Think of the frustration that comes from listening to a dog constantly bark in the background while you’re trying to hold a conversation. That’s what the passed couple of months have felt like for me. Bear with me; if you can relate at all.
Family drama had left me stressed and anxious. I was close to a breaking point when my boyfriend and I arrived at the beach house for family vacation in South Padre, TX. The air conditioner in my car went out halfway there, and heat and agitation rushed in about what it would cost to fix it. Life wouldn’t stop.
My brother was engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Anais the next evening in the most beautiful engagement I’ve ever heard of. It was a lovely night, and I enjoyed having my boyfriend meet my extended family and see my smiles with him by my side. I was so excited to welcome Anais as my new sister-in-love. I couldn’t wait to spend a week in celebration and let everything else fall by the wayside.
As I was on the edge of sleep the next evening, I heard my boyfriend’s voice and my mother’s screams in the hallway. I jumped up and found my mother laying on the floor with my boyfriend stooping to pick her up. She had fallen down a flight of stairs and was clutching her right shoulder. After an emergency trip to the ER, almost 24 hours with a dislocated shoulder, demands to transfer hospitals, and a surgery scare later, we learned my mother also had a fracture that would take at least 8 weeks to heal. Exhausted, fearful, and emotionally drained, we brought her home early and did our absolute best to take care of her in the wake of what had happened.
There is nothing to describe the worry that takes over you when your only surviving parent is wheeled in for possible surgery. Nothing.
I have never seen anyone in that much pain in my entire life, and she had grace and strength beyond my capacity to describe. It is an honor and privilege to be one of my mother’s daughters and to get to be the one that is there for her. We were breaking in it all though. She had sadness in thinking about my father, alone in a hospital and undergoing care without knowing we were in the next room. She mentioned it often. When I saw my dad for the first time after he passed, one of the first things I said to him was “I’m so, so, sorry you were alone….” I knew that aching she was feeling with every moment in that hospital bed.
My boyfriend has made it a point for us to go to church every Sunday, rain or shine. We have friends who had been asking us for months to go to a new church in downtown San Antonio. We were finally able to meet them there the next Sunday.
We pulled up, looking for parking, and I saw the signs. Signs that said, “SMILE!” “Sunday is our favorite day!” “Welcome home!” Oh God, I thought. I’m about to throw that 12 year old some shade. What the heck? “Smile!,” now? Forget it.
I honestly couldn’t care less about the smiling faces that greeted me in the entry. We walked into the darkened Sanctuary, worship music already in progress.
I watched the women leading worship and wanted to hate their beautiful faces and hair and voices. I asked myself why I was so angry, and in the middle of a song about trusting God I began praying in tirades.
“You want me to trust you right now? You said we would be okay without Dad, but look at us! You want me to trust you with my mother’s healing? YOU let Daddy die! You let him die, and I don’t know what I am supposed to do without him and his wisdom and his hugs and him telling me it’s all going to be okay…. I’m SO MAD at you! How could you allow this to happen to my MOM; she’s been so faithful to you! How is Mom supposed to do this alone? How I am supposed to be okay with you?”
Almost against my will I felt my heart begin to soften.
“I know I won’t feel this way forever. I know I will come back to You. But I’m so ANGRY with You right now.”
I felt the tears burning in my eyes couldn’t stop the flow. I couldn’t have the tears at a new church filled with strangers, and our friends sitting behind us. So embarrassing.
I felt a whisper, a beckoning there, in the midst of worship. “Why can’t you come back now?” I wiped more tears as my favorite song played in background of what was happening in my heart. “Oceans, (Where feet my fail)” broke me. I said, “Okay, I need you. I need you now.” to Jesus. I had a new chance to breathe.
What have you not given to Jesus? What needs His redemption?
My boyfriend and I excitedly went back the following Sunday. A pastor explained that we were created for Eden. He said that Eden is not a place you can find on a map. He invited us to think of it as an atmosphere that allowed God to fellowship, to walk with His children. When sin entered the world, that atmosphere was taken away. We malfunction without Him, without His presence. We worship before Church every Sunday to invite that atmosphere, to invite His presence, so we can be made whole again.
I knew instantly, recalling my previous week’s experience that I had walked into that. I walked right into God, into His arms, and He didn’t fail to meet me. I still have tears and chuckle as this is my “favorite day” I’ve had ever had with Jesus.
In seeking Jesus every day since, I am a new Anna. I have something to GIVE, for the first time in what has felt like a long season of drought. I have a chance to try things differently, not in my strength, but in His. We all have a second chance, walking into Eden.
Anna Hull lives in San Antonio, TX. A graduate of Schreiner University with a B.A. in Religion & Political Science, Anna is passionate about finding Jesus in every day life. She enjoys unexpected adventure, making genuine connections with others, and finding beauty in chaos.