Trying to live love well through the power of the Everlasting.
Roughly two years ago, I was at one of the men’s groups Wednesday night meetings. If I remember correctly, I’m fairly certain it was in the fall of 2009. In the course of our prayer time, a dear friend said something that rocked me to my very core. He said that he was just getting this one particular phrase; he felt that I was asking God, “Am I done yet?” He felt the answer from God was a sound, “No.”
Now I’m not sure if my friend understood exactly what was behind that phrase. I can’t say for sure if he comprehended what the question was really asking. Well, I knew. I was asking, “Is all this over yet? Can’t my life be done now? Please say yes, because I just can’t take life anymore. Am I done yet?”
A lot has happened in my twenty-seven short years. I’ve literally been around the world. I’ve been in positions of great responsibility and authority. I’ve been in positions of great humility, lower than the dust. I’ve dined in some of the grandest restaurants, and stolen food so that I wouldn’t go hungry. I’ve walked the halls of palaces, literally. I’ve walked the long, lonely roads as a homeless vagrant. I’ve been on top of the world, beaming and soaking in the applause of large audiences cheering the greatness of me. I’ve sobbed broken in the night, drowning in my loneliness. I’ve buried people dearer and closer to me than my own family. I’ve betrayed and wounded, and consequently lost, people closer to me than my own family. I’ve betrayed and wounded… well… my own family. I’ve shaken communities and hearts with raw honesty and authenticity, and I’ve broken communities and hearts with unthinkable deceit and lies.
I once had a friend remark about how she no longer found it strange when outrageous fortune dropped into my lap. It happened so often, she said, that she had come to expect it. She had a point. I’m that guy. That guy that shows up looking for tickets to a sold-out concert the morning of, only to find that not two minutes before I walked in someone canceled. Front row, center stage. Because of that , I’m called up onto the stage in the middle of the concert. This actually happened. It was after this night that my friend made her comment.
Somehow, my whole life, I’ve been that guy. Connections and adventures such as others would kill for show up in my life, not just once but over and over and over and over. And what do I do with them? Ruin them. I try to pull a con, and I ultimately lose everything. Or perhaps worse, sometimes I open my heart and something beautiful forms, and I pull the plug in the middle, pack up and vanish in the night, letting the beginning of something wonderful crash and burn for others to deal with. This has happened my entire life. This pattern is woven throughout all my years and experiences and memories that I wrote of earlier, in the paragraph about being in palaces and homeless, and all the rest.
So when I found myself sitting on my friend’s couch, hearing him speak that phrase, “Am I done yet?” Yeah, it connected. I always feel awful when I allow myself to think this thought, but it keeps coming back. Forgive me for what is probably youthful arrogance, but I keep finding myself thinking, “I don’t have one single friend who has lived as much as I have. For good and for bad. I cannot believe how much I have packed into this life. I don’t know of any friends who can relate to just who and where I am in this way. I’m so young, and yet so old.”
Youthful arrogance, probably. Gross blindness to the struggles and problems of others, and magnifying my own, almost certainly. Yet, perhaps it can help you to grasp my mindset, and to understand better how fully I resonated with the plea, “Am I done yet?”
Countless times throughout the years my heart has uttered that cry, or at least an equivalent version of it, pleading to be released and relieved through death. There was a time – years and years ago – when I was sorely tempted to make such events come to pass through my own actions. That time is long past, but the overwhelming Sadness still makes pit stops. Especially during the time of my Abandoning. You see, I ran away from life for a time. Some months after the night at men’s group I wrote about earlier, I vanished. Gone. And as the Living God stuck with me through my Abandoning, I frequently wished to just be done. Whatever he was doing with me, I wanted him to stop. Wherever he wanted me to go or whatever he wanted me to do, I just wanted him to give up and strike me down.
Thanks and praise to the Almighty that he did no such thing. I’m still here. The vast majority of days are no longer spent wishing for death. The vast majority of days I find myself rejoicing just in the simple fact that I am alive this day; that Papa gave me one more. And even when there are a few dark days, such as these past few have turned out to be, I no longer ask Papa if I am done yet.
Instead, I say,“Papa, give me what I need to get through the next ten minutes, every ten minutes, for the rest of the day. Help me to trust you better; to trust that you’re not just about bringing me through this breathing, but bringing me through it thriving. Even if it doesn’t resemble in the least what I think thriving should be. Thank you. Thank you.”
Because no, I’m not done yet. Thank God.
And if you ever read this and resonate with the words here, he’s not done with you yet, either.