Fly This Whole Mess Into The Sea
"Cause I Know I got this side of me thatWants to grab the yoke from the pilot and just Fly the whole mess into the sea."
I'm changing freeways, driving up on a bridge that wraps around connecting the carpool lane from one freeway to the carpool lane of another. The road stretches in front of me turning away to the right.
...and I feel the urge to ignore the turn and plunge straight ahead and off the overpass.
A deep urge. I want to do it. In a daze I can picture doing it.
It's not that I really want to die. I don't really want my life to end. It's not that I feel particularly depressed. I've been depressed before - I know what it feels like. I don't feel particularly sad or frustrated.
In fact we've had a really good week. Last Tuesday our pastor from Seattle flew out and we had a deeply encouraging and healing time with him. We talked, we laughed we prayed, we shared communion. He brought cards and messages, prayers and love, from the whole community. He brought gifts for the kids. And he brought an abundantly generous sum of money from the community for Bryan's treatment.
I was reminded of the verse in 2 Corinthians "...their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own..."
Our church did just that for us. It is not a rich church, it's not a big church, but its a responsive church. A church that hears a need and prayerfully meets it. A church that loves people. And we were so encouraged by their love.
And then on Sunday we celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. The kids stayed at my sister's for the whole day and Bryan and I had the best day together. It was perfect and full of hope and dreams.
On Monday I got to spend a good deal of time talking with a beloved friend in Prague and celebrating the baby that is growing in her womb. Then that evening I got to see a much loved movie with Bryan and a very dear friend from High School.
It's been a good week. Full of enjoyable moments.
For the most part I have felt hopeful. In fact I've even been fairly convinced that Bryan's next PET scan will come back with very good results.
We had a bit of a blow this week when we learned that the woman who has been at the clinic with Bryan got a bad PET scan result. She left the clinic to go home with little hope. My heart hurts for them. Deeply.
But today I have felt hopeful, even relaxed. I've been looking forward to trying out the young adults group at my parents church and to my aunt coming to visit this week. I didn't feel particularly down.
Tired, sure. A bit foggy, yes. But, down and depressed, no.
And then the urge hit. I wanted to send that car speeding over the edge and through the air. It was so strong I started to shake. My breathing grew heavy.
"If you do that your life will end." I kept reminding myself of that, because somehow I felt disconnected from that reality. Despite the struggles we face I like my life. I don't want it to end. But I wanted to crash over the side. Why?
Part of me said that it was just cause I wanted to feel it. I could picture it and I wanted to feel what it would feel like.
But another part of me kept whispering these words from an old Shins song:
"Cause I Know I got this side of me that Wants to grab the yoke from the pilot and just Fly the whole mess into the sea."
And I knew that was really what this longing was about.
I wanted to grab the wheel and for one brief moment be completely in control. Wanted the power and control to not follow the lines, to force my own destiny even if the only destiny I can force is a horrible death. I wanted... not to die, but to push against the unknown. To control.
I used to live under the illusion that I was in control of my life, that I could intentionally determine my days. I know better now.
I recently read C.S. Lewis Through the Shadowlands and was struck by the words Lewis wrote to a friend: "Of course, the sword of Damocles still hangs over us; or should I say, we are forced to be aware of the sword which really hangs over all mortals?"
The sword of Damocles, the mythical sword which was suspended by nothing more than a human hair.
There is really so little we can control in this life. Much happens by choices we or others make, but even more happens by chance, fate, or God's providence (what you call it depends of course on your view of the world).
At that moment, driving over that bridge I felt caught in a net I couldn't escape from, felt like my life was not my own, like I had no control. Like the sword of Damocles was hanging over me and those I loved and for a moment I was temped to snap the hair rather than wait for it to fall.
As I pushed my foot into the gas pedal and watched as the speedometer rose I felt the power of the heavy vehicle I controlled and I wanted to enjoy that control if even for a moment. I wanted to feel even more powerful and more in control and something whispered, "then drive it off the edge."
Even after I was safely off the bridge, safely off the freeway, the urge still came on me like waves. Just crash. Just plow into the car in front of you.
My car was too quiet even with music playing. The annoying urge too loud.
I needed distraction. I called Bryan. "I need you to talk to me."
I got where I was going and sat there for a long time. My body shaking. Feeling as if I should cry, as if crying would somehow help, but not being able to quite get the tears to come. But, mostly feeling sort of numb.
I guess even with all the positive moments and encouragement lately I'm not doing as well as I thought I was.
As I sat in the parking lot I couldn't help but think of Jesus' temptation in the desert. Satan takes him to the highest point in the temple. Standing looking out over Jerusalem, high above it all, did he whisper or did he shout? Did he beg or did Jesus just feel a deep longing, an urge?
"Throw yourself down."
Did Jesus feel the weight of Damocles sword hanging over his head? Did he ever resent submitting to the Father's will?
In that moment, as he stood looking out over the edge did he long to seize control, to take the wheel and feel powerful? Was his temptation two fold? Jump and prove yourselves powerful by commanding the angels to catch you, seize control by taking a more recognized and notorious path. Or jump and allow yourself to fall peacefully to your death - jump and choose a better death than the one you know awaits you.
Jump and take control.
Today as I drove that same road to take my son to school the temptation was gone. I have made my choice, I know who pilots my life. And it's ok that it's not me. I will not grab the wheel. I will submit to God's control. Whatever comes.
Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany