Ashes (Part 1 of 2)
When life is darkest, know that you are not forgotten. Our newest Voice Miki is a living example. With her family falling apart, Miki found herself contemplating suicide until God found her and offered a way out, a new beginning and a life of Grace. This is part one of her story of being raised from the ashes.
I am a phoenix.
Sitting in the bathroom, tears sketching lines from eyes down cheeks, I looked in the mirror at the exhausted and unfamiliar face.
“What have I become?”
Living in a nightmare, surviving one day just to get to the next, I wondered when it would be over. Was I strong enough to put another foot in front and another and another? My thoughts fell into the abyss of potential and plunged ever deeper.
It can end now.
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Eyes shot open, the tears continuing their solemn brushstrokes along the canvas of my face. It can end now, the consideration echoed in the pathways of my mind.
The thought echoed down passageways I had never traveled before. “It can end now.”
“But then… what about mom?”
Could I truly forsake her and leave her alone in the nightmare?
If you end it now, you lose. They win. Don’t do it.
New voice. Logical. Hopeful.
No, I could never do such a thing. To be this selfish? To seek release when the one dearest to her needs me the most? This is something I could never bring myself to do. Instead, I would rise above revenge, my problems, and my abusers. With that in mind, I exited the bathroom.
When my uncle had moved in a few months ago, it was a difficult transition from a house of two to a house of five when he brought his son and nephew with him. It had gotten progressively worse as time went on. Arguments, neglect, emotional abuse – these things made an appearance more and more consistently, to the point where my mother and I avoided returning to the house we lived in for eleven years until late evening hours. Still, I never expected to find myself in my bathroom contemplating suicide.
My uncle had probably been the closest to a father she had ever gotten, though his living on the other side of the world majority of the year hid many of his shortcomings and the dark part of his personality. Yet my mother had always described him to be an upstanding, responsible man, who sacrificed much to care for his siblings when they were growing up. His was the model to strive after.
And one fated encounter brought me to the road towards freedom. The road shook and the pedestal he was placed upon crashed to the ground, and it was shattered in the blink of an eye.
One morning, my uncle and his family waited in the living room for my mother and I as I left for school. With a video camera. An ambush. He advanced upon me, and fearing for my safety, my mother pulled him away. He grabbed us both, threw us down, and pretended to be assaulted to pose for his camera.
And all of this… over a phone bill.
A sudden strike against my cheek, even I wasn’t sure it would ever come to that. The endless war was ending soon. A restraining order was placed, and a fragile, temporary peace descended upon my mother and I.
Amongst the chaos and confusion, I was growing up too quickly. An outstretched arm reached toward us in peace and offered me the ability to be a teenager. Out of love and grace, my best friend’s family brought us to a church, filled with believers who spoke my mother’s language, lessening the burden that fell on my shoulders.
In the courtroom, what I least expected to see was mercy, especially coming from the wounded. After hearing that this man could ultimately lose his visa and be sent back overseas, my mother chose to drop the charges because the crimson in their veins runs thick with the same blood.
A picture of the Gospel.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my steps had been guided down the path to freedom from the moment I chose to listen to that second voice.
Don’t do it.
Thinking of it now, I realized just how much I would have lost had I listened to the first. Instead, I was led down freedom’s path, a road not frequently traveled – though well-paved and well-tended – by a mysterious voice, powerful enough to calm the crashing emotions on the shore of my heart, yet gentle like the sun drifting to sleep beneath the horizon.
He called to me again. Many times. Interspersed between the whispers of the velvet night, His voice could be heard echoing in the depths of my soul. And as I followed the path my uncle had opened for me, I found Him: the Man who commands the voice, seated in humble majesty, a lazy smile crawling across his simple face.
“You’re finally here.”
I dropped to the earth, knees caressed by the gentle brush of the grass, and folded into herself, tears cascading down my face, heart pounding erratically against the steel bars of the cage erected around it, begging desperately for release.
He continued to call to me; I continued to cry. I knew that to follow Him would cost me everything. The face of my mother flashed across her mind. How would I tell her? Then the face of my late grandmother, humbly knelt in front of the family’s idols bent over and praying the sutras off the page. What would it mean to be eternally separated from her?
“It’s your choice.”
Again, an extended hand. I placed mine in the flat palm of the warm hand, calloused by labor, scarred by nails, and I found freedom in His embrace. I belonged to Him, thanks in part to my uncle.
My uncle: the man who bestowed the second character of my name, meaning “the appearance or bearing of.”
The first burning of my nest, the first rebirth: complete.
Image Credit: flickr / JAIRO_BD