When There is Nothing Else, There is Still Love

I am not spiraling downward the way that I did during my worst days, when I made a plan to die, five years ago. But I remember. I remember that when there was nothing I cared about, when I wanted the pain to end so deeply that I thought death would be better, something stopped me. And that was love. Somehow, something sparked enough love for me or in me to ask for help.

Today, a complicated relationship reappeared in the form of an argument that has continued, off and on, for almost five years, about the church that I grew up in. Another child of my church wrote to me to ask me to read an offensive, pompous and condescending blog post about why it’s all nonsense, why those of us who believe are just very nice people living in a very nice fantasy. After I told him to stop being such a jerk, I remembered what I really do know about my faith.

My God is love. Because that is what I found in that horrible darkness. There was nothing else to stop me from calmly walking off the edge of the roof of the tower I had planned to go to. I don’t need him or anyone else to understand. But I will never forget that I didn’t see a light or hear a voice. It felt as though someone had simply taken my hand.

It brings tears to my eyes to think about how many times I have taken that hand and held on tight. My Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, cared for his organization, his churches, his monks and nuns, his devotees and even the plants in his garden. But he repeated over and over that love and devotion would do more for us than all the piety in the world. He wrote stories, suggestions, even lessons on how to live, but he promised that love was enough.

I try to live by as many principles taught by my church as I can, but, as you might imagine, anxiety disorders make meditation extraordinarily painful. Sitting still and practicing the meditation techniques I know is a daunting prospect. But love, I can do. Devotion, I can muster. I close my eyes, and I picture myself holding my Guru’s hand. I squeeze tight and beg for Him to help me remember a simple affirmation:

“I am Thine; Thou art mine.”

Just as I am a child of God, He belongs to me. I lean on Him as my protector, as the One who loves me most. I will never spiral down as far as I did that awful night five years ago. I am so strong, now, compared to then. I am not yet out of the spiral that began on Saturday morning, but I am gripping a hand that is stronger than mine. And it will keep me from falling. It will protect my baby. It will guide me as I try to do my best during pregnancy, and I will have that same guidance when I am a mother. I won’t be happy all day, every day. That’s not how it works. But there is a hand for me to hold, whenever I need it.

8 Comments

  1. Leah Marie said:

    This is beautiful and perfect.  Today in my own church I was reading over the words of one of my favorite hymns, that speaks of this very sentiment. “He lives to comfort me when faint. He lives to hear my soul’s complaint. He lives to silence all my fears. He lives to wipe away my tears. He lives to calm my troubled heart.”  Religions may differ in context, but at the heart of it, it is the same.  We are not alone in our suffering.  

    May 20, 2012
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    • Anne-Marie said:

      Yes, that’s it. I can’t imagine living in a world where this was just… it. All of us just left to ourselves. But I feel it when I find a passage like that, something that says just what I need to hear. It’s not just an idea.

      May 20, 2012
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    • LM That passage is beautiful. I am of a different religion than the norm but I trust God nonetheless to guide me and comfort me. You are right, at the heart of it, it is the same. People need to be reminded of that more often. 

      May 21, 2012
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  2. Christie O Tate said:

    This is beautiful. Thank you.

    May 21, 2012
    Reply
  3. Roseholmes52 said:

    So well said!  Love, Mom

    May 21, 2012
    Reply
  4. Sheila Starbuck said:

    I find your honest approach in not censoring your self is refreshing. I have found that depression and sadness has a way of slamming you when you least expect it. It is so difficult to pull your self out of this deep despair when you can hardly lift your head off the pillow. It is at times like this that I hear the lord speak to me he tells me that as one of his soldiers I am expected to lead by example with dignity,grace and love toward my brother & sister’s. Everything changes when I focus on others and there needs instead of wallowing in my own despair. I feel him guiding me as we walk together. The strength and peace that over comes me is a testament as to how strong and powerful our father the lord Jesus Christ can be when we believe and put our trust in him.

    May 25, 2012
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  5. Jane said:

    When I read the title of your post, I immediately thought about what kept me alive when things were hardest, and it was love. For me, it was the love of my mother, the clear understanding that she wanted me around and that it would devastate her if something happened to me. When I was in the most pain, I sometimes resented her for it, but it kept me here long enough to survive the worst. 

    When I realized what your post was really about, I thought how much more fundamental your point was, but in a sense we’re on a similar page. The relationships we have with our parents affect our relationship with God, whatever we perceive him/her to be.

    I’m glad your faith is giving you something to hold on to right now. I’m glad you’re stepping up in defense of it, because it gives you strength. That’s so important. I’m so sorry you’re suffering. 

    May 26, 2012
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    • Anne-Marie said:

      You know what, though, you were right, in a way. I kept thinking about my mother, too, and how heartbroken she would be. I thought of my sister, my niece never knowing me, things like that, too. But my mother and I had *just* gotten our relationship to a place where it worked, and I really felt God’s love through her. I thought about how she would miss me and then she dropped everything to come be with me in the hospital. The nurses broke some rules so she could spend more time with me. 

      My Guru said often that the love we experience here is a less perfect, human version of the unconditional love that God has for us. Like a taste of what’s available to us if we’ll look for it. And he talked a lot about how our parents affect our relationship with God. It’s a heady job, being a parent, because you’re representing that perfect love as best you can. Not perfection, mind you, but unconditional love. 

      May 26, 2012
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