Stand

lead zeppelin

image credit: @notnixon.flickr.creative commons

You said I was grounded like a lead zeppelin, a lead balloon. This was funny, because nearby, the red hot air balloon was taking people for “rides,” letting them bounce gently on the ground but never taking to the sky. Funny, but we weren’t laughing.

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image credit: K_Gradinger.flickr.creative commons

Across the darkening lawn of the campus, the carnival was loud and whimsical, bluegrass music drifting over on the breezes along with scents of buttery popcorn. We had wandered away from the noise, the activity, the people, for a more serious and weighty conversation than the festive atmosphere allowed for. Now I was crying, the deep and heavy tears of Depression that would not lift. We sat; I cried; you simply were, with me, like Job’s friends sitting shiva. There were no words for this.

I felt like the “dead man” that marked the sidewalk nearby, more symbols of the light-hearted college traditions continuing on around me. And I felt stuck, buried deep, weighted down beneath the waves of random, reasonless sorrow.

We couldn’t get up from our dark corner of the grass, not yet, even though night was coming on. I was wiping tears and snot on my shirt for lack of a better remedy, looking like a hot mess and unwilling to face the crowds with such a downcast face.

My tears have been my food
    day and night…

My heart is breaking
    as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
    leading a great procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng!

My soul is downcast within me…
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

Psalm 42, excerpts from NIV and NLT

Finally the wells of my tears seemed to have run dry, and you suggested we bake cookies and color pictures to comfort the Sad. I picked myself up off the ground, body heavy, still reluctant to risk human interaction. But we stood and walked the short distance back to my apartment, stumbling into the light past the cozy and holy prayer chapel. Finding a box mix, we trooped over to your dorm, the one that felt friendly, and baked cookies in the lounge while various friends of yours stopped over to see what we were doing. You brought coloring materials from your room and as the cookies baked, we doodled in bright colors, tracing song lyrics onto the page, words of hope not yet realized:

The enemy has been defeated
And death couldn’t hold You down
We’re gonna lift our voice in victory
We’re gonna make Your praises loud

Shout unto God with a voice of triumph
Shout unto God with a voice of praise
Shout unto God with a voice of triumph
We lift Your name up
We lift Your name up

“Shout Unto God” by Hillsong United

I think you walked me back home that night, and I slipped into my apartment hoping not to be seen by my roommates’ boyfriends. You gave me the picture you drew, with my name on it, and I hung it with mine above my bed. I fell asleep looking at the colors, remembering the promises, wishing and willing the hope to be true.

It’s been five years since then, but when I think of the support I had during Depression, that night is one of the first to come to mind. You sat with me in the incurably sad silence, a show of solidarity when many would give up. But just as importantly, you stood with me and gently prompted me back towards the land of the living, baby steps of crayons and cookies. You helped me stand on unsteady legs and didn’t leave me to fend for myself just because the worst was over. You stood with me through the long darkness and patchy light, and for that I am so incredibly grateful.

for Jess

linking up with SheLoves Magazine for their July theme of Stand

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4 thoughts on “Stand

  1. Cookies and crayons and a friend who listens and stays with you through the tears. This is gorgeous, Sarah. Thank you for sharing! And thank you for linking up with SheLoves. What a beautiful picture of Stand.

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