How Far Gone Is Too Far Gone? An Open Letter to the Prodigal I Forgot

Gosh. How long has it been? A little over three years, I think, since we last talked, and probably two years since the last time you crossed my mind. A little over seven years, I think, since I first started praying for you, and about four years since I stopped. And almost exactly five years since I plucked up the courage to be completely honest with you.

Until about two weeks ago, it never once occurred to me that you might think about and check in on me, although with me having a public platform, I suppose it’s easy enough for you to do. You said you were done and you seemed like you were done, and I guess I believed you more than I thought I did at the time, because in all of those searches of “Lydia Thomas blog” my analytics tell me have brought people to my blog, I never once thought it might be you.

I just … have not prayed for you or thought about you in years. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

I don’t say all that to make you feel small. I say it so you understand that for three years, I lived the pain. I cried myself to sleep over it more nights than I can count. I prayed, pleaded with God, and finally, railed at God in absolute rage. And I laid flat on my back, numb, until He extended a hand and pulled me up. And since then, it doesn’t hurt me anymore.

But I understand – I understand – it’s your turn now. I find myself both sorry for what you are experiencing right now, and not sorry at all. Sorry, because it’s got to hurt like hell, and not sorry at all, because you finally looked down.

You see, about six months after I plucked up the courage to be completely honest with you, I plucked up the courage to be completely honest with some other people who were involved as well. On the day I went to them, the preacher talked about how our society doesn’t like to feel pain and he brought up a medical condition called neuropathy, that is, a condition that causes people to lose their sense of feeling. In illustrating his the condition, I remember he said, “These people could be walking across a field of glass and be bleeding to death and not even know it.” And completely unbidden, a thought came to my mind, Unless someone tells them to look down.

And after that, when I would pray for you, I would ask God that you would just look down. I had a vision of myself standing on the edge of that field, pleading with you to turn around, and you laughed at me, because you were fine. “You’re bleeding!” I cried, but you laughed again. “If I was bleeding,” you said. “I would know it.” And as a last ditch effort, I pleaded, “Just look down.” Because if you would just look down, you would know you were bleeding out.

And I often tell people, that vision turned into a blog post, and then into an allegorical short story, and then into a novella. One of the hardest plot decisions I had to make was whether one of the characters who had spent most of the story in a forbidden field would look down or not, and what would happen when she did. Would she stay in the field or would she come out?

I’m not going to tell you what happened with her, but I want to tell you, what you’re experiencing right now? It means you’ve looked down, and you’re seeing everything is not good, you are not good. And now, you have a choice to make: keep pretending like nothing is wrong and press on or come out and begin the healing process.

And me? I’ve come back to the place where I was five years ago: the edge of the field. Why? I am here for you, no longer begging and pleading, but cheering. you. on. Because where you’ve been is not good enough for you, no matter how much you tell yourself it is. Because even though there’s not hope for this one thing you’ve been secretly been holding on to, there is hope for you. So I’m here to cheer you on, through every painstaking step out of the field, through everything you think you have to lose, through the cleansing of those old wounds, until you can say, “I’m good,” and it’s true.

“But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

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(Photo Credit: Three Rivers Deep)

 

 

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