You Never Left
By: Julius Gingles ‘21
Illustration by Grace Kim '23
Lying in bed late at night with one too many thoughts to process was a routine that Isla became all too familiar with. Once midnight approached, she would close her door, pop in her headphones, and try her best to escape reality through the latest Netflix television show.
“Isla, you doing alright?” her dad asked one night.
“Yes, dad I’m doing alright.”
“Okay, good night! See you in the morning.”
“Okay dad!” she exclaimed in a voice that she knew would never raise an eyebrow.
Isla could even convince herself that she was alright by the way she responded to her family’s greetings and how are you’s. But deep down, she couldn’t shake the feeling of dullness and hopelessness that plagued her each night.
Maybe it’s just the quarantine and all I need to do is go for a walk tomorrow morning! she thought the following night. That relief would only last from the moment she left the house until the moment she returned. Maybe I just need to exercise on a consistent basis. Or better yet, eat better! … Well, that’ll only last a week before I give up. I’m not consistent, and I fail every time I try to go on these healthy hiatuses is what she used as an excuse to not even try that route. Oh, Jesus, I need you to help me shake this feeling. I’ve tried everything was often in her prayers, but she knew that the paralyzing sensation of feeling like she was not enough discouraged her from taking tangible steps toward a solution. Where is my relief?
Isla did well to mask the battle that she faced in her mind. She felt a renewed sense of joy in the presence of others but by herself, however, all of that disappeared. Gradually, her dreams and aspirations grew dim. She no longer had the energy to go out with friends or keep up with her texts. None of her thoughts were edifying anymore. She started to care less for herself. Food was the only answer to combat her uneasiness. Once the quarantine ends, things will go back to normal! Let me just hang in there and keep this to myself and surely I’ll feel better soon was the lie she knew wouldn’t hold up for long. I just can’t, man...I just need.... [ring ring]
“Hey Kay, what’s going on?” Isla said in a soft yet dejected voice as she answered her best friend’s call.
“Hey Isla, I was thinking of you and had a feeling that something was wrong and wanted to check in with you. Not sure if my feeling was right, but how are you doing?”
“I don’t know sis. I can’t really explain it, but I haven't been feeling too much of anything lately. I thought I could stay on top of things in the midst of this pandemic, but it’s been tough. It’s hard to pick up God’s Word. It’s hard to pray. I look to food, television shows, everything but God. Right now, I just want to sit in the wallowing.”
“I hear you, and I’m here for you, Isla. What you’re feeling isn’t unusual, and you will not be stuck in this state for long. David once wrote in the psalms that the Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (1). He wrote that to remind you and I both of the Lord’s healing power. God is with you even when you haven’t opened up His Word and spoken to Him for a bit. He is waiting with His arms open wide. He knows what you are feeling and—”
“Yeah, but I feel so weak, Kay. I can’t muster up the energy or courage to seek Him right now. I just don’t know.”
“Remember when Paul had that thorn in his side and was confident that ‘when you are weak, you are strong because the power of Christ will rest upon you' (2)? He has not given up on you. Don’t lose hope. You are His child, and He is understanding. I want to remind you that it’s okay to feel weak right now. I am reminded from another one of David’s psalms that ‘His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love’ (3). Don’t be afraid to ask a fellow brother or sister, a friend, or even a professional for help. The LORD has equipped people on this earth to help you. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It’s an act of humility and strength. I am willing to be a listening ear and to be present with you.”
“Thank you for this reminder, Kay. I appreciate it. I...I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Be well, sis. Love you.”
On the night after she had her phone call with Kay and everyone in her home was asleep, she lay in her bed, and closed her eyes. She opened her mouth with the strength she had and prayed.
“Lord, You are good. Even though it’s hard to feel that right now, I know it is true. You are my peace, You are my hope, You are the Great I Am. I need to be reminded of that, Lord. I need you, Lord. You are my Savior, who loves me deeply and I thank You. Thank You for Your everlasting grace and steadfast love over my life. Your promises are true and You have never failed me. Even when I feel like all of my hope is gone, You place people in my path to remind me of the hope that there is in You. All of my hope is in You. May You revive my heart and comfort me in this deep depression I can’t shake. It is in my weakness that You come alive in me and make me strong. I don’t want to give up on You, Lord. Help me to believe that You will never leave me. I will lean back in Your loving arms, my caring and beautiful Father. Hope will have the last word over me. I will trust in You. Only in You can I be made whole again. Thank You and for those You’ve led to me. Thank You for Kay. The Great I am, I give You praise. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.”
(1) Psalm 147:3 (ESV)
(2) 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 (ESV)
(3) Psalm 147:10-11 (ESV)