Stay

For almost a decade now, I have been believing a lie.

That God did not stay with me.


Saint Padre Pio used to pray, “stay with me, Lord, for You know how easily I abandon You.”


This has been my prayer. Stay. A constant whisper, a desperate pleading, always, stay.


It started before I left Haiti. When I was so lost I couldn’t recognize myself. When my hands and lips would move and I wouldn’t know what they were saying, doing. I’d go to the nearby church, the one with the dirt floors, kneel, beg God to stay with me. I was slipping away, and there was no end in sight, no rope to pull myself back up on, so I just fell, long, hard.


Until I hit the bottom, empty.


Stay.


I continued that prayer when I was pregnant, sobbing in the shower, alone, scared. I’d spread my fingers across my growing belly and resent the baby, hate myself. The hatred ran so deep it’d choke me, leave me gasping for air.

Stay, I’d plead. I cannot do this, just stay.


But then my son came, and there was peace. I still longed for all the things I’d lost, all the friendships, the mission, my dreams. The kids in the orphanage. But there, in my arms, there was a baby. My baby. And my love for him beat out my hatred for myself, for a while. That slippery feeling of hope would begin to poke the inside of my heart, and I tried to grab it with everything I had.


Stay.

Years passed. His dad and I decided to go separate ways. I faked it all, for my son. The forced smiles, the hidden tears. It wrecked my son each weekend he had to pack his blankie and stuffed animal and leave his home, to spend with his father in another, unfamiliar home. I danced, I made promises, I joked with his dad until my son would relax, would give into the idea that he had to go.


I’d drive home and sob. Stay, I’d cry.


My father got sick. Then he got too sick. These are years I wish to forget, the nights in our home, his calling out, his delusions.


Stay.


Eventually, a life full of color became blanketed in gray. My son was the only light, the only brightness in each day. But it was blinding, his light, and I only noticed the darkness when he was gone, the world falling into a sleepy haze around me. Without him to care for, to love, to protect, I had lost all my purpose.


“Hope deferred makes a heart sick.” Proverbs 13:12. My heart was sick. I couldn’t long for things unseen. When my son was gone, I felt paralyzed. I’d distract myself just to keep the thoughts at bay. Exercise. Coffee with friends. Bake. Leave my house, leave the state, go visit other friends. Anything but alone in my house, lost, hopeless.


Stay, I’d whisper.


A lie I’ve believed since I left Haiti. I’ll never have what I want. It had crept in somewhere between the longing for Haiti and the ache for dreams unfulfilled, but was silenced by the love for my son. But my son is older now, he’s more mature, less demanding. There’s suddenly more space in my brain for these intrusive thoughts, these lies.


I’ll never have what I want.


No.


I will have what I want. God wants good things for His children. He has big things waiting for all of us. As the tattoo on my arm says, He is for me.

Reading the Bible, the part where the disciples are on the road to Emmaus. They were walking, talking about the death of Jesus. They were downcast, it says. Then Jesus appeared, began walking beside them. Jesus asked them questions, and they explained how their Messiah had been crucified, but now the tomb is empty. They walked for a while, together, until evening fell upon them.

“Stay with us,” they said to Jesus.


So He went in to stay with them.

They asked Him to stay, so He stayed. Just like that, He stayed.


Then he broke the bread, said the blessing, and their eyes were opened, and they knew it was Him, Jesus.


“Were not our hearts burning within us as he spoke with us, walked with us?” They asked each other, themselves.

They hadn’t known he was there, with them, when he was right beside them.


Reading this, my heart burned within me. My eyes opened.

He has never left.

He has never left.

He has never left.


I have spent a decade asking Him to stay, but He was always here. Here. With me.

The lie that my life hasn’t had purpose, is simply that, a lie.

He gave me Levi.

Levi.


He has been my reason, my dreams.


He has never left.

Hope now, burns strongly within. I do not ask Him to stay anymore. He has always been here.

And now my eyes are open. There is color everywhere. Even in this scarily changing world, with so much division, there is hope. And when there is hope, anything is possible.

He has never left.

Not me, and not you.



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