Sam, will you go to prom with me?
Dear Hannah In almost all of the blog posts I've read, you always write about how God spoke to you and helped you when you felt lost. You talk about him whispering revelations in your ear and sending signs like the spiders.
I'm not a religious person. I don't go to Church. I don't get on my knees and pray. I believe there's a God in a superficial way, like how we say 'oh my god' and 'please dear god don't let me fail my exam!'
When I was going through a tough time in my life a few years ago, I turned my head to the sky and just started cursing at him. 'Why do you let these things happen to me? What did I do wrong? I hate you for doing this'
I know now that it was wrong to blame him.
Recently, I had to make a difficult decision. I say difficult, but really, it's quite superficial. I didn't know whether I should seize the day and do something that would be uncomfortable but possibly worthwhile, or, whether I should just sit back and wait for the boy to come to me. I asked God if I could have a sign of what I should do. I thought about your blog posts, and how God gave you epiphanies, and I asked if I could have the same
No one whispered in my ear and nothing fell out of the sky. But I did get many people telling me to just go for it. So I did. It was nerve wracking and made me want to throw up because of all the adrenalin flooding through me. But I did it
I have yet to find out whether it was the right decision, but all I want to know is- how do I know if God is talking to me? How do YOU know?
The other night I was driving. It was close to 9pm. I was sitting beside someone I really, really care about. I am sure you have that type of person in your own life, A. They make words hard to fumble with. They’re the person you want to call after they’ve just left you because you spent the whole car ride home coming up with a dozen more sentences just so you don’t have a reason to say goodbye so fast.
And I will always remember how full the car was with questions that night. Tears streamed down my face. It was dark outside. The yellow lines in the road were more pronounced than ever.
I wasn’t crying because of anything this person did, I was simply crying because I had this overwhelming sense that the words playing over us-- coming through the speakers of the car-- were actually true.
Love laid its breath against my chest My skin was thick but You breathed down all my walls
Hallelujah Oh hallelujah I found Your love when I lost my heart to You
I can’t really describe the moment at much more than that, A. I didn’t hear God audibly. No part of the car ride was interrupted by a booming PSA from the heavens above. But something within that dark car prompted me to pray to myself, “Be in this car. Be in this car.” I could feel some sort of thick presence. It grew stronger and stronger.
I have to believe prayers open doors where we cannot. I have to believe that a prayer of only four helpless words might be better than a long and stringy one. When my prayers are at their shortest, I believe God has more room to come in and breathe into the spaces where I am lacking.
I replayed the song on the way home.
Hallelujah Oh hallelujah I found Your love when I lost my heart to You
I just am a sucker, like the rest of the world, for getting found.
“It looks like it’s time for you to get lost,” the text message read.
It came in this morning after I’d vented out all my frustrations to my friend Nia about the walls I keep hitting in preparing for the second book. Lucky am I have to have a friend who knows that the remedy for not being able to find the words is, instead, finding a place to get lost for a little while.
“You’re right,” I replied. “Where can I find the woods?”
Not even an hour later, I was walking through some trails 25 minutes outside of Atlanta with a backpack on my shoulders, my notebook inside, a flannel tied around my waist, and my hair knotted into a bun because I couldn’t find an elastic.
You see, when some people are stressed they seek solace in the gym. Nature. The beach. A reliable view of a city skyline that never dares to change on them. I release and unravel fully when I go off into the woods and I can get a little lost.
I like to find the maps posted in the ground along the way. I like to find the “You Are Here” dot.
Today, when I checked for it, the square blue dot that was supposed to help me see where I was had faded off the page. There was no indicator of my whereabouts. I just had to pick a trail and keep on walking. I walked beneath a bridge. I noticed these pillars with letters drawn on them. One said R. One said O.
I stopped, pulled back, and noticed that there were four pillars with a letter etched out on each one. They spelt out P-R-O-M. One bigger pillar in front of the four had scripted, “Sam, will you go to prom with me?”
