11 Jan god moments
Picture a dry erase board with tons of black and red writing all over it… ideas, thoughts, comments, quotes, plans, list of things to do. Then imagine taking a stiff, dried up eraser and trying to wipe the board clean. It leaves a ton of smudged ink behind. Now write some thoughts down then erase them. Now write more. Now take the eraser in your left hand and the marker in your right hand and start writing fast. See if your left hand can erase it all. Smudges. More smudges, more writing, now erase! Now do it faster and faster. Are you feeling frenzied? Stressed? Crazy? Why won’t the eraser clean the ink off? Wipe, wipe, wipe. Write! Write! Wipe! Smear!
This is my brain. This is how my brain works. It almost feels a little manic at times. Thoughts and ideas swirl, then my mind erases them and latches onto another train of thought. It is exhausting. It keeps me awake at night, and distracted during the day. I once had a customer tell me that she thought I needed to be on ADHD meds because I jumped from topic to topic, with such energy, that it was difficult to keep up with me. How embarrassing. Reel it in, Holly! Mason used to describe my pace as two hands smacking together, hard and fast, go go go! He described his pace as a hand making waves outside the passenger window of a car, just easy going and light and free, just cruising along. At which point, I politely suggested he pick up the pace so we could get to school on time! Go, go, go! Jeez!
That doctor, my customer, was right. Mase was right. I am a bundle of energy and sometimes a little much to take. I laugh when I think of my first yoga class. I forget the actual name but it was specifically designed to hold poses for extended periods of time, the goal being to clear your mind and be in the moment only. It was a 90 minute class so there was incredible opportunity to be still and let everything go. I laugh because it took me all of 47 seconds to wish I had my phone, to wonder who was texting me, to ache for a Facebook fix. Ridiculous, right? I could not sit still. It was physically painful for me and I was hugely unsuccessful at clearing my mind. It raced like a greyhound after a bunny, and I couldn’t get a grip. Hysteria set in and I started to giggle. My friend had to shush me several times. I was such a yoga loser. I have spent the greater part of my adult years trying to rein myself in without compromising who I am or losing the passion that makes me ME! Obviously, I still have work to do.
I’m reminded of a bible verse I learned early on that tells us to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). I didn’t fully grasp what this verse was suggesting when I first read it, and I’ve mulled it over a few times since. Get a grip on your thoughts, Holly. Make your mind obedient to your will. Don’t let your paranoia or your insecurities or your fears get the upper hand. Focus. Think one thought at a time. Finish that thought. Don’t jump all over the place! When negative thoughts try to destroy you, reject them and force yourself to think new thoughts. As one of my friends advises quite often, “Change the tape in your head.” Yes, I get it, I think. Take every thought captive.
That’s not the whole verse though. The rest of it is becoming clear to me as I continue to mourn the loss of my pride and joy, Mason Justice. I have way too much time to think and feel and digest, and it has been an arduous process. Grueling. Painful. I struggle with all kinds of emotions and oftentimes have to willfully and purposefully shift my thinking away from my grief and pain just to survive. This is me, taking every thought captive. When I think of only bad things, like an argument with Mase or a ‘parenting failure’ moment, it can almost destroy me. It can debilitate me for hours and leave me sobbing on the floor. I beg the universe to give me some reprieve, and cry out to my God to fill my mind with good thoughts and great memories. I ask for protection against my own mind that rebelliously tries to destroy me every single day. I pray to change the tape in my head and desperately try to remember the bazillion amazing moments I had with my incredibly beautiful, kind, witty son. I can regain a little peace when I rein in my thoughts, and so I try. I try and I try.
One of the biggest issues I am having is that I am questioning my faith. Shock. Gasp. Yes, me. The girl who blogged early on that she was hard wired for faith is now calling into question the very faith she believed was in her DNA. I read so much, and I am exposed and open to a lot of different ways of thinking about God and the universe, creation, spirituality, faith, life after death. I’m almost obsessed with it these days, and it has done a number on me. Never before has it mattered so much that there is a God, there is a heaven, and that I am going to be there with my boy. I never, ever doubted that before… probably because the stakes weren’t really that high. I just believed and faith came easily. Now, we are in an entirely different ballgame. I HAVE to go to heaven. There MUST be one. I NEED there to be a god, and a heaven, and an eternity. It is the only way I will ever see my boy again. Yes, I realize that my focus is scattered and my motives are a little off.
Imagine that conversation going on in my head at high speed, over and over and over. I’m telling you, it is exhausting. I’m sure I am not unique in this. I am sure we all do this on some level, at some point, about something important to us. That cyclical thought process, the problem that cannot be solved, the track set on repeat that plays 936 times before we’ve even opened our eyes in the morning. This is the moment we need to take every thought captive. We need to read the entire verse and understand what it is saying… we can destroy speculation and make our thoughts submit to the knowledge of God. Sounds crazy, I know. I’m not religious, remember? I’m just working on my relationship with God.
While in Mexico, I had a couple of very dark days. Like Milli Vanilli, I blame it on the rain. It was softly falling. I seriously could not take much more of it, and felt so depressed and emo for a couple of days. It could have been the combo of first Christmas and first NYE without Mase, or the rain, or just a normal cycle of grief… I don’t really know. I just know there was a moment where I cried out loud and begged God for a sign that He is real. I needed to know for sure that I would see Mason again. I cannot bear the idea that I won’t. I got myself to the point where I was evaluating all of my religion options and checking out their ‘afterlife’ plans. With this one, I go here. With that one, I go there. Another one tells me we cease to exist. Then there is the option that tells us we are just big bursts of light. And this one says, if I am really good, I could come back as a cow. Uh. No thanks. (I think I made some of those up, but you catch my drift…)
I’ve been ‘round and ‘round with this and, like every other human being on the planet, I just don’t know which one is right. Is it a combo pack? Are we saved by grace and we turn into big balls of light? Is God the one I learned about when I was 15 and the one I believe in? Or is he different, a stranger, and I have got it all wrong. It’s pretty important that I figure this out ASAP. Not for me. When it was just for me, I believed. I had faith. I didn’t panic or over think or desperately seek definitive answers. I just knew. But now the stakes are higher, the highest they could ever be, and I have to know that I’ve aligned myself with the right option. Know what I mean?
