I walked out of the grocery store discouraged, pushing my half empty cart to our dusty mini van with one hand as I grasped my daughter, Noelle’s hand with the other.
When I finally got it loaded up I plunked my head onto the steering wheel inadvertently causing the horn to blare and startle a passing shopper while my four year old burst into laughter in the back seat.
As I put the van into reverse and pulled out of the parking lot I started to chastise myself for overspending as I reviewed the receipt in my head. “Where did I go wrong? Am I ever going to go out grocery shopping without leaving the store feeling so guilty?”
Thought trains like this can quickly escalate to a session of beating the crap out of myself so I began to look for footholds that would help me stop the downward spiral.
“One grocery trip doesn’t define your life, neither does one morning of writing work. You are more than this snapshot.”
Suddenly Noelle called out: “Hey mom! How ’bout some music?”
Yes music! Something grounding, foundational. I made my request to Siri and miraculously she understood and cued up the appropriate track, Come to Me by Bethel Loft.
“I am the Lord your God. I go before you now. I stand beside you, I’m all around you. Though you feel I’m far away, I am closer than your breath. I am with you, more than you know.”
I started to sing these words, belt them out like a prayer my life depended on. Suddenly, instantly, I was transported back in time to my mother’s car, myself a little girl in the back seat.
I was years away watching her sing along to powerful music, dancing with her hands and drumming on the steering wheel with a passion that spoke to the depth of her need to cling, to hold on tight.
I didn’t know it at the time, but she was praying through music, unintentionally teaching me to lean into the power of lyrics when my own prayers weren’t flowing. When I was losing my way again.
She was teaching me that when you feel too weak to speak truth into your own life, find a song that will do it for you and sing. Sing loud and squeaky and off key. Sing like your life depends on it, because right now, it does.
For all the times I saw my mother give up, there were twice as many times that I saw her fight on.
Through her depression, her fear, her crippling anxiety.
Whatever people may think about those who take their own lives, there is depth beneath that one choice that goes unknown to those on the outside. There is more to a life than that final choice. Yes, it speaks to sickness, weariness and defeat but it doesn’t tell the story of all the other times when they prayed a song and fought on.
It started with a shopping trip, it almost turned into session of despair, but instead it became a prayer through song.
A moment to remember the good practices that my mother left behind.
Ultimately it ended in passing this practice onto my own daughter, who stepped out of the van singing… “Come to me, I’m all you need.”