The rain was falling steadily on the windshield as Abby pulled out of the driveway. It was part of what appeared to be just another fleeting summer storm, as the clouds overhead moved speedily along as if they wouldn’t be sticking around for long. Abby silently wished that the storm within her heart would disappear as quickly as the thunder and lightning, but she knew it would probably stick around for a long time to come.
She had no idea where she was going when she got in her car that day, but simply got in and drove, with no destination in mind. Before she knew it, Abby found herself driving in circles in her tiny hometown. She wiped away another tear as she passed by the same old houses, same schools, and same old small town businesses again. Every building and street she passed told the story of her life.
The first house after the stoplight was where she and her best friend Jenny had played countless rounds of Hide and Seek before they grew too old for those childish games. The tiny store on Maple Street was where she’d gone shopping with her dad so many years before, always trying to sneak an unhealthy treat into the cart before he would notice. He always noticed, but every now and then he’d leave whatever sugary food she’d chosen in the cart. It was the simple things like that which made her feel so loved back then.
Abby quickly turned down a different street, hoping to get away from the happy memories. Life wasn’t as simple as childhood games and ice cream anymore, and she could eat all the sugar in the world and still not feel happy, or loved. The saddest part about it was that she had no idea why she felt this way, or when it had started. She simply knew that one day she was happy, and the next day, it just felt like something was sort of…missing.
“What’s wrong Abby Sue?” her mother would ask her on the phone. “You just don’t sound like yourself.”
“Oh I’m fine,” she would always reply. “I’m probably just tired.”
And she was fine. Nothing was really wrong, but still nothing felt right. She was tired of just being…fine. Shouldn’t there be more to life than “fine”?
She sighed as the memories from the street she’d been on slowly faded in the rearview mirror. She wanted to run as far as she could away from those memories, from the places and buildings and people she knew so well. Yet, deep within, she had no idea why she was running, or where she was trying to get to.
The tears had almost come to an end when suddenly she saw an old church steeple in the distance. Right away, hundreds of memories flooded her mind all at once, and though she told herself she didn’t want to, she kept driving until she reached the church. Pulling the car to a stop in the empty parking lot, she stared straight ahead at the words on the sign.
“Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Was this what she’d been missing all along? She’d spent so much time at that church as a child…attending Sunday school, memorizing Bible verses, winning little star-shaped stickers for her skills and good behavior. She’d sang in that choir, stood on that stage wearing angel wings in Christmas plays, and she had known every hymn in that little red book. Then one day she grew up and all of the scriptures, all of the hymns, all of those Christmas time messages, hadn’t felt real to her anymore. Until now…
The one thing she’d been running from was the one thing she should have been running fast and furiously towards.
As the rain drops faded to a sprinkle on the glass, Abby bowed her head in the front seat of her car.
“Dear Jesus, I’m sorry I’ve been running from you for so long. I’m sorry for all of the horrible things that I’ve done. I believe you are real, and I believe what that sign says. Here I am Lord. Please forgive me, and please give me rest. Amen.”
When Abby drove away from the church, a feeling swept over her that she’d never known. She couldn’t really pinpoint it with a single word…not happiness, but joy. She felt joy. She felt loved. She felt…peace.
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