Death can take on many forms. It can be phsyical, emotional, spiritual, or even relational. Death, although seemly daunting, is a necessary element for growth.
I went back to my home away from home NYC this past week. Of course, as always, I went back with the notion that I was going to have one revelation and one revelation only (as if Haiti wasn't lesson in that enough!). I was nervous at first...how would I feel going back after so long? Would I feel out of place? Would I want to move back? Would I absolutely hate it? Would my old friends and I have grown apart. Would the memories be too painful? Or would I end up wanting to stay and cancel my return flight home? I even went so far as to tell my friend who graciously drove me to the airport at 5 in the morning that I didn't even feel like going....the 6 hour delay that followed changed my mind of course!
When we finally boarded the flight to LaGaurdia, I discovered in-flight Worship music on XM! So, I decided to use that time to for Worship and prayer and preparation of the experience that lay ahead. My apologies to the flight attendants trying to get my attention for a drink :) When we finally were close to landing, there out of the grey sky of the rainy November afternoon, emerged that alabaster city. Only this time, I would actually set foot on its concrete for the first time in almost a year and a half. My heart raced...mostly because I forgot how it looks like you're going to land either in the Hudson or on someone's house.
The taxi couldn't get to my friend's apartment in Chelsea fast enough! When we finally arrived, I hurried down the street with my luggage, ran up to the stoop, rang the B5 buzzer, and practically plowed my way through the doors! As I spotted my dear friend for the first time in what seemed like ages, I couldn't even move. In fact, she actually had to walk down the hall to get the luggage I had dropped, in my excited jumping up and down and "Oh, my gosh!'es". Once inside her apartment, we drank tea and chatted for a bit before heading out to lunch. As we walked down the street, I didn't want to look up. I didn't want to let it in for the fear of the emotion that might follow. Although, a strange feeling was beginning...a new sense of empowerment, still tinged by the oppression that had been a daily theme in my New York life. What was this weird feeling?
We walked around for a bit, met for dinner with another old friend, and ended up in Union Square..and then it happened...I looked up.
I looked up with the same sense of wonder that I had experienced that first day back in 2004. This spot where in my New York Life I had spent so much of my free time, met up with friends, etc. I saw the sparkling buildings that I had walked by so many times. We sat down and then the flood came. At first I didn't realize why I was crying and then it hit me...so many things at once! I realized that it was over! All the heartache! All the struggle! I realized I was grieving to lay to rest the old life so full of heartache and despair that had brought death to my soul. I grieved to celebrate because I realized that God has redeemed and restored every one of those broken parts of my life in such a short amount of time. No longer do I live with that overbearing sense of oppression and mind numbing stress! I cried because I realized I could love this city again. I grieved the death of a dream created so long ago that had turned so ugly...and then realized that dream was not dead, but had reincarnated itself. I realized my dream had come true! I had dreamed of becoming a singer and then I look at my friend and realized that I am! It doesn't look like how I thought it would, and it didn't turn out how I thought I wanted it to, but isn't that always the way? You think you know exactly what you want and then God gently taps you on the shoulder and whispers, "no, it's over here". I realized that if ever a time came where God would call me back to this city, it would be completely different and I would live here in Victory. New Yorker's call it "putting on your armor"....and SO DOES HIS KINGDOM.
As I we stood up, I felt it all fall away. The pain of my old life NY that I had been carrying for so long was laid to rest that night in Union Square...and I fell in love with New York again...:) I was finally FREE!!! This beautiful city, where you can be anything or anyone you want to be and do anything you want to do. For all it's faults, I had done it, I had moved here, worked my butt off, fought, struggled, and made it work for 5 years. And then when it was over, I chose to come home...and I didn't have to. I could have stayed if I wanted to. I could have let myself die a little more each day and become something I did not want to be. But I chose to let God heal my spirit instead. Knowing that if I wanted to move forward, I must first go back.
I watched my friend go through her own death and reincarnation this week. As my friend grieves the recent death of her marriage, an ugly monster reares its head. Whatever was salvagable in once loving marriage has reincarnated itself in the form of a disease which fights to take her life everyday. I had talked to her about this many times over the past year, but this was the first time I had witnessed it firsthand. I saw her struggle and battle this disease to save her own life and could only stand by helplessly. This is a demon that cannot be fought by medication alone. This is a demon that she must love herself enough to fight to save her life and her soul. It's hard to watch a friend that you love go through something that you are powerless to stop. This was not the friend so full of life that I remembered.
So, I shared what I could and prayed over her and with her. She came to my old church with me for WeWo (that's David-speak for Wednesday night Worship!). The irony is that not 2 minutes after the service was over, she received a nasty email from her soon-to-be ex-husband, which she later declared that being in church had actually helped to prepare her for that message and soften the blow.
She and I had shared this theme of death and reincarnation within ourselves and together this past week. Hmmm...coincidence? I think not. God's plans are perfect!
This week for the first time, I was able to enjoy myself in that big city. I felt peace and empowerment. I was able to walk through that city with my head held high and share with my friends what God has been doing in my life. I pray that that in itself is a testimony.
I thought my life in NY was over, but as the week progressed I realized that this is not a period, but a continuation. I don't know what lays ahead, but I do that God has been giving me unique experiences lately to study and learn from. All I can say is, "Hallelujah"!!! I am ready...