It started with a single tear drop that made its way from the corner of his right eye and journeyed slowly downwards down his oval face and unto his singlet. He walked the breadth of his living room, rocking himself as he did and with his hands folded across his chest.
The tears became a steady stream, he couldn’t hold them back again. Then the sobs started, and his whole body shook as the spasms rocked his whole body. He kept walking and rocking himself trying to steady his knees from buckling under. It was a heart wrenching cry, an overflow from a deep well of sadness within.
He would go out tomorrow and he would smile, his friends would see a calm and well collected guy even in the face of so much pressure. They would commend him for his sturdiness. They wouldn’t see him crying, wailing and pleading for mercy at 1 am in the morning and soliciting for help.
‘Why am I crying?’ he asked himself
‘I don’t know’ came the reply
Slowly, the word formed as he thought hard about it.
Years of failing weighed heavily upon him. It wasn’t just the pressure that was getting to him. It was years of pent up emotions of despair, self-deprecation, despondency and other negative emotions that he couldn’t define.
He remembered the many times he had failed to measure up, and how often his best had not been enough. He struggled under the weight of the guilt as they rolled over him in waves for all the wrong choices he had made. He felt ashamed for all the times he had strayed away from the right path and for not been consistent with his relationship with God. Now, he needed God and he was not sure that he deserved any help from Him.
He was lonely. He had no one to talk to; everybody looked up to him for help. They all believed that he had it all together and wouldn’t believe him if he said otherwise. It has always been him carrying the burden all alone, all his life. Today, like many days in the last months, he was overwhelmed. He couldn’t contain the feelings and couldn’t hold the tears at bay. All evening he had struggled with the growing sadness and had distracted himself with movies.
They had succeeded for a while, but even as he laughed at the comedy he was watching, he had been aware of the increasing heaviness in his heart and the laughter had been surface deep. He could feel the tears bubbling underneath, like a boiling water in a cauldron.
As he paced, teary eyed and with red rimmed eyes, he prayed silently blubbing in between sobs. If only God would just listen and send help to him, he would be grateful.
“Lord, have mercy on me. I am sorry for not always doing right, for making the wrong choices. I acknowledge my guilt and I have no excuses. Have mercy on me”
I will not leave you nor forsake you
It came as a whisper.
Let me tell you a story
His mind began to fill with an image and the story played out in his head.
There was a little girl, her name was Sally. She was a free spirited girl, with wild, unruly red hair and light brown eyes, the apple of her father’s eyes. Every evening, she accompanied her father into the woods. Her father would hold her hands as they walked along the path surrounded by pine trees and dense undergrowth.
Sally loved her independence and after a while would remove her hands from her father’s and would skip happily away running ahead of him. No matter how hard her father tried, she wouldn’t listen and would whine and whine till he let go of her hand and allow her to explore, but he never let her out of his sight.
One evening, they were in the woods, and as usual she had removed her hand from her father’s and had ran ahead. The path was windy and tortuous, and it was at one such turns that she left her father behind. Although her father called to her not to go too far, she did not heed his call. At a fork in the road, she took a wrong turning and got lost.
It took a while for her to notice this and when she did, she could not trace her way back. She had always believed that she knew the way but she realized to her dismay that she didn’t. Fear coursed through her and she began to panic. It was getting dark and a chilly wind was blowing.
She cried out and called out to her father but heard no response. She was alone and was aware of the many dangers that could come to her. Tears coursed down her eyes and she began to regret not listening to her father. ‘I should not have left my father’s side’ she thought. Things got worse, her leg got caught in a trap. She screamed as she watched the blood ooze out from her legs and the pain shoot up her spine.
She heard a noise behind her and turned in fright, her eyes widened. She was overjoyed to see her father running towards her, with tears in his eyes. Seeing her father, she sighed with relief and burst into tears. Numerous emotions warred within her, each striving for supremacy. She was happy, ashamed and guilty.
With deft hands, her father released her from the trap and carried her in his arms all the way back home. While home, he tended to her wounds and bandaged her leg.
“I am sorry” she said after he had finished “I should have listened to you”
He smiled at her “Don’t you worry about it, you are safe now. You will be okay”
A question niggled at the back of her mind and she struggled with it for a while before blurting it out. She asked her father why he didn’t answer her while she was calling out to him in the woods.
“It was the sound of your voice that led me to you” he replied “whenever you screamed, I would pause and listen for the direction it was coming from. There were times the wind distorted the sounds and I couldn’t pinpoint the direction. I had to listen to get to you”
“I thought you were angry at me and decided to leave me” she said soberly, avoiding his eyes, as guilt seized her.
“Look at me Sally” he said and waited for her eyes to hold his “ I will never leave you” he watched as the light returned to her eyes “No matter how cross I am with you for disobeying me, I will not leave you alone, I will always come to your rescue and help you when you ask. I will always keep you from danger”
He leaned forward and embraced her.
He sighed and wiped the tears from his eyes. He didn’t feel alone anymore. Although the sadness was present and he still had the challenges to deal with, the assurance of His presence and His help made it bearable.
It was time to sleep. Tomorrow he would smile at people and it would be heartfelt.