But it wasn't until recently, when someone sent me a thought piece inspired by Higher Ground, that I realized there was a whole other pool of people who had something to say---my fellow POstables. So, inspired by the courage of a few, I've decided to start "Living Letters" a category dedicated to those who dared to share how SSD has impacted their lives, taught them something about God and being a person of faith, or simply held up a mirror to their own humanity.
My thanks to Amy, who unintentionally sparked the idea, and had the courage to boldly use her platform. This story is hers.
Lately, though, He has spoken to me through the words of Martha Williamson; who would probably also argue, that the words aren’t hers at all. I have been watching her series Signed, Sealed, Delivered for a few years now.
Fans of the show know and love Oliver O‘Toole as well as the other characters played. Oliver, is a word-smith. He is brilliant. He has a strong faith that pushes people to be the best version of who they are. That same faith pushes people to believe in something bigger than the things of this Earth. He dresses impeccably, and has an unnatural love for drinking Yoo-hoos. He is the guy that is in charge, and he fixes stuff. He can be annoying at times and often says complex almost annoying yet filled with a "what did he just say?" statements that leaves me rewinding my remote. A lot.
He had a failed marriage, one that his loyalty mandated that he fight to the bitter end. He had a mom who abandoned him. He finds out late in life that the father he thought was his wasn’t, in fact, his father at all. He felt betrayed by that information, and that might be one of the first times we see the crack in his armor when he decides to love the man who raised him, the man he simply knew as “Dad.”
We watched his world get rocked by everything opposite of him in Shane. Not unfamiliar with pain herself--having also experienced abandonment--Shane deals with her pain in a different way, also relying on abilities and wit to get through the day (and maybe a kombucha by day; a martini by night). We watched as Shane wanted nothing to do with the words of Mr. O’Toole. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him period, but the heart wants what the heart wants and both find themselves lost in their own wilderness and seeking higher ground.
The night of the premiere Higher Ground, we could feel the electricity cross state borders, country boarders, countless generations as the hours, literally, crept by before 9PM finally arrived.
This movie was the follow up to Lost Without You where we find Oliver, literally, lost in a wilderness with his dad and Shane lost without Oliver, and, well lost in general. All of her defense mechanisms are shredded; we find her bargaining for the return of Oliver, because she literally, was lost without him. One line got me in that movie. When Shane was told to pray she said, "I don't know how to pray". All I could think was: “Neither do I Shane, neither do I.”
Circumstances force Oliver & Shane’s physical separation and we see Oliver completely fall apart. His work space is messy, he paces the DLO (Dead Letter Office), and he moves her desk because he can't bear to see it. He fixes her porch swing, prunes her roses, and checks on her house. But, as time goes by he becomes angry that she has not returned. He is no stranger to abandonment. As the film continues, pain unravels him in a way we have never seen from this character. I was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable.
Pain is weird. When it's there and you know it's there you either deal with it, or if you are like Oliver, Shane or ME you throw everything else out there to just not have to feel it, or deal with it. We all use different things--for me, it’s is humor, my work, my passion for football or my desire to help others. But suddenly I felt the need to grab an oxygen mask for myself first; and I think Oliver felt the same way. There wasn’t a way to help anybody else until he dealt with all of that pain.
The camera pans in and his eyes begin to fill with tears, and so did mine. He is past his ability to throw blocks for what has hurt him; he is feeling pain, joy and hope now. All of it is out of control; all of it messy; and Oliver simply finds himself in unfamiliar territory. He simply says the six words “I don’t know what to do”.
My brain could have picked any number of painful things at that moment, but the unresolved pain jumping up and down for me was the death of the last of my abusers a year ago. When I received that phone call, I realized that I didn't have to worry about my safety anymore. And the truth sat on my chest. “I don’t know what to do.” And so I threw out my own version of Shakespeare, plaid suits and Yoo-hoos.
Oliver stares off past the camera and into my heart, the one guarded, the one that has learned to avoid pain; and those words absolutely destroyed me.
I have watched Higher Ground over and over the past month. I pause at this place, where Oliver finally just gives up and asks for help. And each time I watch it, I realize that Oliver asked for help, and, like him, I am not used to asking for help. It is then I realize I am in good company.
I don’t know where I go from here; but my life has been saved in every arena you can imagine. And for the first time ever, it’s ok to say to the world and to God “I don’t know what to do”. Because in admitting that, I surrender to the One Who does. And I marvel in His favor over my life and the people He has decided to put in it.
It was on that night of the premiere that I realized that I have added arsenal to how God and I communicate. It may seem silly to some, but this project of Martha Williamson so often brings me to a place where God and I can chat. It has, on more than one occasion, forced me to slide down a wall and cry. The difference this time is that I realize that the tears that fall on the floor don’t feel wasted. This time I lift my head and crave more. Words played out in a fictional TV show push me to find a sweet place of fellowship with Jesus and I find that in many ways, including an amazing group of friends that share my love for this show.
And I realize, that words are more than language. Words, when we allow them, are His—because sometimes we need words of a human artist to push us to the words of the only one Who does know what to do when we don’t.
Amy is a Florida gal with an intense love for the Jaguars, and the people she holds dear. You can read more from Amy over at her blog, Blindsided By Healing.