-written by Tanya
When I was in fourth grade I remember wondering if God was more accessible to me than just communicating to Him weekly at Church through prayers and hymns. I imagined Him to be vast and hiding beyond the atmosphere and galaxy, distant and unreachable…
His voice, if He had one, was thunder; His anger was lightning. I did not imagine Him to be gentle and caring; He was the ruler and judge. He confused me with His words and stories, He expected a lot from His chosen people, and we crucified His Son. No wonder He didn’t seem happy with us. I was certain He was not happy with me.
Throughout my childhood life was like riding on a public bus. God, Himself was the bus driver, in control of the bus and having my life in His hands, yet I walked up the bus steps and then past Him without glancing at His face, as if too ashamed to catch His eye.
Jesus was another passenger on the bus. Though I had accepted Him as my Lord and savior, I was taught early not to talk with strangers.
When I was in fourth grade, a cousin my age whom I loved dearly died from leukemia. Our family was not prone to talk about loss or suffering. We also moved to a new home and neighborhood and I, to a new school. We were not prone to talk about anxiety and fear.
One night I could not sleep because all of my fingertips were throbbing and in pain. I had bitten all of my nails down to the quick and they were bleeding. I had tortured my fingers for years for this was how I had “managed” my stress, fear, anxiety and other emotions. My mom tried various ways to stop me from biting my nails but she didn’t try to figure out why I did it.
In the darkness of my bedroom, I distinctly recall talking to God about this. “If you are here and if you care about me, please stop me from biting my nails, Jesus.” I was in agony but I think I fell asleep soon afterward.
During the weeks to come, I began to use my mother’s emery boards to file my nails. This became a weekly habit that I still do, fifty years later.
I did not recall this fleeting moment of a personal, healing relationship with Jesus until fifteen years ago when I began my journey of recovery from various forms of gripping addiction and I was directed to unpack my Higher Power. Through therapy, step work, writing, and endless jackhammer-like discussions, I was forced to look within myself and confront my emotions.
I did not, however, share my inner confusion, joy or turmoil with either the bus driver or the other passenger on the bus.
After a few years of painful relapses, I pulled myself up from the ground, crawled up the steps into the bus and stared at the bus driver for the first time. Help me, Father, for I do not know how to help myself.
I dragged myself up to sit on the bus seat and Jesus was beside me. He reminded me of my nail biting, my healed fingers and my weekly habit of filing them instead. Here, He had been with me all along, waiting for me to journey with Him, not to him or from Him.
Today I am sober and abstinent. I strive to remember daily that I travel with and am taught by my closest friend; and where I go, who I become and what I do, is up to the driver.
“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.“
– Psalm 145:18
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.“
– James 4:8
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.“
– Romans 8:37 – 39