If you’ve followed the link from my earlier post, welcome to 8 long, emotional days later.
I began that post late on 12/22 and into the early morning of 12/23. About 1am, I shut my laptop, let the cat in, and headed up to bed with the silly puppy. Two and a half hours later, my life changed. I was pushed.
Macy was barking. Not the first time she had done so in the middle of the night. But she was growling as well. And I couldn’t hear anyone outside, no loud music, slamming car doors, or ambulance sirens, for her to be barking at. The more she growled, the more upset I became. What was she overreacting about and why wouldn’t she let it go and go back to sleep? I knew that she heard something, but I couldn’t hear it over the sounds she was making.
Then the fear came. I heard something as well, but I couldn’t be sure what it was. The cat was downstairs, and known to play in the middle of the night. Was he batting around ornaments or ripping wrapping off of gifts? Perhaps he had dug his way into the Christmas wrapping paper organizer, a very cozy spot for a cat who loves cozy spots.
But even as I thought up reason after reason for there to be noises in my home at 3:30am, fear gripped me tighter and tighter. I felt helpless and small. I had begun to shake and tears were rolling down my face. The more time that passed, the less certain I was of what to do. Should I scream? No. I didn’t want to be shut up. Should I let the dog go down and investigate? No. I feared for her safety. And besides, everyone is her friend, even 3:30am intruders. Should I call 911? Yes. It took me 2 full minutes to summon the courage to move over in my bed, reach toward the floor and grab my phone. Then another 3 minutes to do it. Then, once I had finally dialed the numbers, I stopped before hitting send. Now this part you won’t understand. And I don’t expect you to. But I never hit send. What if I was wrong? What if it were just the cat? What if there was a person downstairs and they heard me? What if they heard the sirens as they approached the house and ran upstairs, to where I was, to hide. They had heard my dog bark and growl this entire time and not left yet, so they were not easily deterred. It just seemed like too big of a risk. If they would just take the stuff and leave, I could live with that. So I never hit send.
So I sat there, afraid to call for help, holding tight to my little dog, shaking and staring at the door knob, terrified of the thought of it turning. I sat and called on the blood of Jesus to cover my door and protect me from whatever, be it real or imagined, was out there. I sat there like that for what felt like an eternity, but was more like 40 minutes. Then, when Macy finally stopped growling and fell back asleep, I, out of sheer exhaustion, did too.
I was woken up around 7 by my wife’s phone call. She didn’t see my text message – Baby. Please wake up. I’m scared. – until her alarm went off that morning. When she asked me what happened, I admitted that I still didn’t know. And was still too afraid to find out. The sun wasn’t up yet and the fresh memories of earlier that morning had me shaking again. I would be brave when the sun came up and I would check the house then.
You can probably tell by now that bravery is not my strong suit. But optimism, that most certainly is. So about an hour later, as I headed down the stairs, sun beaming through my windows, I was fairly confident that I would find something toppled over by the cat, yell at the puppy for scaring me half to death, and move on with my day. But the unlocked front door I encountered at the bottom of the stairs quickly burst that optimism bubble. And the scene in my living room elicited a scream of terror and grief as I was confronted with the realness of what had occurred.
I won’t bore you with the mundane details of a burglarized house. Suffice it to say that things are gone and gifts were not given. And Christmas did not go according to plan.
In fact, 2011 did not go according to plan. Mostly because I wasn’t planning on being “pushed” through it. “Push” is the term I’ve come up with to describe these events that appear to be negative — an illness that has been undiagnosed for 9 months, the loss of my job 60 days before Christmas, and our home being burglarized on Christmas Eve eve. And I think it’s an accurate one. I needed to leave my job, an abusive relationship if there ever was one. And, believe it or not, our home being burglarized is pushing us toward some things that we had been postponing until the “perfect” time. I’m not yet certain what this diagnosis is pushing me toward, but I’m certain there is something.
But the challenge with the term “push” is having to remind myself that the Creator is pushing me forward, not down. ‘Cause, if I might be frank, I feel like I’ve got skinned knees and dirty palms right about now. I dusted myself off the first 2 times, but this last one drew blood. My faith hasn’t been tested like this since my niece passed from this world in 2004. It took me a good long while to trust the Creator again after that, a trust I will admit is being tested now.
Tested, but not broken.
On December 23, 2011, I thought that my grown-ness lay in water bills, taxes and in-laws. On December 31, 2011, I know that being grown means being pushed, once or twice or three times even. Being grown means being pushed when it’s inconvenient. Being grown means faith that is shaken but not broken by bloody knees and skinned palms. Being grown means cleaving to the one the Creator has given you in times of trouble instead of allowing the trouble to tear you apart. Being grown means not allowing your circumstances to dictate your perspective or your perceptions. And being grown means smiling — in spite of, because of, in anticipation of.
Pushing forward to 2012…