“6So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud. 10The King commanded Ebed-Melech the Cushite, “Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies. 11So, Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12Ebed-Melech the Cushite said to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.” Jeremiah did so 13 and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.” ~Jeremiah 38:6; 10-13
This week has been filled with emotions. Lots and lots of emotions, but the odd thing is…I still can’t feel them. It is so weird! I go through the motion of using the appropriate responses to certain emotions, but I can’t feel them on the inside. I am both thankful and upset by this situation. Here’s why:
Seven months ago I found myself sitting at the bottom of my own cistern (or well). I looked up the tall walls and saw the blue sky above me, but I had no way out. Being covered in the mud and gunk that grief covers you with, my hands and feet were too slippery to grab a hold of anything. Each time I tried to climb out, I fell right back down.
I kept sitting there hoping and praying that someone…anyone would help me out of that cold, dark pit. Then one day, out of nowhere came this man. He saw me at the bottom of the pit and even though he didn’t know me; he rescued me. He was from a different place (just like Ebed-Melech). He didn’t know how I got in the cistern, but he saw me sitting there at the bottom and he made the decision to give me what I needed in order to get out.
I didn’t know who Bo Gray was at the time; all I knew was that I desperately wanted out of that well and he was there offering to help. Over the past seven months he has pulled and pulled on the ropes. He joined forces with my family and closest friends and he pulled with all of his might.
On Tuesday, I walked out of the well.
When I stood up and looked around me, all I could see were the faces of those I loved the most standing next to me. Each one had put their hands on the rope and pulled with him. I couldn’t help but notice the blisters on each one of their hands. The pulling lasted longer than they thought it would. The job was harder than they imagined. There were times when they had to step back and take a break from pulling, because it was just too hard. Some of them came back. Some of them gave up. Some of them tried to set the rope on fire. But, not Bo.
He kept pulling and encouraging and showing me the way out of the darkness. His kindness and gentleness were a steady presence even when I slipped back down and the pulling had to start over again. He coaxed me to keep trying, to focus on what was just ahead of me. He warned me not to look to far ahead, but to focus on each brick as I climbed up and be thankful when it was finally behind me. He defended me from the ones who wanted to see me fail and he dared them to try to harm me again.
When I reached the top of the hole this week, I touched the grass…and felt the wind…and saw the people still standing there holding the rope. I looked them in the eye and told them, “Thank You”. I never would have gotten out without their help, but they couldn’t have gotten me out without Bo’s decision to gather the rags and worn-out clothes to pad my arms under the rope. See, He saw the big picture. He knew that just a rope would eventually cut my arms too deep and I wouldn’t be able to make it out. So, he gave me what I needed in order to reach the top.
When I stood up on Tuesday, I realized that I could never thank everyone enough for helping me make it out. And, I looked into Bo’s eyes and saw something that I knew I couldn’t give back. This fight had been too hard. And, the wounds that I have inside my body are still too deep.
So, after all of these months of working together to get where we needed to be we decided that for now at least; our job is done. We have stuck together and given each other the courage we both needed to be able to face the future and our pasts. Bo has now headed back to his foreign land where his home and family are waiting for him. He has responsibilities and things that only he can handle in that land. He is needed, because his job here is finished. He pulled me out and set me free.
Me? Well, I am standing on the edge of the well looking back on how far I have just climbed. I’m examining my wounds and dusting myself off. I’m looking around at who is left. The people who didn’t leave, get tired, or give up. I’m realizing who walked away when I needed them the most.
I am also waking up to the fact that I need time to heal from the deep gashes that have appeared all over my body from my fight to the top. The deepest one is inside my chest where my heart used to be. I need my family and my girlfriends to help me dress those wounds. I need time to just rest and let God work inside of me. And, I need time to face the sadness that caused me to be at the bottom of the well in the first place.
Before we turned to walk away, Bo and I looked each other in the eye and knew we had no regrets. We had given it our best and he had helped me get to a place I never could have gotten to on my own. I don’t know how to say thank you for what he did. The only thing I can think of is to give him the honesty and respect he so greatly deserves. Men like him don’t come around often. His kindness, loyalty, gentleness, laughter, and determination gave me what I needed to keep going when all I wanted to do was give up.
I don’t know if our paths will cross again one day. We are both on long, lonely roads that only we can travel…and we have to travel them alone. Are we walking parallel to one another? Are we headed in the same direction? Are we going as far as the east from the west away from one another? I honestly don’t know the answer to that…only time will tell.
Right now I’m sitting here nursing my wounds and thanking God for sending someone into my life who wasn’t afraid to help me out of the cistern. I can only hope and pray that he feels like his efforts were worth it. I know that one day, he will be rewarded for doing what was right when it seemed like the whole world was trying to make him give up.
When you pray, please pray for Bo. Pray for God to open the doors that need to be opened for him and pray for peace to invade his life. I am. Also, thank God for sending him to me and my girls. We wouldn’t be where we are physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually without his help. This world needs more men like him and I pray that one day he will understand just how special and important he truly is in the lives of the people around him.
So, now I’m heading down the road of life alone…but not really alone. I have my two girls, my family, and my friends. I have a calling that I have to figure out and a life that I need to try to live. It’s not easy, but I know God has something in store for me if I listen and don’t give up. He gave me what I needed to get out of the cistern; He will give me what I need to move ahead now.
With a grateful heart and tear stained cheeks, I’m looking into the hills and preparing for whatever comes next…