The isolation was a cleansing time, the rain a warden keeping me imprisoned inside. Hawaii might have been a lovely place to steer myself right back to the kind of friends I had before moving, but Pahoa was none of that. We lived on a narrow road, it’s asphalt offering itself up in broken patches. The gravel drive pulled into a small carport attached to a house shaped like a perfect rectangle with a squat flat roof. It was skeletal in there. We had futons on the floor in our rooms, and no furniture to speak of. This rental was temporary.
With that in mind, I didn’t enroll in the local high school. I would have graduated early in NM but now I was lacking Hawaiian government and several other credits that would have put me back, not to mention going to school when we might move again shortly. So I did correspondence school and lazed my days away in a depressed stupor.
My eyes were fixed on one thing. Graduating and moving back to Albuquerque. I was waiting until I turned 17 and could go to college. Then I would make my own choices and my first one would be to get the heck out of there.
I kept in touch with my friends, first with letters and the occasional phone call on a calling card. We had a party line, which meant we shared a phone line with several other houses and at any given time you could pick up the phone and listen in to other’s conversations. This was long before cell phones and internet, even dial-up, so I was isolated in a way that left me feeling as though my friends were moving on without me. My boyfriend wrote less, and I knew that although I had no intention of moving on, since I was in the middle of nowhere, he was surrounded by other girls and it was only a matter of time before we broke up. At 16, your vision is limited.
And then it came, one devastating blow after another. Each relationship that I was waiting to return to was broken. My best friend was struggling with hallucinations, my friend’s brother tried to kill himself and my boyfriend informed me that he wanted to stay friends.
I hung up the phone and shook with an equal combination of rage and despair. I hurled the medicine cabinet open and was frantically tossing the contents looking for something to take the pain away. I wanted the sweet relief of numb to fill my soul. The quiet to keep me calm but my parents had nothing stronger than Tylenol.
I caught my reflection in the mirror. Searched her eyes, wild, blood-shot through, the lids puffing up and in, narrowed and empty.
This is the moment when God showed up.
Sometimes when people talk of their moment of salvation it is a subtle process, they make the first step and then over time it solidifies. Some people talk of a conversion moment like Saul, where they are thrown and when the scales fall away they are never the same.
Mine was both.
In my absolute fury and emptiness I called out to God. Not a prayer but an accusation. If you want me, if you’re real, prove it. Prove yourself.
And then, as though my knees were knocked by an invisible jolt, I fell to the ground in perfect peace.
And I sat, quiet and still. I didn’t hear a voice or know anything but God was real and He had thrown the gauntlet. I wanted to know more.
I’ll be writing more about My Testimony over the coming month and into the next few months as it’s hard to sum up a lifetime of steps to and away from God.