It occurred to me that I have a lot of unfinished endings on this page. First of all, I got a new violin last year, shortly after writing that first post. It’s brand-new and beautiful and I hope I can use it to tell my Story, God’s Story, for many years. I was a little embarrassed to share this because I felt like it was almost too nice and I didn’t deserve it. As much as I enjoy playing, I just don’t have the time to practice that I need in order to play well. The last few times I have tried to play in church, I end up spending hours and hours practicing only to mess up in performance because my nerves get the better of me. People still say they appreciated the music, but I’m always disappointed with myself because I know I can do better. It is hard for me to accept where I am and be content with what God has given me. I want to know the ending in the middle of the story.
The other story I had a hard time completing is the one about my Grandpa. I have been working on the end of our vacation story for over a year. I wanted to have a Happy Ending so badly and until just a few months ago, I didn’t. On the way home from Ohio last summer, I was hospitalized. I was so scared and stressed about my Grandpa and his salvation that I ended up working myself right into Psychotic Episode #3. I have only had this happen two times in my life and they were undoubtedly the most hellish experiences I have ever been through.
The first one was when I broke my old violin in 2000. I was on a mission trip in Brazil when I began to lose touch with reality. The group I was with held me down and tried to cast demons out of me. It took me 13 years to process this incident enough to realize it might not have been demons after all, but simply my broken mind. I had a repeat experience when I was a student at Moody Bible Institute in 2003. Fortunately, they were quick to take me to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where I received excellent care, food, and medication. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was my last day as a MBI student. I decided not to finish the semester because I was already engaged and wasn’t planning on attending in the fall anyway. After this, I have been careful enough to manage my symptoms and didn’t think I would ever end up in the hospital again. Which brings me to last summer…
I can’t really explain all that lead me to the ER that day other than to say that lack of sleep, poor diet, extreme stress and travelling with 3 children is a recipe for disaster when you already have a significant mental illness. We had a wonderful time with my family and I don’t regret it for anything. I just wish it hadn’t ended that way. I spent five days in Kansas City while my poor family waited in a hotel for me to regain sanity enough to travel home. When they finally let me out, I was depleted and sad, but we made it home. For the next four months, I cried and prayed over my Grandpa and wished I had a happy ending to his story.
On September 29th, my dear friend Susie was killed in a motorcycle accident. I called my mom to tell her and she told me that my dad was in Ohio visiting his father. He was in a state of semi-consciousness and my dad was singing hymns to him. He asked him, “Do you know who Jesus is?” and my Grandpa, who has denied his need for Christ for 89 years, sat bolt upright in bed and said, “Yes! He’s my Savior!” Hearing that news on the day Susie died made it one of the most emotional days of my entire life. To have such immense sorrow at her loss, but profound joy for my Grandpa at the same time was almost too much to handle. Three months later, my Grandpa also was called Home.
I guess that’s just Life in a nutshell. We are broken people, experiencing great loss and overwhelming joy in the same breath, stumbling along and never really knowing the End to the Story until we are Home At Last. I don’t know how much time I have left on this earth. I don’t know which of my friends and family that I grieve and pray over will join me in His Kingdom. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 3:13
It’s hard to be stuck in the middle of a story. I often feel discouraged because things are not going the way I want them to. But I do know Where my story will end even if I don’t know when or how. In the meantime, I need to choose to stop focusing on circumstances and focus on the heart and presence of the Author and Finisher of our Faith. I want every day of this broken journey to bring glory and honor to my King until at last I am Home.