In Silence

I’m putting doors onto each new vehicle on the assembly line under oppressive fluorescent light. A complex mechanism involving suction cups and hydraulic suspension became organic. I bolt them down and under the required 90 seconds to secure a firm attachment and get a green light from the computer. I’m just a cog in the machine, and I like it this way.

I worked in psych wards for the severely abused, in rehabs, in the suicide wards for the suicidal. Our custody battle and divorce proceedings had been dragging on for months and I was in a new state in a new city, not knowing anyone and living with my parents. My ex lived in our house with her boyfriend and I was paying rent just so that my kids wouldn’t be homeless. She was behaving erratic and making dangerous decisions. I had filed an emergency custody hearing though I had the kids on the weekends. I was grieving every time I gave them back to this strange new man who moved in. The courts were dragging their feet. Having worked in healthcare for my entire adult life, I was now a factory worker.

When you care for the needy and the broken, you have to know your limits. Failure to be self-aware can lead to major mistakes and misjudgments. I’ve seen it happen way too often and was not about to be a statistic. I also needed some time. My mind was a hot chaotic noisy mess. I wanted to work my hands at a job that didn’t require anything else more than that.

It was at this precise point of boredom and desperation that I began to retreat from survival mode into something more. Though life a mess, and my heart disheveled and unorganized, I could feel God knocking at the door. Not sure if it was the physical exhaustion, but in an almost complete state of apathy I uttered these words on the assembly line; “ Lord, teach me to pray.”

Immediately had a vision. I’m in a room with an oppressive unyielding light beating down on me. Handcuffed to a bed but laying on the floor next to it. I was bawling my eyes out; full of fear and terror. Much to my surprise, I was a young woman. I could feel everything she was feeling. I have never felt such a deep feeling of dread and terror come over me in my life. Though it lasted for only a second, it was so palpable and powerful it moved me to tears on the assembly line. I wipe the water from my eyes feeling self-conscious.

Full of self-doubt I wonder if this is some sort of psychological subterfuge. I wonder what in the hell is wrong with me and try to shrug it off. The whole day passes, and I can’t. It hangs over me like an ax in the sky. I get back to my parent’s couch exhausted. Filthy and ready to get a shower and go to bed. My parents are harassing me to go to church, but even though I’m sure it’s probably for the best, I just want to sleep. Despite it all, I cave and acquiesce.

The sermon is long and boring, and I am falling asleep in my seat when something unusual happens. I’ve never known my parent’s church to break with tradition, yet here we are pairing off into small prayer groups. I’m next to my mother and her friend Janette who is a missionary in New York City half of the year and a therapist.

Half wondering if she can hint at a diagnosis, and half curious about the vision, I sheepishly retell the story of the girl I saw to the both of them. I feel like a crazy person as their eyes stare back at me. My life upended, sleeping on my parent’s couch, completely new to this state and town- and despite having been an atheist for the last 15 years- I marvel that here I am explaining some vision I had about a rape victim on the assembly line at the car factory. Yet neither of them seem to think this was something to scoff at. We huddled together, arms around one another, we pray for this young woman. Janette prays the FBI, the police, or a neighbor would hear this young woman’s cry and save her. She prays the man responsible id brought to justice that night. That he would never get out.

At work the next day, I am full of self-doubt and introspection. Wondering if this was all just some strange gamble. Wondering if I threw away my life over this silly God nonsense. Wondering if I needed serious counseling. Nonetheless, I put in a hard day’s work, I am ready to come ‘home.’ When I get there my mother immediately comes over to my couch, asks me if I had seen the local news.

She tells me a young girl in our town had been locked up in a shed behind a man’s house. How the neighbors had heard her crying and called the police. When the police arrived they arrested the man. How the FBI came out. Multiple bodies were excavated from his yard. He was a serial killer. The girl was returned promptly to her family. I just stood there speechless.

I went hiking that next weekend. About two and a half hours in I found myself at the precipice on a bald rock mountaintop. I can see for miles. I see the skyline of downtown from here. A clear day and the conditions were right. I see His concern for the girl who was locked in the shed behind the house. It’s here I heard God’s voice again saying how my life is only a small part of a much larger picture. How he sees everything. I feel the vastness of sheer existence, I sense the wonder of God’s concern for my tiny little life as well. I feel a deep sense of peace come over me; knowing that all of this is bigger than me.

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