01 Feb Courage, Dear Heart
God showed up for me in February of 2017, as the darkness crept over the ship. And He continued when I ran out of ship and my worst nightmares became flesh and blood.
He’s shown up each and every time, and so I don’t want to admit how lost I became this morning, in that never ending railroad tunnel of despair. I don’t want to publicly admit my weakness, when there are those who find pleasure in my pain. I don’t want to take my battered heart and hold it up to the light and see the parts that still bleed and won’t trust and hemorrhaged all over a parking lot in a run down town off the highway on my way home from Boston today.
I may tell more of the story someday, but for now what you need to know is that I became irrational in a way I had yet to experience in this crisis. Like someone needing to scrub another’s touch from their body, I needed to rid myself of my jacket immediately- and my first instinct was to burn it or bury it in a dumpster. I didn’t have a lighter and I didn’t want to destroy something someone else may need, so I left it on a park bench in a run down plaza off the highway.
This was not a healthy emotional outburst, nor was it normal for me, and I’d be ashamed to share it if I didn’t know I must.
I pulled myself together enough to walk into the nearby Starbucks and order coffee, which I desperately needed for the drive home to the basement. My mind had shifted to that place where you don’t quite feel real and you’re not entirely sure you are, and I handed the cashier a larger bill than I realized and then dropped all of the change into the tip jar without conscious thought. I now believe God was quite aware and blessing the one who was about to bless me.
A barista who looked more like a linebacker said he loved my shirt and asked me where I got it. I’d laid out a sweater and jeans the night before, knowing I had to get dressed and out the door long before I even wanted to be awake. But I was too warm in the sweater, so I’d grabbed a T-shirt from my drawer, in the dark, and thrown the jacket over it. When the barista asked, I had to look down to see what shirt I was wearing.
It was a quote from C.S. Lewis- “COURAGE, DEAR HEART.”
I told him and he went to work making my coffee. I watched him from outside myself, my mind filled with unbearable confusion at the brutality of mankind and the lack of God’s intervention.
He asked me the question again, and I had to think to find the answer even though I’d given it a minute or so before. And then he asked me where the quote was from and I looked down again and realized the shirt simply says C.S.L. And I read those words again: “COURAGE, DEAR HEART.”
So I told him it was by C.S. Lewis and he asked if it was from a book and I said yes, and my mind was so scrambled that I said the Narnia series, I think. Even though I don’t think, I know it’s from the Narnia series. And he said he really likes shirts like that, the ones that say something important. And I barely, just barely held the tears in until I got out the door. And I said Lord, thank You.
On the way home I listened to Sunday’s message from Elevation Church and there were sections that spoke directly to what I was experiencing in that parking lot, and then I hit the next video on YouTube because I was driving and it was UpperRoom’s live prayer and praise, and I cried and said Lord, I know You love me. Help. Help now.
And it was a little- a very, very little- better. But the exhaustion and overwhelm won out and after getting back and working for awhile, I gave up, laid down, and scrolled through Pinterest- that plea for help echoing in my mind. And there was this post from 2011 called “Courage, Dear Heart”.
I have a C.S. Lewis board so seeing something related to his writing is not out of the ordinary, but I could not dismiss it as mere coincidence. And when I read the post I said okay, I hear Your whisper. I know Your voice. I‘m sorry my courage continues to fail me even though You never do.
And He reminded me that His strength is found in my weakness and my courage is found in His strength. “My heart and my flesh may fail but God is the strength of my heart.”