Saturday, December 28, 2013

This is not the hardest part of all.

My parents talk about getting back to normal life. I talk to my friends about trying to get back to normal life. And all the while in my mind, I am striving to understand what exactly normal life is. If normal life means going back to what I was doing before December 6, then I don't think that is going to happen. I feel like Jessica in "The Man From Snowy River" right after the scene when she spends a night dangling between life and death on the edge of a cliff. In the morning Jim finds her and rescues her and she confesses that she doesn't want to go back to her overbearing father, back to her old life--that while she was on that mountainside she started to see her life very clearly. Now, I am not about to profoundly announce that I am deeply in love. No, it's a bit more than that. I hope that I am a good deal more mature than Jessica to understand that there is more to life than pursuing your new-found crush.

However, I am about to say that the majority of my life seems very trivial in light of recent events. I could excuse my intuition away as shock and simply get on with normal life, but I'm not entirely convinced that God's providence works that way. God loves us too deeply to let us be satisfied with anything other than Himself. When He shakes us, He intends to wake us, let the scales fall from our eyes and make these blurry walking trees before us finally become clear. Every great tragedy we encounter is not a signal for us to quit our lifestyles and pursue entirely different careers or college degrees or whatever it is we were pursuing beforehand. Sometimes we cannot do anything but continue as best we can. But I do believe that God chastens us with an expectation of repentance and reevaluation.

"This is not the hardest part of all.
This is just the seed that has to fall.
All our lives we till the ground,
Until we lay our sorrows down
And watch the sky for rain."

So what does this mean for me in practical terms? Right now, it means that I am taking a hiatus from my college studies for the next few months in order to work, save up money, and in general spend more time with family and friends, and the church. I will most likely be moving out of the house to live near my sisters and Dan and Anna. To be perfectly honest, the prospect of completely changing things up sort of terrifies me. But one of my very near and dear friends told me a few days ago that, "Starting completely over is a lot easier than staying and trying to keep on doing what you were doing before." And that is how I feel right now. I felt an inkling towards this before December 6, but since then, I knew that there was no way to go back and simply keep on.

Another one of my good friends told me recently, "What is the pursuit of a career or a college degree if you lose your joy in Christ?" Once again, I felt like Jessica trapped on the mountainside. Right then, "everything seemed so clear to me." I realized that I didn't owe my passion or my zeal to anyone except Jesus and His people. I sometimes wonder if I haven't exhausted myself simply by trying to pour my passion into my vanity and pride where it never belonged.

Part of my decision is directly connected to my brother Ben. Naturally, he has been a large part of my life. But more recently, he was a vast part of my college life. We drove into campus together every morning at 7:30 am. And we drove home together every night. If I ever was having a crisis of any sort, I would call him, and he was there. Whether I was distraught over missing an exam or accidentally forgot my accompanying music folder at home, he was there with a solution, there to offer some stability and assistance. He was certainly no prince charming all of the time. He enjoyed berating me about the fact that I know next to nothing about cars and how I was inadvertently destroying his by failing to check the oil. We had our fair share of arguments and fall outs. As his sister, I had the privilege of witnessing his frustrated, disparaging, insecure side more than most people. But despite all of Ben's faults and misgivings, he never failed to make himself available when it was apparent he was needed.

I liked having my brother on campus with me. Even more so, I enjoyed seeing him and my brother Greg in the music building on campus during weekdays for choir rehearsals. I liked the fact that my college life was constantly being invaded by my family. But now, trying to go back to all of that would be like constantly sprinkling salt on the raw gaping wound in the fabric of my life. I was not simply taking college courses in that music building, I spent years and years of my childhood in that music building, participating in children's choir with my siblings and music summer camps. There is no falling back into step with life the way it used to be, because Ben was my life the way it used to be. Trying to go back would simply be feeding this aching expectancy inside of me that refuses to believe his face will not suddenly appear from around the corner.


  1. Thank you for your honest writing, Dani. I keep coming back and back to Andrew Peterson's lyrics. It has been the music which has meant the most to me especially in light of recent events.
    I am praying for you as you consider what to do next, where to go, what job to get, etc.

  2. Thank you, Danielle, for writing this post. It must not be very easy, but it has touched me deeply.

    I was glancing at my goodreads account a little while ago, and I came across this line by Milton:
    “Is it true, O Christ in heaven, that the highest suffer the most?
    That the strongest wander furthest and most hopelessly are lost?
    That the mark of rank in nature is capacity for pain?
    That the anguish of the singer makes the sweetness of the strain?”
    ― John Milton

    And, I am sure... it is true. It is hard to understand, but deep down I know! And about starting a fresh and all that - there is that line from the North and South movie that just gets me powerfully every time. It is that moment near the end of the film that Margaret tells her relatives, "I learnt something when I went back to Helstone, expecting it to be the paradise I knew as a child. Try as I might, happy as we were, we can’t go back."

    Praying for you, as the Lord guides you in your decisions these coming days. God bless!

    1. Joy, that was beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing and thank you again for your prayers. A lot of North & South quotes have been coming to my mind lately. It's rather providential how much Margaret Hale and I have in common. God bless!


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