I’m choking on phlegm, and the uncommon edge on the morning air tells me that winter isn’t as kind to my throat as I had hoped. The curtain is still drawn, and I think it must be past 8 o’clock for the thin line of sunshine on the wall beside it. I’m smothered by memories too long suppressed, and for the first time, I’m listening to my own thoughts confessing: I really do miss America… not just Hawaii or family there… but the USA, too. My head is spinning because I am so exhausted and it’s here among all of this that I hear the words…

You are faithful. 

God, no. I’m ready to give up. I’m four and a half months away from the finish line but I’m at the end of my strength. IB profen tablets are friendly and so are BBC romantic dramas but they can only numb the pain so much, they can only delay the despair I feel, one week away from a holidays that I doubt hold any rest.

Well, maybe the fact that I’m popping those little white plastic packets and yelling my frustrations to the computer screen due the the plot line in Wives and Daughters helps me realize how not well I feel. And maybe in all their numbing… well, maybe they help feel, too. 

All of this– all of this discouragement and damaged lungs– and you’re calling me faithful? I don’t know if you know what you’re talking about. You say there’s beauty in the vulnerability and I don’t know why you say such things, why you covet such brokenness, why you accept the broken and contrite heart over any other sacrifice.

“You are faithful.”

Isn’t it my performance? Isn’t it everyone’s good opinion I have to live up to all the time? Isn’t it their good pleasure that will keep me going? Oh, that’s what I’ve told myself too long. Accepting the lies that get inserted in my head just like those cheap advertising circulars clogging up our mailbox on weekdays. They have the power to give you your place… you have to please them… you have to perform… and all the while polishing my outside because I can’t bear to face the inadequacy I fear is found inside. 

Driven by fear that my backstage ineptitude will be exposed, I strive to make my on-stage performance slicker and smoother– and in the process, make it less and less likely that my students will learn anything other than how to cover up and show off.  (Palmer, The Courage to Teach, p. 30)

Slicker and smoother. Happy and “carefree”. I smile the saccharine-sweet smile or just get so busy that I don’t notice the crumbling floorboards of backstage, oh deeper foundations of my heart. I doubt my ability to persevere more than ever.

And it’s here he whispers,

You are faithful. 

I try to pretend I don’t know what He means, but I never was too good at keeping up a farce for too long. I try to think He’s not telling me that I’m amazing, that I have the ability to carry on, I’m trying to hug shame– but even shame itself is pushing me back, saying, “What are you doing? You belong to Him!” and oh, don’t I know it. I know it to my deepest core. 

I belong to Him. 

And He knows it, too,
that’s why that when I’m wondering why on earth I spent three hours watching a painful long-sacrifice BBC romance found in Wives and Daughters 
and it’s there God reminds me of a girl named Molly
who was faithful, faithful to the end of the story.

The phlegm doesn’t coat my throat as much on this night, the heater taking the edge off the winter evening air. Yet eyelids droop as fingers type, oh, here is my medal of brokenness- will you take it? Here on your computer screen? Here on the stretched plane of our over-informed world of social media? Social chattering, chattering, chattering– but it’s in the quiet I hear the words I want to hear.

You are faithful. 

Which makes me aware of one simple truth,

He is faithful, too. 

Therefore, we will get through.