“I am so lost for words, and I am so overwhelmed”
-Flyleaf, ‘broken wings’
You could smell the remains of the chemical pyro and the sweat of the crowd around us was beginning to be uncomfortable. Three bands had already decimated the stage and Disciple was up next. I glanced up at Mary as we both struggled to squish ourselves into little balls while sitting on the floor in the front of the crowd. “Are you okay?” she questioned me and I responded with a singular, “yeah” though, i could see from her eyes and the wrinkling of her forehead that she didn’t believe me so I reached out my hand and made direct eye contact. “Yes.” I clarified, taking a deep breath and pushing words out of my gut to the stale air around us. “I just feel like anything could happen.”
Mary agreed with me and we sat in stillness for a few moments longer until I deemed it time to stand up, and not a moment too soon. The lights disappeared and the familiar rush of loud music Jesus-filled adrenaline filled my eyes and my heart and it was started. It felt just like old times and yet something new was building. I couldn’t properly put my finger on what was happening until Kevin started speaking before beginning the song ‘Yesterday is Over’ but he spoke and with love-filled, teary eyes, He spoke of love, forgiveness and freedom. I knew something was coming but just like a foggy morning starting to clear, I couldn’t quite see it yet even though it was so very close to my eyes.
Kevin continued speaking of making things right with God, not maintaining excuses and making hard decisions. All of these things felt so strong but not for me at the same time. Then he softly began sharing about the things we hold on to that hurt us, the sin of anger and bitterness and pain that we squeeze in tight-gripped fists until our numb hands don’t remember how to let go anymore. He gave a few examples of things that need to be let go of and where forgiveness needs to enter instead. The words rang clear for those who experienced cutting, past relationships where mistakes were made…then just as suddenly as it was normal, he spoke the words that exactly echoed a piece of my past. When he etched them into the air, all of the breath in my lungs disappeared and it was all I could do to stay standing and breathing.
“Holy Spirit, why are you bringing this up NOW?” I half cried, half demanded. This was not supposed to be a night to face this demon. In my perfect planning, this was a night of joy and memories. “I will come to you.” He whispered to me…not a moment too soon either, because I suddenly began to fall apart. The tears were coming and I knew what He asked of me. As Kevin mimicked the act of holding an object tightly in your hand and letting it go, I felt a tight coil in my heart and knew this was the night I let go and forgave a teenager who was barely even that. It was also time to forgive myself for everything and hold it tightly one last time before letting go — forever.
I remember the first chords of the song beginning and I remember whispering to Mary to trust me that I was going to be okay and then the next thing I knew, I was a sobbing, kneeling ball on a dirty floor. All around me were knees and feet and hardly any clear air…but none of that mattered. It was in that moment I felt such an intensity of Him pulling the heaviness off of me and I will never forget that night. Yes, I had to make the choice to let go and I did– but He was the one saving me still. The healing for this is only started and there is so much more joy to come..but it’s huge and it’s incredible.
Just a few hours later as we drove back to Kenosha late into the night, Mary questioned me again, “Are you okay?” to which I softly responded, “oh Mary– I haven’t stopped grinning since the show ended.”
I think that is exactly what freedom is like. It is a joy so incredible and intense you don’t even realize what’s happening around you except the clarity of your breath and the weightlessness you have. Almost 13 years of heaviness and deep-searing pain over something that I had no control over and it has been lifted and I believe it is gone forever.
Sure I could choose to remember the evening by the photos snapped or the hugs shared among friends. I could sit here and recount the 1:30am trip to Wendy’s in someone else’s car, or the way my back was spazzing out like crazy…but instead this is what I will forever remember. I will remember being surrounded by an incredible group of people who have replaced everything I once lost. I will remember the joy of the freedom of healing and how much power is in forgiving those who have wronged me.
For someone whose only expectation was a fun night with friends, I can safely say that my God is faithful to always exceed my expectations. I always ask so little and He always gives so much more generously than I could dream.
“Headed for the open door
Tell me what you’re waiting for
Look across the great divide
Soon they’re gunna hear
The sound, the sound, the sound
When we come running
Never go where we belong
Echoes in the dead of dawn
Soon they’re gunna know
The sound, the sound, the sound
When we come running”