There is a moment from this Fall that I often find myself drifting back to whilst my thoughts swirl along. A barefoot run on the sandy shore of a beach. In complete isolation, I found myself sprinting through puddles of salty water, with my hair down, sand gritting in between my molars, sun rays freckling my already rosy cheeks; I was racing down along the crashing waves, stepping on shells and rocks with no care at all. The imagery itself is an exact depiction of the feeling I had – absolute freedom.
I rounded the corner of what felt like my own reclusive hideaway and saw a mass of birds resting along the crest of where the water was moving in and out along the shoreline. I stopped running and decided to slowly approach the birds, unfamiliar to the feeling I had inside. I watched the sunset’s reflection glistening above the waves as the pink and orange hues began to overcome the once blue sky. There are few times in my life where I have been as enamored by the beauty surrounding me and even fewer times where I felt as close to the Lord as I did in this very instance. It was a moment I never wanted to end. A moment that in my mind could replay endlessly because it was a moment where I watched heaven coming down to earth.
This Fall felt like being trapped inside a boxing ring for all twelve rounds, fighting tirelessly for victory. Halfway through the deepest and most exhausting fight of my life, I look up, hear the bell ringing, and realize that the person on the other side, a very tough and stubborn component, is myself. Only this version of myself is one that I hardly recognized for the first six rounds. I ran circles and tossed with this enemy in the ring, getting pinned down, bruised and at times annihilated by her. I believed the lies of the crowd cheering for my defeat. My old tricks were no match for this brutal event. My component knew all of my moves and escapes and was throwing new punches I had never once been hit with before. She was whispering lies into my ears about who I should be, who I was and who I was going to become.
At the beginning of the fight I believed her. I let her torture me as she flippantly spoke words of insecurity, loneliness, and unworthiness into my ears. Her punches bruised and bled and back in the corner, my coaches were speechless. I felt helpless and defeated. Was I going to give in? Was I going to let her win the fight; let the bad overcome the good? The little girl inside of me clung to this idea that good always won, but the woman on the other side of the of the ring was in it for the kill. She intended to see me defeated. The life was leaving my eyes and I needed so desperately to know if I would come out alive.
I tried to give up. I tried to jump out of the ring only to find it was an inescapable battle. I needed help, and I was so unsure of where to find it. It felt like I had three “phone a friends”, only to realize all three calls were disconnected. I convinced myself I was utterly alone in this battle. No one could understand and I couldn’t even understand it myself. I was tired and tried to throw in the towel half way through.
But then, a break.
And there I was. Paused at round six. Racing along the shores. Running from the ring, from myself and the lies. Suddenly a call went through, and on the other end of the call were the words I had been longing to hear. “You are enough. You are not alone.” I ran faster and faster, sand spurs in my feet at this point, but not stopping. I was desperate for more, and hoping the other line wouldn’t hang up.
“Trust me. My plan is good, and your plan will fail. This enemy, she can not win. I am with you. You are free now.” Tears streamed down my cheeks as I walked through the birds who were now flying away. Freedom. Nothing can touch me. I’m free.
Back in the ring I found new energy for the second half. As we stepped up to touch gloves, I looked up and around at the crowd who must have sensed the spirit inside of me. “Determined,” they thought. “Look at what she is going to overcome. Herself.” Some wondered who was on the other line of that whimsical and powerful phone call, but some knew Him as a familiar friend. The crowd was filled with beautiful people from every corner of the world. The cries I once heard shouting for my defeat were now shouts of encouragement, and as they shouted, I rose above my enemy. For the next six rounds, I fought for myself, for what was right, all the while – that little voice from the phone call saying “trust me” “you are free.”
With each round I watched my enemy wither away. I was getting stronger.
Gone with the lies. Gone with the hurt. Gone with the evil and the nastiness.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Victory. Champion. My childhood self was jumping with complete, carefree joy as good won the battle once again. The crowd surrounding the ring was the best embrace I had ever received. My heart burst with new feelings of love that I had never experienced. And I? I stood crowned victorious as the voice from the phone call now spoke throughout the whole arena words of truth and love.
He said “Trust me. My plan is good. I am with you, and you are free.” And those in the crowd who knew their familiar friend, smiled. And those who did not know him, sought to see him, too, as a familiar friend.
*I think that about summarizes what this semester was like for me. Maybe it sounds weird, but I don’t care. I am free and victorious. This was my favorite semester for so many reasons and I am so thankful for every moment – starting with the run on the beach.*