Not since all of us as a family had wanted to believe that my fourth child would be a boy had we put ourselves out there in faith like this just knowing that we might meet disappointment head on and bear those brief moments of grief. I was reminded of that time (that was hardest on Carter) when his dog Red was hit by a car just a couple of months ago. We were devastated.
As I drove around looking for Janie I remembered the vague, but real disappointment when we learned that Adaline (and not Michael) was on her way. It was followed by great joy, of course-but I think we hold those inner moments of grief too closely sometimes. It keeps us from being real to one another.
As I thought of Janie on her own and alone I just had to seek her. I remembered what if felt like as a kid (and even now as an adult) to have others give up on me-to leave me on my own wandering path. To ignore how tired and exhausted I must be-and lonely. Something welled up inside of me and I had to stay with it-to keep trying.
In many ways it was like searching for myself.
Like I normally do I checked back in with the family over and over again as the hours passed by. My first reaction is always to seek someone to walk the difficult path with me. But in order to persevere I had to gather the strength to go at it on my own. Alone, I’d hop back in the van and drive up and down the main road just up from our house. Windows rolled down, wildly calling her name. “Janie. Come here girl. Please, come here. Janie come here now.”
I had a few moments of panic. “What if I don’t find her? What if I put my heart on my sleeve only to be hurt? Again. What if my prayers and hopes and longings come crashing down? Again. Will I make it through and still believe?”
My resurrection came before I found her. It came in me facing my fear that I was a terrible dog owner. That the “I told you so’s” would be coming in faster than I could say, “please give me grace.” It came in me acknowledging that my faith and salvation doesn’t come in being right or even in getting what I pray for. It comes in surrendering to something I’ll never fully understand.
I pulled into a driveway and slammed on the brakes. The car slid across the gravel and I threw my head to one side like a crazy person, “Why the hell is this happening to me-to us.” I hit the steering wheel. “Why can’t we just have a moment of peace. Why can’t I just find this dog and pretend like everything is alright. I cannot take anything else right now.”
God nudged me to go seek, to not give up-even if it meant that I came up empty-and for reasons I’ll never understand, I obeyed. As I drove the roads and called her name and faced the pain of knowing that not always did people seek me in such a way as I was seeking this dog-THIS DOG-it was then that I found my resurrection. You see, God was seeking me just as I was seeking Janie. I may not always see him and I may not always remember that he’s there, but while I wander the path alone he is there wildly seeking after me. That became enough.
In that moment I took a deep breath and I knew that it was in my praying and my seeking and my calling out that changed things-it changed me. I knew that whether or not I found our dog things would be okay.
On the drive back home I stopped calling her name and I stopped acting quite so crazy. All these feelings that I had been holding down came rising up. The fear of power, money, politics that has been around me over the last couple of months. The realization that black men are being shot and African college students are being massacred, and people right her in my community are hungry-while those of us with the education and economic means to do something about it keep ourselves occupied with distractions and holding one another down.
I can’t bear it all, but when I’ve been asked to bear just enough-I should.
I came around a corner and saw a man waving a white shirt-it looked much like a white flag moving through the air. He must have seen me driving back and forth for hours and knew I was looking for something. I slowed down and there on the side of the road was Janie. She laid there without moving at first. As I got closer she raised her head and then started to raise onto all fours. She was exhausted from her lonely run. I picked up her heavy, wet, muddy, tired body and carried her to the car.
All the way home thoughts of redemption went through my mind. So here I am surrounded by this beautiful life, living in a beautiful home, surrounded by encouraging people, spending my days farming, writing and collaborating. But my resurrection is in knowing the truth of those around me-putting myself out there in the world to hear, see, feel their pain. To share my inner darkness in a order to find more light.
I pulled into the driveway and honked the horn. Carter saw her first and threw his arms in the air and exclaimed, “YES.” One by one my family came out of the house to greet Janie. “We can’t believe you found her. We can’t believe she’s home. We can’t believe she’s okay. We thought she was gone forever.”
I was reminded today that God has had a very distinct path for me. One that has lead me right to where I am today. It’s given me a desire to have eyes wide open, to speak truth (when others can’t), to seek what’s pure and right whenever possible. It’s not promised to be easy, but it is promised to be meaningful.