I woke up this morning thinking about ways to die by suicide. But before I opened my laptop to research flights to the Golden Gate Bridge, I thought about last night. I thought about the NF jam session I had with my friend on the way to mid-week service. I thought about our conversation concerning suicide—this taboo topic—and how he handled it with grace and dark humor, making it easier to digest for both of us. I thought about the awkwardness and social anxiety I felt because we got to church an hour late and, because I hadn’t been in several months, the amount of old and new people there was overwhelming.
Sitting in the back of the room with lights dimmed, and listening to my young adult pastor bridging the gap between “Wakanda Forever!” and the Kingdom of God, made me smile. I thought, “I’ve missed this. I’ve missed having a community, worshipping corporately.” And in that moment of watching the band worship through music, and my peers worship with hands and lifted voices raised high to the throne of Heaven, I heard Holy Spirit whisper “I need you here.” I struggled to lose myself in His love (what else is new?) but I did surrender. It was a beautiful moment.
And then it all came crashing down.
I thought about my pastor who checked in on me, which made me feel less invisible, before leading me in a search of my friend so we could tell her happy birthday. I thought about seeing my handful of friends and acquaintances and how good to felt to catch up with them, to be a part of their lives. I thought about the relief I felt when I found my friend and how we headed out in the rain in search of his car and food after, him griping about the rain ruining his limited-edition Marvel shoes all the way. I thought about our laughter shared over the nearby advertisement of Lucky Charm milkshakes in the Steak n’ Shake drive-thru and how we vowed to try one next time. I thought about how, in the Red Lobster parking lot, we swapped milkshakes and conversation about Christian rappers and their journeys, and how I didn’t want NF to become the next Chester Bennington.
I thought about the passing thought I had while he drove me home of how I wanted to jump out of the car and into the road while he was still driving. I thought about how that made him sad and protective of me, and how I wanted to run away from him in that moment. I thought about how I told him that I wanted to push him away because he was too close to me and how he didn’t know how to respond to that. I thought about his hug before I exited his car. It was a tight, protective hug, one that friends who have become like siblings know well. I thought about the slight irony of asking him to text me when he got home so I knew he was safe. I thought about the panic attack I struggled not to have because of the events of the night, specifically being around so many people at once, and running over and over in my mind the things I could have said differently or not at all (stupid crippling anxiety!). I thought about my lovely friend from Virginia who, upon learning of my distress, sent me kitten videos to distract me.
As I sit thinking about this (all of the above reflecting happened within an hour time frame this morning), I find that life is neither good or bad, just like Christianity is not black or white. It’s a balancing act of hanging in the grey areas and learning to acknowledge and appreciate them, even the dark grey ones.