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While I was in college, I struggled a lot with self-worth. All of my close friends were dating and/or engaged, and I hadn’t been so much as asked out. I had been rejected several times, and most of my crushes actively avoided me after I made my feelings known. Meanwhile, my friends were wrapped up in their own romances, busy ditching me to gaze lovingly in each other’s eyes. Our college stresses dating and marriage as much as good grades, and my home church compounded the issue by all the elder women asking me “Do you have a boyfriend yet?” In hindsight, it’s actually amusing how they never asked me about my grades. It was a lot of stress to deal with.

I have since come to terms with my perpetual singleness, but during those dark days in college, I tried to cope with this depression the only way I knew how: putting it in a story. I tried to show what I was dealing with mentally by telling the story with a lot of symbolism, which probably makes it hard to understand. I also wanted to warn readers that the following story cites scripture from the King James translation of the Bible. If that offends you, feel free to go to another blog site. Otherwise, enjoy the story!

“The Abyss”

Where am I? Everything is so dark. Is this a forest? Only a bitter blue light glows through the trees, barely making it across the empty branches of dying trees. It is so sad! The sadness rolls on me with a cold fog. The chill and damp seeps through my thin clothes, and I rub my scrawny arms with tiny hands, trying to gain some semblance of warmth. I’m so cold! Am I all alone here in this awful place? No—no, I’m not alone. There are voices.

You’re like one of those crazy old ladies with a thousand cats!

The voice is derisive, and familiar. A friend? I stumble back and trip over a protruding root. Something slimy is on the ground, and it quickly oozes around my fingers, burying itself under my fingernails.

One of my friends came up to me yesterday and asked if I knew you. When I said ‘Yeah, I know her,’ she said, ‘She’s really creepy.’

Laughter was heavy in my other “friend’s” voice. I put my hand back, and wince as my hand lands in a pile of dead holly leaves. The filthy ooze coats them, though they are dried and brown, and their leaves still bite into my flesh. I pick up my hand and look at it. The spiny leaves are imbedded in my palm. It hurts.

It takes courage to be friends with her. She’s so weird!

An angry hornet flies out of the leaf pile and sees me. It flies right to my arm and plunges its stinger not once, but three times into my skin. I cry out and squish the vengeful bug, feeling the crunch of its body and the congealed mass of bug guts on my hand and arm. The hornet’s body pricks at my skin, taking its revenge after death. The stings are burning. I climb to my feet and pull the prickly leaves from my palm.

I’ll sit anywhere you want, except with her. The only reason her “friends” sit with her is because they feel sorry for her.

I stub my toe hard on the rough bark of a hickory root. I fall back down and look at my throbbing appendage. My toe starts bleeding, and the nail falls off. I grab a piece of my sleeve and tear it from my shirt. I wrap the dirty cloth around my toe. It’s tender to the touch, and I groan at the pain.

Do you think you’re a cow?

That’s my sister’s voice. It’s filled with the kind of scorn that only she can throw at me. I close my eyes, shutting out what little light there is. I can’t help thinking, Does no one like me? An ant crawls out of a nearby tree and bites at me experimentally. I barely notice the many insignificant stings. Then it starts to rain.

Someone would have to love you because of your personality. You’re really not pretty enough for someone to love you otherwise.

Now my brother’s voice; it’s compassionate and apologetic, which almost makes it worse than my sister’s. The ground beneath me sags, becoming a pit of quicksand in the pouring rain.

Look, uh, I don’t feel the same way about you as you do for me.

I have sunk into the ground up to my calf.

Why don’t you go sit over there with them?

I feel the mud crawl up my thighs. The cold seeps into the marrow of my bones, and I know that I will never be warm again.

You stupid pig!

I grab onto the roots of the tree, feeling its sharp bark biting into my flesh. The mud is quickly rising up past my stomach. The rain is coming down harder and faster now. My hair is plastered to my face, the water pulls the dirt from my hair into my eyes and mouth. The mud is past my chest now.

Why am I talking about something intelligent with you?

I close my eyes and let go of the root. The mud crawls up my neck and across my cheeks. My last thought before the mud completely envelopes me is: Whatever is down there will be better than what’s up here. I’m wrong.

I am falling, falling free of the slime and mud and filth. I am falling into a void. There is no light. There is no warmth. There are no voices. There is nothing but nothingness itself. I land, but the landing is painless. Everything is painless. I’m not cold, and I’m not warm. I just am. No feeling can live in the abyss that I have fallen into, and no one cares enough to pull me out. I curl into a tight ball, trying to take some comfort in my own life. There is no comfort to be had. I am alone with the sinking stomach that comes with dejection, and I can’t even cry. I am tired, oh so tired! I close my eyes again, but the world is so dark that I can’t tell that I have.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.[1]

Another voice? I don’t recognize this one. It’s kind and genuinely concerned. I open my eyes, but the world is still dark.

The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.[2]

I sit up and look around. “Who’s there?”

A light flashes in the darkness, and a small, glowing ball flies in front of me. I think I can feel warmth emanating from it, and I hear the echoes of laughter, of love. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.[3] Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.[4] The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee.[5]

I press myself into the corner. I know this voice now, and I feel ashamed. “Why should you care about me? It’s been so long since I’ve cared about you.”

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.[6]

I bury my face in my hands. “I’m not worth it. I’m ugly, and creepy, and nobody likes me.”

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? [7]

“But I don’t deserve it. I don’t do anything for you like I should.”

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.[8]

I pull my head out of my hands and look at the light. It is beautiful and peaceful. There is happiness inside it, waiting for me, just for me. I want to be happy again. I want to feel and be loved. I barely dare to hope that He will take me back. “Can I come back? Can I be happy again?”

The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.[9]

I reach out and touch the light. Its warmth envelopes me and chases the cold from my bones. I blink and look around. I’m not in the abyss anymore! I’m standing in a green field, filled with wildflowers of all colors. The sunlight kisses my forehead, and the warm breeze caresses my cheeks. My clothes are clean, white, thick and warm. I feel strength in my arms again. There are voices here, too, but they’re full of friendship and love.

You look awesome today!

It is a friend’s voice, serious and cheerful. A flower grows at my feet, opening to release the fresh scent of spring.

You probably get this a lot, but you have beautiful eyes.

That is the forgotten words of a stranger. A pair of bluebirds fly toward me, circling me, all the time singing a happy tune.

How could anyone hate you?

Another friend, his voice filled with disbelief. A beautiful luna moth flutters over to me and lands on my nose. It tickles, and I have to laugh. The moth floats off my nose and flits away.

You’re the best friend I’ve ever had!

Her voice is a contented sigh, without any hidden motives or pity. A rainbow arcs through the sky, without the aid of any rain. The colors fairly sparkle.

I told her that you’re the sweetest person she’d ever meet!

My friend is laughing at another’s misconception as she relates how she defended me. I laugh and dance among the flowers. I like it here. Here there is happiness and warmth and light. Here there is love. This place is good.

“Thank you!” I call to the skies, as I twirl in the warm sunlight. “You are a great and mighty God! I will never leave you again!”

 

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11

[1] Psalm 42:11

[2] Psalm 25:17

[3] Revelation 1:8

[4] John 14:1

[5] Deuteronomy 7:7, 13

[6] Psalm 34:18

[7] Romans 9:20, 21

[8] Ephesians 2:2,4

[9] Psalm 34:22

The End