Are You Okay

They don’t stop. The tug and pull. The nudging. The thoughts all blur together. Down the rabbit hole I go. I’m being driven mad. So many feelings and thoughts that don’t make sense. And in the midst of the confusion, the only voice I can make out is the one that says JUMP. And as I walk over the bridge of Freeway 57, I really want to listen to it.

Yes, it happened again. The hesitancy, the awkwardness, and the distrust were building up as I sat on the picnic blanket eating my 8 little chicken wings in the middle of the church picnic, surrounded by a group of people I couldn’t talk to. I felt the separateness and after failing to shut out all the hateful thoughts in my head, I knew I couldn’t stay. So I walked away. When I got to the sidewalk, I kept walking. When I got to the main street down on Yorba Linda, I kept going. Over Freeway 57 and all the way back to the parking structure I almost jumped off of 2 weeks before.

Short Rant. I hate this question: Are you okay?

Why do I hate this question?

  • Because most of the time, this question gets asked in a public setting, where the person being asked will always feel the pressure to answer in the affirmative. There is a room filled with more than a dozen other people, do you really expect me to break the last bit of resolve I can muster? There are more appropriate times to cry. And as much as I value transparency, breaking down in a room with a bunch of people I don’t know that well will never feel safe. And maybe I’ve been conditioned to say, Yea I’m fine. Sometimes, those are the words that come out of my mouth before my brain even processes the actual question.
  • Also, because the person asking already knows the answer. Nobody asks anybody this question unless they think the party in question is NOT okay. Which in most cases, the party is definitely not well if they can’t even pretend anymore.
  • Plus, if I answer with, No I’m not okay, then I’ve condemned you having to dive down the rabbit hole with me. You, my poor friend, would be forced to ask me follow-up questions and sit there listening, and feeling confused and unequipped to help. You’d have to waste your precious time on trying to care for me when you can be doing something else, or talking to someone happier and more fun. And that kind of sucks for you doesn’t it? Because if you try to throw some half-hearted encouragement and then just walk off because you didn’t REALLY want to open the can of worms, you’d come off looking like a real jerk. And I cannot condemn you to that sad reality.

And those are SOME of the reasons as to why I have a hard time answer this question. Because I WANT to tell the truth, but the truth is so risky. It’s not anybody’s fault. Because, technically, they tried. They at least made the effort. And to be honest, if I ever do end up jumping off a building, that will be the one thing that keeps them from feeling guilt.

“O well, we tried. So our hands are clean.”

“She just didn’t want help. Can’t blame anyone but herself”

“You can’t control what people do”

“It’s sad, but it’s nobody’s fault”

All valid statements. So why does it hurt to hear them?

The fight for joy is the fight to see. I can’t see the path in front of me. I don’t know what tomorrow looks like. Whether I’ll be okay or not. I can’t differentiate the people who love me from the people who will hurt me. I can’t see the glory of the gospel. I don’t know what is true anymore.

I know the word is so important. So, so important… Be grounded in the word because that is the only real true thing we have. And even when we have it, it’s hard to see it for what God intended. I keep fighting to see God for who he is, but I don’t see anything. It’s so blurry. So, so blurry…

The Ledge

I’m over the railing and my foot inches closer towards the cement ledge. I look over and down. It’s a 4 story vertical drop. I don’t even remember how I got up there, alone at the top of the parking garage.

2 hours ago I was at lunch with all the other happy people. Willa and Maurice sat down at my table and began picking at their food. More people came and they were smiling and laughing, and I was all too aware of the difference between their disposition and mine. Their happiness pointed to my inability to be present in the moment with them. I was in a bubble again.

I sat and stared at nothing. I only heard the muffled conversations of normal people around me. I was aware of two things: my guilt and my fear. I looked at Willa and Maurice, sitting quietly, both aware of my state of sadness. I was dragging them down. Miserable me always ruining the mood… I turn and see Greg, laughing and conversing with the other ten plus people at the table. I was in conflict. Because as much as I didn’t want to be a downer, I couldn’t help but feel hurt and sad that everyone else seemed so joyful. I shouldn’t feel that way. I want them to have a good time. Then I knew… I didn’t belong in this group. I’m not one of them. I saw myself as separate. Emotionally, mentally, physically, everything. I shouldn’t be there.