I stood there for a minute surveying the grand gesture. I thought about taking a picture but chose not to. I know prom-posals are a big deal now. I actually don’t remember if my boyfriend even asked me to prom or we just assumed we would go together but now there are floats and big productions and students trying out-do one another. It all leads up to this one pivotal high school memory that is either the “best” or “worst” of all time, or just supremely average. As for me, I will honestly have to tell my children one day, “All I remember is that I looked like a hooker (my mom should have never let me wear that dress) and the chicken tasted like rubber.”
Back to Sam and her epic prom-posal...
I don’t know Sam. And I don’t know the person who went through all that trouble to ask Sam to prom but I have to believe to that it wasn’t easy for them. Just the location of those pillars, at the top of a steep and rocky hill, was difficult to get to. The letters were massive. The energy exerted is definitely commendable.
For a moment I just stood in Sam’s shoes and I was thankful that someone, somewhere, decided to make Sam the center of their universe. I think that’s one of the most special things to see: when someone makes someone else feel like they are the only one.
I had a girl just the other day tell me over Skype that she isn’t big into faith and God but she likes to put her faith in humanity some of the time. I had to agree with her. For as faulty and messy as we are, humans have this commendable capacity to choose one another in deliriously great ways. It’s one of the most beautiful things to witness. One of the best restorers of hope and faith.
So I can only imagine that Sam, in that moment, didn’t feel like an accident. She probably didn’t feel forgotten about. I’m willing to bet Sam felt really chosen.
I’m willing to say you’ve wanted to be chosen too, A.
I wonder if you are anything like me, A. Anything like a girl who for so long let her questions and her anger get in the way of God. Anything like a girl who, even if God was screaming at her, she would have never heard him because God speaks in a language of love and she only thought the bible was a language of rules and "get better & holier" attitudes.
I think sometimes God just whispers, "chosen," and we only have a view of him that makes us hear, "less than."
As I kept walking into the woods, I could not help but invest too much energy into Sam and her prom date. Did she have a good time? Did that person win her heart? Are they together still? This one, elaborate gesture on a pillar was making me plot out the existent or non-existent history of Sam and her prom date’s love story in my mind.
And all I could think to myself was that I hoped her prom date knew that big gestures are cool-- just like big signs from God-- but it’s the little stuff that will win a heart and grow a person’s trust in you.
It’s little choices. Little moments when you decide to fight for someone. Saying it anyway. Doing it anyway. Showing up. Figuring out how to say. Opening a door. Sharing a secret. Pushing past a barrier. Letting someone in.
I think this all becomes the sort of evidence you could place on the table of a court room. If the evidence was good enough-- strong enough, recorded well enough-- then a jury would be convinced of whether or not a person chose to fight for you.
A, I don’t know you. You don’t fully know me. And I am sorry if I ever made it seem like I was hearing God audibly all the time. There have been times when I have that undeniable push in my gut and times when I have felt a whisper. But at the end of the each day, I am just left to account for and record the evidence of when I felt like God had fought for me. When I felt like he stepped out on a limb to get to me. When, even in my suffering, he surrounded me with people to lean into.
I, too, have screamed up at God and asked him why he would allow something like “this” to happen. But I already know the answer: if I was a whole person, if I wasn’t someone prone to suffering and falling out of my own faith, I would not need God and I would not need people.
And why create us-- why even be here-- if we don’t need one another to push into tomorrow?
A, whatever you chose to do, I am proud of you. I think you made the right choice and I am usually, always, the advocate for taking the route which makes you feel like you are going to vomit. It’s not the easy way but it makes you feel alive.
I think God wants that too. I think he wants us to make choices and feel alive-- as opposed to dead and exhausted by this world-- at the end of the day. I think he wants us to open up our eyes to the little moments and find a way to treasure those.
Not every moment with God comes with a prom-posal. It just doesn’t. It doesn’t always come with a whisper either. Sometimes there are just moments where you feel okay. Or you feel at peace. Or you whisper to someone holding your heart, “I don’t have all the answers.” And it’s a safe place when you both can agree that there are no answers pulling one of you ahead of the other to win this race faster.
This is not a race. This is not a fight for fireworks or whispers. This life is just a collection of evidence that a fight took place, if you ask me.
You won’t hear him all the time. You might not see him everyday. But please still look for the evidence. You still standing here, somehow making it, is good evidence to start with.
tying you closer than most,