To: Holderofyourhand@gmail.com

From: Hannah.Brencher@gmail.com

Subject:

Message:

"I will make it through this... even it kills me.  Just hold me close. Please."

Receipt: Message Sent.  January 25, 2011. 11:10am.

 

This single sentence, this single email, is all the proof I've ever needed to know that Depression has gnashing teeth.

That it sits on the lungs. That it sucks out the life. That it pales the face. That it creates prisoners.

The email was sent at 11:10am. Square in the hollow of January. A time when the tree branches cry for clothing on their skinny limbs and the snow on the New York City sidewalks browns five minutes after the falling.

I wonder where I was sitting. What shoes were on my feet. The moments that mounted before I tapped this email. If a peace flooded me after.  Either way, I shoved the message into an email and sent it off. And then I waited for the response.

God giggled over my last blog post.

I don't exact know what a "God giggle" sounds like but I definitely wasted the last 15 minutes trying to figure it out. We now have three options: One, two or three. Kindly review and post your votes in the comment section below.  (I left the third one because I didn't want to X out the fact that God might have a French accent.)

Anyway, like a voracious school child with an appetite for fruit snacks, he giggled over this truth: His fingerprints were all over that blog post. All. Over. It. Like a bad 48 Hours mystery case where one hour in you can say, without blinking, "DUDE. IS. A. MURDERER."

Here's the secret you never knew:  When I started blogging in this space three years ago, I made it clear that I wouldn't be talking about God. If people wanted to find God in my words then good for them. If they wanted to assume that I believed in something bigger than my body then good for them. But my words would never leak of a Father. My tales would never tromp around in Godly Rain Boots. We just were not going to tread through that mess.

"Well, do you ever talk about God on your blog?" I remember my mother asking me one day.

Cue Rage Cage Daughter Reaction. (Simply because my mother has printed out every single blog post since day one so she clearly knew already that I was not writing about God.)

A) Why would I? B) People are so, so, so, so (so) sick of having religious views shoved down their throats. C) I want people to read me, not snooze over mer. D) HTML bible verses hitched at the footer are just plain tacky and I ain't no tacky blogger. E) God only moves and shakes in my life some of the time. E +1/2) I only let Him in to some of my life. F)  I only feel his presence some of the time.

There it is. Right there. Letter F. Of course I couldn't blog about God. It wasn't that my whole body cringed in the thought of telling people about being washed in the blood (no, parts of me definitely still cringe over that image), it was that I had no actual, tangible, real story to tell anyone about how God was working in my life. I was not letting him work. I was micro-managing the Creator of the Universe. I was taking him out of my back pocket when I needed help. I was reaching for His hand and never His face. I was showing him off like a diamond-studded iPhone case whenever I entered the church setting: "PRAISE THE LORD, I AM FEELING SO HOLY THIS MORNING. Jesus actually washed my hair this morning, it was a truly blessed experience. There are fleck of gold still left in my locks if you want proof." Epic fail? Seriously though. That was my "God Life."

So God is probably high-fiving me from his throne right now saying, "Thanks for keeping that awful perception of me off this blog, girl. You Is So Cray."

God & I were good. As good as that relationship in 6th grade with the boy you met in the online chat room. No strings attached. No baggage. Just banter about Pokemon and meaningless stuff like that. (Was I the only one?)

And then life fell apart.

And I could hold little to nothing together.

And no one-- no one, no one, no one-- could see how I was crumbling.

It was happening on the inside.

Like chunks falling off pillars in my heart.

On the outside I was a girl with all the stuff it took to make dreams come true in her limbs. I was beautiful. I was new to New York City. I was trotting into the United Nations every morning. I was making friends.

And I was about to play Godzilla to my own life.

 

I think we treat God like he is a freeloader of the All or Nothing mentality.

That we either feel him like a tidal wave. Whooooooshhhhh. Or he doesn't show up at all. And, if that is the case, I chose the part where he never showed up.

That doesn't sit pretty in my spirit anymore. It doesn't sit pretty when I think about the countless people who have walked & ran & slid away from God because they feel like he didn't show up. That he didn't hear them.

And so, I solved the issue raging in my soul with a single email.

11:10am. January 25th. 2011. The very day when God struck down Yahoo with his mighty fist and picked a Gmail account instead.

When God feels distant, God gets an email address. Right? Maybe?

Well, it was the only thing I could think to do. I didn't feel God. His presence wasn't cloaking me. And I felt like my prayers had grown stale and crusty. That I was saying them into the air with all the Empty already sitting in my voice. And I needed to reach God. I was hungry to reach God. And I was tired, so tired, of everyone saying I was not trying hard enough. How does one not try hard enough? How does one recklessly abandon themselves to the Love of God when they just feel like the man who invented rain dances: he gathered the town, did the jig and went away sulking when the rain never came.

I was done with how the world told me I SHOULD respond to God. I was done with perfect little prayers. I was over, SO OVER, feeling like I could only reach him some of the time. Mainly in the mornings. When I was extra holy. And not sinning.

The email address was available: HolderOfYourHand@gmail.com. The email address that I think God would have chosen all this time. I set the email up and after just 15 minutes I was unloading junk & worry & sadness & fear & desire & hope.

And it was releasing. It was pouring out from me. It was skittering away from my own hands.

Send. Send. Send. Send. Send.

No filter. No fear. No "Am I doing this wrong God?! Am I not getting this whole prayer thing right?!"

I could picture God, slugging a pumpkin spice latte in the rasp of January, checking his new email address. Watching it flood with the petitions of his Little Ones. Taking minimal breaks to watch viral kitties on YouTube. Coming right back to his hub to respond in His own Godly Ways.

And the first time I felt him responding. In the trees around me. In my spirit. In the parts of me that needed miracles like Shaq needed someone to make him bigger shoes all those years.

This whole, long story to say just this:

I want to believe that God meets us wherever we are at. Whatever we are feeling. Whatever pain is edging us out around midnight. I want to believe that he tears up over us, his little kids, trying to shoulder every sorrow the world has ever given us. I want to believe that he loves us so much that syllables won't stack and sentences won't string when he goes to verbalize it. I want to believe that I can reach him, at any time, in any situation.

I know that the email address isn't the crux of God but for a girl so battered by the depression and what the world had told her was "prayer," it was the starting point.

The hopeful thought that in a world where we can email anyone, find anyone, tag anyone, poke anyone, tweet anyone, reach anyone-- we could reach God too.

And he would read us. Digest us. Click us open on his iPhone wherever he was standing.

And that-- even before we thought to click send-- he was responding. With a love so mammoth. A love so raging that it blows Arial & Georgia & Times New Roman straight out of the font family tree.

Dear Friends-

The email address HolderOfYourHand@gmail.com does, in fact, truly exist. I email God quite frequently through it.

It is open to anyone and everyone who wants to use it. I don't open emails. I don't even login into the account anymore. I won't respond back with God Wisdom (yikes). But it feels pretty radical to feel like you are actually sending prayers somewhere. That they have a destination. So please consider using it. It's the reason why it still exists.

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