“I’m going to head out,” I said as I got up and walked away. But I didn’t leave. My engine started and I realized I had nowhere to go. After a minute of thinking, I turned it off. I chucked the keys to the side, frustrated that I was still stuck in the parking lot of the plaza, my sort of friends only a 10-second walk away. Why am I so selfish? I don’t want to be… I prayed.

God, please give them a joyful day. Despite how I feel or how I am, give them a day of rest and peace. May their worries escape their thoughts and may you give them the confidence and perseverance to face tomorrow, whether it’s work or school…

My heart continues to pull. I hate the fears I have about Renew. I hate overthinking about my relationship with this community. I hate thinking about how I will become too much for them. I don’t want to be scared of being thrown away anymore. The only way to stop the storm on the inside is to leave 100 percent. If I have no friends, then I have nothing to care about, nothing that can hurt me. I wouldn’t be able to want or wish. I don’t have to face disappointment. My fingers move fast. I leave every chat and Facebook group related to Renew. I LEFT. I throw my phone to the side as soon as I’m done, for fear that I may see the emptiness of my page and regret it all.

I’m crying. The pamphlet I picked up at Pastor Tori’s funeral the previous day sits in the seat next to me. I’ve been reading it over and over. He died a week and a half ago. Sudden cardiac arrest. I detached. Unlike everyone else, I didn’t cry when I heard, I didn’t cry when I saw the casket. But now it’s different.

Pastor Tori led a humble, faithful life. He used to be a Dean at Truth seminary. He loved the bible, the history, the context, the old dusty facts that many people lose patience with. And he loved the dinky little church in Covina so much that he would spend every weekend driving 200+ miles to teach them. He rejected job offers from other ministries for a little group of misfits. It didn’t matter that the members were immature and young and disorganized. It didn’t matter that in the years he was there, the population saw little growth in numbers. He was committed to his community, joyful and calm in all seasons, faithful in serving, and always devoted to the word of God.

And I left that church for Renew. Guilt. I never realized how much I learned from him. Guilt. I never thanked him for his teaching. Guilt. I told myself before the funeral that I will see him again in heaven and there will be opportunities to thank him. But my heart was wrenching and I wanted to forgo everything. Guilt. He was so faithful to his little community. Me? I just ran away from mine… Guilt! Guilt! GUILT! 

Meridian Parking Garage. I left Renew, yet I found no place to go but the parking place in front of the building Renew rents for their services. I got out of the car and walked over to the concrete clearing on the side of the parking garage. The railings of the 4th floor overlooked this area. I wasn’t sure why I was there. My legs moved on their own. I looked up and tried to measure how many Me’s it would take to measure up to the top. It didn’t look like a very far drop from where I stood on the ground. My legs moved again. They ignored the stairs. Instead, they circled around and around, passing the empty parking spots until I was finally at the top, completely exposed to the open sky. I think they were stalling for time. I’m not sure. I reached the rails. I climbed over. My knee, the only thing guarding me from the fall.

We’re caught up now. For a moment, no thoughts cross my mind. I feel empty. The wind blows around me. I inhale and my lungs intake so much air like they’re afraid they won’t ever breathe again. A new emotion swarms me. I can’t do it. I climb back over, slide to the floor, hold my head and scream. I scream so hard and loud, my throat hurts. Now, I really have nowhere to go. NO ESCAPE. The only route I could take, I didn’t have the guts to do it.

TRUTH AND LIES. Truth and lies. Truth and lies… Everything blurs. God is silent. God is good. God is always present. God is working. There is redemption. There’s no relief. God messed up when he created me. God is working all things for his glory. I still have faith. I’m too broken to be saved. I hate the world. I love people. Jesus died for me. Jesus loves me. He pursues me. He left me…

How real is heaven…

Wait. Wait. Wait. WHY. WHY. WHY.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer – Romans 12:12

My story wasn’t meant to end today.