Forcing herself to sleep through the night but barely getting any sleep from the 9 hours she invested into getting quality sleep, Tola woke up, fatigued, and familiar with the feeling. The cloud of heaviness was palpable. She was digging into the earth, begging to be buried. She had hidden from everything. Disappeared from Facebook, vanished from twitter, deactivated her email notifications, placed her phone permanently on silence, and avoided taking calls. She preferred to be contacted by text messages and chats, chiefly because they give her the power of attorney – the rights to respond at a convenient time or not. By “convenient time” she meant replying after taking time to prepare herself to make up her mind to read the messages. She recently stopped communicating with her soul-friend on the basis of a fundamental difference in ideologies where human rights are concerned. It hit her. It tore her apart, but she did not want to watch him metamorphose into the unimaginable. She desired to preserve the remnant of the person she knew.
Days had gone by with her struggling for sleep and appetite. This particular week was a struggle. She had lashed out at her loved ones in that all-too-familiar irrational anger, and hid from them. In return, they ostracised her after chastising her. In shame, she apologised but the embarrassment made her borrow her head under the ground some more. There is no where else to run to, no Facebook to deactivate, no notifications to silence; the coping mechanism is now to face the darkness she has been battling but unwilling to admit.
She pulled off her duvet and wondered why the bible app notification had not popped. God was not excluded from the people and things she hid from. God had always been a refuge even in trying times. They fight, they make up. Typically, the fights range from an hour to a day. However, two months ago, she felt so let down by Him and had a panic attack. She hid it from her family and friends but confided in two friends. The walls closed in on her. Her heart raced so fast, her heart pounded so forcefully, and her mind went blank as anxiety crippled her in the exam cubicle. The previous day it was hysteria. She cancelled the exam and returned home, feeling relieved and fresh. A heavy burden was lifted. The money and time she spent preparing did not matter to her at this point. She was thankful that she did not lose her mind. “It’s accumulated pressure from this year” she had told her friend who called her on her way back home “I have been greatly stressed this year “. She returned home to rest and take the exam a month later. Back in the exam hall, a different venue, she fought to keep it together. “You are all you have” she told herself as she faced the first segment and struggled to catch up. “I can do this”, she kept reassuring herself as her head pounded. Confident that she had flunked the first segment, she decided to take the optional ten minutes break and restrategise for the second lap. She excused herself for the bathroom, shut the door and looked into the mirror “You have to do this. You have to win this fight”, she fought some more with words as she put the woeful first lap behind her and went in for the second phase. It was not an easier lap. Her head pounded, fatigue set in, she struggled to keep her focus as time raced against her. She could not complete all the questions before time ran out. The result was instant; while she did not break the ceiling, she did not perform too poorly. With that, she signed out and left the hall for a walk in fall. The evening was beautiful. The golden sun glistened from the windscreens of polished vehicles. Beautiful red maple leaves added colour to yellow trees and evergreen fir trees. The air was fresh, nature was happy. A beautiful lady with a brunette hair rode past in a blood red Tesla model 3. “Whoosh! Sexy” she smiled at the car as though she understood car language.
She summoned courage to stay on the journey to make peace with God. The Bible app had the daily verse, a video recording of a non-judgemental preacher delivering a six minute sermon, a script that preached the topic in a different light, a prayer, some encouragement, and a place to request prayer.
“Request prayer?” she asked in her mind. The app afforded you options to request privately or share with friends. There was a column to put the issue. “Pain”. She deleted it faster than she typed it. She does not want a track record of her abyss. If she died, she did not want people finding it out and throwing a pity coffee chat. She did not want a record of it on the Internet. She dug into the app and saw some topics for people going through a challenge. She knew she must select “Anger”, but a second topic caught her attention “When God does not make sense”. “This must be a non-judgmental app”, she reassured herself in her mind that the pastors on the app are probably not the evangelicals who could fit as Christian terrorists. She erased the thoughts as she tried to focus on the devotional. Yet, she couldn’t assimilate what she read.
“God, I’m drifting away. Help me”
It was an agonising prayer. She pressed a button to activate the audio accessibility feature and have the app read the devotional to her again. She shut her eyes as tears streamed down uncontrollably. The cloud of heaviness blocked her mind. She could hear the app, but she could not assimilate. Truly, God is not making sense. A month ago, she was David in the 44th chapter of the Psalms, angry at God for failing to honour his words; here she is feeling like Jesus on the cross, feeling abandoned by a God you need.
“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani?” She laid in her agony, feeling lonely, ostracised, rejected, sinking, by God and family.