Before I left for Mexico, I got a call about someone who was feeling pretty low and making very negative, alarming statements. People who loved this person very much were worried that something terrible was about to happen. These people called me. They asked ME what to do to save this friend’s life. I was so touched by that, and honored, and humbled. We all worked together and crisis was averted. I don’t mean to make light of it, but I honestly did what I knew to do and other people did what they did, and maybe a life was saved. I know the person received an overwhelming amount of love that day, and did not self-harm. That was great. Off to Mexico I went.
Then this happened…
Yesterday, it was a different person, different story, different set of loved ones, same potential crisis. Only this time, no one could locate the person. The ‘goodbye’ text was sent, and that was it. No more communication. Then my phone rang. When I heard the information, my heart broke. I didn’t even know these people, but I hurt for them all the same. I knew what that mama was in for if this person went ahead with the plan to end it all. I thought about what I would do had I received that text from Mason. My mind raced back to June 3rd, 2013, and I wished like crazy that I had received that text. I didn’t, but if I had… I know exactly what I would have done. So I shared my recommendations with the caller, offered my help however it was needed, and the same sort of activity ensued. I did what I knew how to do, people did what they did, a lot of prayer and love and hope went out into the world that day. And… the person chose to stay. The person chose to accept the offer of help. The person chose to live. AMAZING!!!! This time, I know a life was saved.
Here’s the kicker for me, the absolute personalized message from God that I received. The person was found by none other than a Detective Mason. Whaaaaaaaaaat? When I heard that, I got chills all over my body. My hair stood on end, and the back of my head prickled. What are the odds of that? Someone please do the math. Before you scoff at me, call me superstitious or religious, or chalk this one up to coincidence, do the dang math. What are the odds?!?!?! I think, no I know, that was a personalized message just for me. A bright red bow on a tidy little package of love addressed to ME. That was the answer, the sign I begged for. I cried to God, I poured out my heart for the millionth time, and this was the confirmation He gave.
Did he answer me on the religion question? Nope. Did he tell me I picked the right one? Huh-uh. Did he show me his face, tell me he really is male, explain what the ball of light is, or clear up the 7 levels theory? No, silly. He didn’t do anything but give me a name; one name that rocked my whole world, again. Mason. With that one name, my faith was restored. My purpose confirmed. My future directed. With one word, God handed me a fresh new eraser for my mind’s dry erase board and gently wiped the crazy worries and manic thoughts and desperate fears right out of my mind. I am on the right path, and I was specifically chosen and prepared for this journey. I didn’t know it before but I am certain of it now.
I sat in my car and sobbed. I thanked the Lord for loving me, trusting me, and selecting me. I thanked him for Mason, the love of my life. I thanked him for confirming that He has Mason right where he is supposed to be, and I am right where I am supposed to be. I don’t know all there is to know about God, but I know that I can love him in the form that he first introduced himself to me. I don’t have to figure out anything more than that. I have a new perspective of what it means to ‘take every thought captive.’ I don’t have to figure out things beyond my control, or worry about what the future holds. The worst has already happened. What is there to fear now? I can pick up a new eraser, and gently wipe away the doubts and fear and panic. I can slow it down, trust again, and remember my faith. I know that I am right where I am supposed to be and I am making a difference.
Here is a text I received from that mama yesterday… “God is showing you that through your situation and prayers for others who are lost and in despair, He is using you to save lives Holly! You are a powerful intercessory for the children of God. By showing you through the name of Detective Mason, He wants you to be encouraged. All is not wasted or lost!” I don’t know this woman. She doesn’t know me, and had no idea what I was struggling with in my mind. She couldn’t have known about the hidden frenzy of my most private thoughts or that my deepest fears were building at a manic pace. Yet she took a moment to confirm something HUGE just by sending a simple text. Again, I sobbed. I took huge gulps of air, then sobbed some more. I knew right then that I wanted to write about it, so I snapped a selfie for the blog. Yes, I’m bawling but smiling. Yes, those are real tears.
If that wasn’t enough, I got a text from a friend last night with a link to a video of Nate Johnson, Mason’s favorite youth pastor and the pastor who baptized him, speaking about faith and recognizing ‘god moments’ in 2014. My friend sent me the link because Nate mentions the impact Mason’s death had on him, and the god moment he experienced the week Mason left. (He just happened to be in town that week and was able to speak at Mason’s memorial. The dude lives in Kentucky. Of all the weeks to be back in Vegas, it was that one?! Scoff if you must. But again, I’d challenge you to calculate the odds first.) Nate started a new trend on Instagram called #uwillknowitwhenuseeit and asked people to post pics of their god moments throughout 2014 and use that hashtag.
I’m overwhelmed by the number of ‘god moments’ I just had. It’s like the shock and awe method of dropping bombs. BOOM! God moment! BOOM! God moment! BOOM! Another god moment. I just had to share the story on the blog and hope that it encourages someone, somewhere.
Hey Mase,I’m taking every thought captive. I get it. I really get it. Everything is going to be okay. I’ve got my hand out of the passenger window, baby, and I’m making waves. I’ll see you soon.