doesn’t drain me. Public Sarah only comes out when I need to schmooze. Hey, we all need to bend to convention sometimes. I have a much less “eventful” social life, but my friends are really my friends and they like me even though I don’t want to dish about celebrities over a pint of ice cream or scrape a drug-addled cohort off a barroom bathroom floor. Ever.
I met and dated a man who is also, gloriously, an introvert. I’m pretty sure he does think I’m weird, but he married me anyway. And that’s okay. Because he’s weird too. And I like him. And I like me. Why did I spend so much time trying to be someone who didn’t live in her head and enjoy her own company? I’m damn good at entertaining myself.
One day, on an airplane, I stopped spending energy life. I didn’t realize that God was in my isolated system and that he’d picked it up. The energy wasn’t lost –just transferred. The Law of Conservation of Energy stands true. God, apparently, is a scientist. I don’t hate him. Probably never really did.