Faith, Life Musings

As strong as our weakest link

You guys, we are in trouble.

There is a young girl, a blooming beauty who is thinking of taking her own life. Her Dad is on his way, and I am waiting. I am waiting with her, trying not to mask what looks so much like me.

Only I was twenty and not fifteen.

I want to forget the fear I felt when I was in a small, ill-equipped jungle hospital in Ecuador and a young mother was brought in with her screaming baby. Depression had taken away her voice, Western medicine had nothing to offer. No amount of healing, no infiltration of intravenous solution could give her back her soul. It was on a leave of absence. She was hollow, and so were her vocal chords.

I shivered with recognition at the blankness in her gaze.

I’ve been there. And when I say I’ve been there, I mean sometimes I’m still there.

There are moments when I wake up and the very first feeling is panic.

I have to talk myself down from the precipice of anxiety on a daily basis.

The fetal position still brings the most comfort. When I think my love will spill over and empty me out of all that I am, I will curl into a ball and breathe staccato breaths until I think they will stop all together from the pain.

YOU are my lights. You light my path. You send birthday cards and text messages and hug me in the kitchen when I have that look. You send me funny pictures of safari animals and remind me that I am stardust and you are stardust and we belong to the trees and the heavens and there is no oxymoron in that.

You keep me afloat when I punch holes in my own life raft.

We do it for each other. We laugh and we curse and we share our guts and our glory and then we dance like fools. I answer your cries for help because you answer mine. When I am lost and far away, you remind me that I will always have a safety net of people to return to, holding me up. You promise me a home wherever you are.

Can we keep reaching for more? Can we pull more and more into this web of fragile strength extending from our heads to our toes to the roots below?

I am so proud of the connections we’ve built. I am so proud of the broken bread and the bruised bodies who keep showing up. I am here. You are here. We are in this together. No one is alone.


Can we shout this from the rooftops? Can we make it go viral? Can we love so freely there are baskets of left overs and no more hungry crowds?

I have been there. I have peered into that place between my vacant body and the cement barrier. I have looked over my shoulder at the semi passing. I have thought of the crashing metal, of my tangled car, of my fractured body, of the letting go of my hands from the wheel.

I have stood next to paned glass windows and been too afraid to look down, to admit how much I’d like to crawl through that open crack and fall.

I have thought of walking into a dark oblivion while I stared at the city skyline, one last time. I have thought of the way the waves could eat my pain, of the weight it would take to pull me under and not come back up.

So, I am scared. Tonight when I look into her tearful eyes, I can’t promise that it will get better. I can’t point to the one thing that saved me, or the exact steps I took to rejoin the land of the living.

I am scared because we are only as strong as our weakest link, and she is a canary and this life can be toxic. I am scared that we send fourteen year old boys to juvie instead of telling them how good they are, even when they’re at their worst. I am scared of the drugs we feed our children in our absence.

I am scared of the power we feel when we abuse each other. I am afraid of how easy it is to forget that LIFE is a common denominator we all share that can never be reduced.

I am scared because I am hurting. I am hurting and we are hurting and one of our lives is at stake.  

Tonight, all I can do is keep watch. I can protect the life in front of me. I can hold a vigil until the next one takes their turn, quietly showing up at the midnight hour. I can respond to the text messages asking for a phone call. I can write that letter to a friend, I can pull your body toward mine in a silent embrace when you have that look. I can grieve with you and stop trying to make it better, because right now it’s just not.

I can say I love you when you’re hurting, especially when you’re hurting, and tell you how proud I am, even if you can’t see the strength, even if all you are is broken. We are all broken apart. The knots in your stomach are the knots in mine, but together we can figure this out.

We are only as strong as our weakest link. Tonight I am asking for strength–for you, for her, for us. Our lives–all of them, depend on each other.

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