Senior year was supposed to be amazing. This was the thought I carried when I walked into the building on the first day of school, only to discover in a few short hours that school could only ever be one thing – a stress bomb. I could have plowed through each day and dealt with it, or I could have given up and drifted the rest of the year. My third and final option was to ask for help, but would my pride allow me to do that?
On the night of the first day, the looming chaos of the entire year fell on me, and visited me in my sleep. The dream I had was vivid, leaving me wondering upon waking. I was running. Running from what, I couldn't tell. All I knew was that it was evil. My feet carried me through the woods until I was forced to halt at the top of a short waterfall. The river attached to it was raging and ferocious, but it was my only escape. I jumped. Nasty, green water engulfed me, the swift current dragging my body downstream while immobilizing my limbs. Fear gripped me, until a seemingly random thought flew into my mind: If I can just raise my arm over my head, God's hand will be there to pull me out.
So that's what I did. I forced my arm to rise against the waters, and felt immediate relief when my senses detected a strong hand latching onto my own. It pulled me from the river, and set me on shore. Safety was mine as I smiled in a wet heap, watching the hand that had saved me disappear. There was only His hand, and nothing more. Once I was awake, my mind tried to decipher why this dream had come to me. I wouldn't find out until a week later.
By Friday of the next week, I was done. Homework was my only focus, and it seemed impossible to find time to catch up, to get it all done. Time hated me. It caused me to get locked out of the school building when I came back from senior privileges, making me late for class. It caused me to miss lunch because I spent all of it doing homework. It demanded that I do extra tasks, only to have me blow them off later. There was just too much. When I got home on Friday, I dropped my backpack, kicked off my shoes, and sunk into my desk chair, succumbing to wave after wave of tears. Time stood still then. From across my bedroom, I had a perfect view of my teal Bible. I didn't open it, but simply seeing it brought the dream from the previous week back into my head. If I raised my arm, it would mean that I was utterly helpless, but if I didn't, I would be forced to hide in that present darkness, falling deeper into empty, impure contemplations. I raised my arm. As expected, nothing really happened. No light suddenly poured in through the windows. No strength made itself known on my senses. However, the power of acknowledgement was enough to send me back into sobbing. After this incident, I cleaned up my face and continued like all was well.
On Saturday, the Sabbath, I walked into church wearing the face of a sleepwalker. "Hello. How are you?" people said as they passed me in the halls. I attempted to smile, which seemed to satisfy them, but said nothing. My friend, Summer, was sitting in a pew far to the right of the sanctuary, so I sat in front of her, the only one on the bench. Another friend, Sam, cast worried glances in my direction from the other end of the sanctuary. College kids were leading out that day. They were strangers, which made what happened next all the more substantial. During children's story, one of them stepped forward and told the story of Jesus pulling Peter out of the sea – the exact story that came to mind when I thought of my dream.
I told Jesus, "You did that on purpose."
Usually, that statement comes out of my mouth when something cute like a song of encouragement comes on the radio, or a random cat approaches me on the street, looking for belly rubs. Usually, I smile, but this time, I cried. My feet carried me out of the sanctuary to the bathroom, where I stayed a while, only to go back and fill my ears with the words of Pastor Dragos, who was giving a sermon about how it's okay to cry. There was no way this was a coincidence. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted," he quoted from Matthew. After realizing how these three experiences were connected, I was indeed comforted, despite my wet face. God was there, holding me tight.
What I discovered that day was that He's got it. All He ever wanted me to do was trust Him, and by doing so, He would provide for me, whether I needed time, comfort, peace, or whatever else. He was there. Now, whenever the struggle proves itself once more to be real, I just raise my arm, and I know He's got it. At this point in my life, I've realized how vital this has become. Even though life hurts, I have a safe hand to grab onto to.