I was not supposed to have woken up. Waking up on the day after I planned to commit suicide was not part of my plan. I remember the moment my eyes opened to the new morning. I could see.
There was a clarity that hadn’t been there for as long as I could remember. Not a clarity like when you understand something, but the clarity of a blank canvas. The clarity of a flyleaf page in a new book.
If you don’t look at the cover, you can’t know if the flyleaf is the one in the front or the back of the book. You can’t know if it is the end of the story or the beginning. I think each flyleaf is always both. That’s what my blank ceiling reminded me of when I opened by eyes that morning. It was a strange thing to feel like I had died yesterday, just like I wanted to. But I hadn’t planned on waking up. I hadn’t planned on feeling resurrected from the dead world I had “lived” in for so many years.
So what now? I knew God was in my room that morning. Nothing physically about my room was different from yesterday. The little Christmas tree I kept up all year was still blinking its multicolored lights in the corner. My dresser was still cluttered with overflowing memory boxes. Dimebag Darrell’s picture was still tacked on the wall beside my bed.
The only thing different was me.
I stared at the ceiling, thinking about how phenomenal it was that the very God I hated so much had intervened in my life at the exact moment I was about to throw away the life he gave me. My heart grew warm as I thought about it, until tears streamed from my eyes. It made me cry to think that God was not only real, but that he wasn’t far away. He didn’t just make life and then watch the pieces randomly chaotically fall where they may. He was involved. I never would have believed that if I hadn’t experienced the presence of God so tangibly the night before. The man who prayed for me spoke so specifically to me and about me. “He has seen you cry yourself to sleep at night,” he’d said. That amazed me, humbled me, and comforted me.
“Well, I wasn’t supposed to wake up today,” I spoke out loud to the God who had saved my life. “So… why am I still here? Why did you save me? What do you want from me today?”
I lay awake for hours, just thinking. When it came time to eat breakfast I wasn’t hungry, and asked permission to walk to school instead. October had brought its normal relief from the Mississippi heat and I kicked down the road, on my way.
As I turned the corner at the end of our block, I dug through my bag to find a lone cigarette I had stashed in the pocket of my notebook. I hid it there since Granny didn’t allow me to bring cigarettes to school. A row of trees to my left, an empty church to my right, all looked on as the tobacco flared into a glow. The air felt different. It seemed so perfect on my bare arms. It seemed thoughtfully measured as it played with my hair. But my cigarette clashed with the perfection of the breeze around me. The same birds that always mocked my dreaded mornings now sang songs of celebration, like they knew it was my birthday — their coronation of my new physical and spiritual life rose into the autumn beauty.
Here’s a new daughter! What glory! Oh, the wonder of the great things that are in store for her! they sang.
I felt the wonder of their song. It was everywhere. It began to overwhelm me, and I dropped my head to turn away from the undeserved kindness of the gentle wind kissing my face. When I looked down I noticed the golden leaves I’d been walking on. Then I looked up at the evergreens and wondered where all the leaves I’d been trampling on had come from. They could have traveled very far, I thought. The idea of their origin plagued me. I imagined they had followed the wind all the way from somewhere I could never picture myself going, like New York. Then I thought, But God knows where each leaf came from. The thought surprised me and made me giggle with the idea there was a real person like God who knew not only what state each leaf had come from, but what tree and seed, and when and where that seed fell, and how long it took to grow, and on and on and on back to the moment he created trees.
And he knew the exact moment the leaf I was standing on fell, and why. I stopped walking and stared at the leaves. I began to laugh at the romance of it all. The mystery and beauty and wonder of an ancient, intricate, creative, thoughtful, mathematical, brilliant, artistic, playful God.
How immense and overwhelming! My mind struggled to grasp the fact there was a living God who still made trees grow, lose leaves, and spread seeds. I laughed at the beauty of God and fell a little more in love with him.
Excerpted from The Reason: How I Discovered A Life Worth Living by Lacey Sturm. Copyright ©2014 by Lacey Sturm. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used with permission. Watch Lacey this Tuesday on LIFE TODAY.