It was the end of a worship service, sermon delivered, voices singing quietly. I felt someone plop down next to me in the pew. She and I are casual friends; we enjoy talking and spending time together but I don't know her intimately and couldn't tell you the longings of her heart.
She leaned into my right side and nervously whispered, "I don't know why I'm here except that I know God told me to tell you this: keep going. That's all. Keep going."
I whipped my head up to look at her, searching her eyes. How did she know? She just smiled. A tap on my arm, and then she got up and headed back to where she was sitting.
Unremarkable, really. Anyone could have said those words, and yet, no one could have known what they might mean to me on that day, in that moment.
I am my own worst enemy. I slander myself with words of discouragement and darkness, and I have to tell my weak brain, Stop. What's the truth here? What's the truth?
The truth is that I began to write a book for my family. The truth is, that book took on a life of its own. The truth is that it's going in a direction I can't see to a destination unknown, and in the meantime there are columns to write and people to encourage and blog posts to pen.
But those dark moments. Jim, pastoring my church and heart, reminds me, "Don't question in the dark what God has told you in the light." I could do that every time I open my laptop.
But she said (and God put it there), keep going.
I told our story to a group of young moms gathered together for friendship and grace on a cold morning in March. Heavily pregnant, wearily carrying that weight, she told me before I began that her daughter had died, still a newborn, a victim of SIDS. She discovered she was pregnant again almost the moment after the tiny grave was dug.
Humbled, I told of Mighty Joe and the holes in his brain, of running over Annesley, of finding Caroline barely alive. I talked of shifting hope and loving the gifts we'd been given more than the Giver. I glanced at her from that stage and felt my vocal cords wobble. She, too, had been through the Refiner's fire, but the dross was newly flung and the edges didn't seem so worn and shiny yet.
She waited until the rest had left, and then she quietly approached me, too. "Keep going", she said. "Keep telling your story and articulating the gospel. Just... keep going."
Garrulous I was rendered speechless. She, hurting and recovering, and pressing in to her Savior, she had told me again what the Holy Spirit was conveying. I got into my car that day and looked up. I hear you, Lord.
Keep going. I am.
Thank you, Kari and Ruth.