“Not so my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD.” – 1 Samuel 1:15 TNIV
I consummated my relationship with my latest boyfriend the night before. In the past, it would have been a time of euphoric reflection. Today, however, as I waited for my best friend at the local coffee shop, the bright light and humid July morning combined to create a sickening unease that was spreading through my thoughts and churning my stomach. I quickly tried to quell whatever had taken hold of me with gulps of latté.
I had hoped, as I always did, to have found my prince. I had settled instead for the first guy who had taken notice of me. When I had taken a second long look at the man sprawled on my bed that morning, I wished life came with a delete key. Then I hurriedly dressed and called Cathy.
Cathy, like me, had spent the better part of the night in drink and abandonment and her normally heart-shaped face was puffy and pale behind large sunglasses. She passed the outdoor table, mumbling that she’d be back and emerged with a large cup moments later.
“You’re a trip!” she said, adding some choice curse words to let me know how irritated she was by my insistence that we meet.
“I needed to talk,” I told her quietly.
Cathy rolled her head back against the chair with a long sigh.
“Go ahead. I’ll listen.”
I talked for the better part of an hour about how my life was not panning out as I had hoped. I was 25 and by now I should be rich and famous or attached to someone rich and famous. Instead, some invisible force drew me to bars on the weekend where I joined the throng desperate to find some sense of belonging, some oneness. All I encountered was a bone-numbing indifference. Faces passed by distorted and leering. I was aware that time was flying past and I had no purpose. On top of everything I wasn’t sleeping nights, but rather paced aimlessly around my little studio with rock music piping through my headphones. My job was a dead-end and my lack of sleep had begun to show up in embarrassing mistakes.
“So where do you think I should go from here,” I whined piteously to my friend’s head which was now slumped over on the table.
Cathy raised her head and stared at me.
“Why don’t you get religion or something,” she said with a shrug, sounding a lot like a commercial narrator with fake enthusiasm: "Why don’t you try Sudsy Soap today!”
“Yeah, religion. You know, God, heaven, church. Religion.”
Cathy took some slurps of coffee.
“Where did you get that idea?” I asked blinking at the woman I thought I knew.
“Why not,” she said solemnly. “Sounds like you’re dying out here.”
Her words brought back the crummy feeling in my head and stomach. Dying? Dying! Out here. Out where? What was dying? Me? My dreams?
Cathy, it turned out, had tried Buddhism at one point and some New Age stuff, but had tired of both and had settled on yoga classes.
“I don’t know what will work for you,” she said, getting up to leave. “But it’s worth a shot.”
I returned home. My boyfriend was gone. Maybe there really was a delete key. I thought about turning on the stereo, instead I sat in the living room, listening to the air conditioner’s mechanical purr.
I felt shocked by her words. “ . . . dying out here.” Without warning, bitter tears started welling up then pouring uncontrollably down my face. I buried my head in a pillow and wept all afternoon.
By evening, I lifted my head and watched sunrays and shadow shift across the room. There was a sense of something rising inside of me, an intense need to call out. I obeyed without hesitating. I pressed my hands together in front of my lips like I remembered seeing “Precious Moments” figurines of a child do. I began to pray. Stumbling words. Somewhere inside of me, and yet, more beyond me, I felt like God was there listening closely, deeply. I promised to seek him with all I had in me. He promised to show me how to keep my soul from dying.
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