A Still Small Voice

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, a still small voice. ~ 1 Kings 19: 11-13

I have never started off any post, okay any piece of writing, with a Bible verse. Because it is new territory and seemingly uncharacteristic, I feel the need to explain myself, to justify, to flesh out my own vision and relationship with God. I am acutely aware that my concept of God may not be your concept of God. Yet, I like this verse and I don’t know that we need to be on the same page (though we might be) for me to reflect on it.

I should say, however, that all of my life I have struggled with the concept of a higher power. I struggled with dogma and religion and all the existential questions that believing in a higher power might bring. Without any spiritual foundation on which to balance on my wobbly, ignorant human legs, I made intellect and self-will my higher power. And, eventually, I made intoxication my higher power as well.

I guess, for a while, this reliance on my brainpower and my complete obstinacy seemed to work. For a while. Yet, I hit a point in which I realized that my high IQ and my stubborn conceit weren’t serving me, weren’t saving me. I hit a point in which I had to reach out to something greater than myself—be it community, be it the Universe, be it God.

In the last year, after learning to relinquish control and to surrender and let go and live in the present moment, in my journey with miracles and sobriety, a spiritual switch has been flipped. I realize that I have no control and that I am not the center of the Universe and I feel better than I ever have. You see, I have come to understand that I do not have to understand. As they say, the beauty is in the mystery.

I have, in this newfound relationship with God, also come to believe that there are two distinct moments in my life when I have had the privilege, after the wind and the earthquake and the fire, to hear this still small voice and was graced with the wisdom to listen to it.

I heard this voice on the following two occasions:

  1. The night I decided to leave an emotionally and physically abusive relationship and
  2. The morning that I decided to get sober.

In both cases—that night and that morning—nothing was starkly unusual. Yes, I was beaten. Yes, I was desperate. Yet perhaps I was no more beaten than I had been, no more desperate. I’m sure that, in some way, I had bottomed out. But, there was nothing really, strikingly new about those moments except, for whatever reason, a voice welled up inside me saying “You cannot live like this anymore.” And, I listened. Oh, thank God, I listened.

I don’t, in any way, think that I am something special because I believe in these moments of clarity and divinity and protection. Nor do I think I am immune from tragedy or pain. Still, I have come to believe that the Universe takes care of us. I don’t mean in an “everything will turn out all right” or that “good things happen to good and/or faithful people” sort of way. Pain does not discriminate. But, neither does God. Somehow, at least for me, I believe this in the clichéd way that everything happens the way that it is supposed to happen.

Life unrolls as life unrolls. Maybe we do not always like it or understand it, but there seems to emerge a pattern of, if nothing else, survival. I see this all the time. In children that overcome all sorts of abuse and neglect and adversity. In adults that come out all the stronger for their struggle, their loss, their own pain. In communities that come together after disaster. This may be easy to say as I sit on my deck sipping Chai tea and watching the hummingbirds flutter. Yet, I try not to compare pain and I try to be grateful.

I must also ask myself, where would I be without that quiet intervention? Whether the voice was from the deep, innocent recesses of my own soul or whether it was other-worldly, it saved my life. I cannot surmise about the path I might be on if I hadn’t been urged to break through those shackles, but I know that I am now on a path that is genuine and healthy and much less driven by a low self-concept and by fear. Somehow, something inside me woke from a dead sleep and promised that I did not have to live my life like that anymore. I did not have to cover my head with my hands while a man tried to kick at my face. I did not have to participate in all sick manners of escapism because I felt wretched and afraid.

Now, my life is full of wonder and an overarching sense of serenity. Not in every moment. Not in every situation. No. But, if fear rears its ugly head or I begin to question my own self-worth, I can slip into the quiet and breathe and pray and be. Sometimes, the quiet brings an instant sense of relief. Sometimes, I slip in and out of the quiet, vacillating between anxiety and peace. Life just keeps unrolling. I pray that I stay grounded and connected. I pray I can let go and accept whatever comes my way. I pray that I keep finding grace and the wherewithal to listen.

Life, right now, in all its beauty, is so very good.

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