Sunday, December 9, 2007

From There to Here

(If you've already read Kim's blog today you'll see something similar here. I was going to write this last night but got sidetracked with other things, and she beat me to the parallel life punch, as she often does.)

Quite often while I'm out running errands I have the radio in the van on. I have a tendency to flip back and forth between channels quite frequently, especially for a commercial break or if a song comes on I can't stand. There are lots of those on every station, so I'm flicking the "seek" button quite a bit. It's the only time I can listen to music or talk radio without being interrupted so I enjoy it.

While doing this yesterday I landed on the classic rock station at just the point of the broadcast where the DJ asked "...where were you on that day, and what were you doing? Do you remember it?" That caught my attention so I listened on. The station was having a memorial of sorts for John Lennon and was taking calls from folks who wanted to tell the story about where they were and how they reacted when they heard the news that he was dead. I hadn't thought about how long ago it's been, so I was a little surprised when the DJ mentioned that it was 27 years ago.

I wasn't about to call the radio station, but I did immediately remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.

I was the fill-in babysitter for a friend of mine and the mom called me that night. My friend was supposed to be babysitting but she was sick (or so she said) so the mom called me. My mom drove me across town and the parents left for wherever it was they were going for the night. Before long my "sick" friend called me at my babysitting job and wanted to come over. The truth was, she had a date with a boy she was just nuts about and didn't want to cancel it. I don't know why she lied about being sick, but she did and I got the job for the night. That was fine with me, my birthday was coming in a few days and that meant I'd have some money to spend. I told her that after the kids went to bed she could come over, since that was the rule with the parents and I didn't want to lose that job by breaking the rules. Good babysitting jobs were hard to find in those days.

So, after a while the kids were in bed and my friend arrived. With her date, and his friend. She forgot to mention that her date's friend was coming and that it happened to be a boy that I was nuts about myself, and had dated a couple of times. None of us would have guessed in a million years, that five years later that boy and I would marry and spend the next nine years together.

In any event, the four of us sat there listening to the radio and talking, my friend and I likely giggling the way 15 year old girls do, and drinking pop & eating chips. A perfectly normal evening, until the DJ interrupted the broadcast with a breaking news story. His voice was shakey and we all knew something really horrible had happened by the way he sounded when he first began to speak. Then he broke the news that Lennon had been shot, and had died that night in NY. I'm still not sure if he had the details accurate at the time of broadcast, but that's what he reported and while he said the words he was crying. The air went silent for a minute or so and so did the conversation in the room while we all just sat there looking at each other.

None of us were big Lennon or Beattles fans, but we all understood what a pop icon he and they were, growing up in the era that we did, and we understood how the pop/rock music world (and their fans) would be affected. It was eery to hear that someone larger than life like Lennon, was gone in such a violent withdrawl from the human race. Not long after hearing this, my friends left, the parents came home and I called my mom to come get me. I don't recall having much conversation about it with anyone after that night, but I do remember how it seemed to be a season of a series of events where I would have to process my own thoughts of death and dying, eternity, our purpose in life, why we're here and all that this means in the larger context. In just a few short months, one of the girls in my highschool died from toxic shock syndrome, another was killed instantly in a car accident, and another was diagnosed with some form of cancer and died within weeks of getting the news. Somewhere in there as well, John Lennon died. I was almost 16 and it was a strange, mixed up time for all of us that knew these girls and saw them everyday. Not long after this Ben and I had a horrible fight over a monumental misunderstanding , split up and he moved 1500 miles away. I wouldn't see him again for nearly five years.

It was at this time in my life that I used to purposely go for long walks in the cold, rainy streets of my western Washington town. I'd leave my hood off so my head would get soaked and I'd feel as miserable physically as I did emtionally. I'd sing popular rock & roll power ballads as loud as I could when the rain poured down hard (I'd do it that way so no one could hear me). I'd walk and walk and cry and cry. Letting the rain mix with my tears so no one knew I was crying. I cried for myself, I cried for John Lennon's kids, the families of the girls who died that year, and for all the pain that all of it brought with it. Those were the days of writing deep, dark, abstract poetry in the middle of the night, and writing heartwrenching music on the organ that sat in our dining room. Those were the days of coming to a realization that life was precious but also painful, and that there was something more that was the underpinning of it all.

It was at this time I started going to my brother's church youth group. He was saved, I was not, but he had something I wanted and even though I didn't know what it was, really, I knew it would be found in the gospel, in the Bible, and I wanted it. He and I both grew up hearing the gospel and we always both knew the truth but he had made it his own and taken it to heart, and I had not. Of course I didn't understand seeing myself as a sinner, or godly repentance, or holy living, or anything that comes with genuine inward change, but I knew there was something I was missing.

The whole youth group thing didn't work out for me (I've never been able to blend in well with cliques, and teenage ones are even trickier), but even years later after Ben and I were married I knew what I was missing. I was missing a genuine Christian life and a solid direction and a sure answer to that question I'd wonder about as a teenager walking and crying in the rain. The answer to the question "what are we here for?" is to serve God, and I knew it. Intellectually I knew it, but my heart would still not be changed for many years to come, and that time of having head knowledge and a heart-longing for something deeper, something real, something tangible was always a big part of my thought process.

When the DJ asked yesterday if the listening audience remembered where they were that night, I immediately thought of all of this, and how it was that season of life that the Lord purposely orchestrated in my life, to eventually bring me to literally being my face in repentance, coming before Him in true humility and seeking grace and mercy. It was a very long road getting there (I was not saved until I was 29), there were many deaths to deal with, much pain, and more tears than I ever thought possible for one person to cry. So yes, I do remember, and I chose to remember because in doing that, I am so incredibly grateful that the Lord didn't give me over, and let me go.

I'm pretty sure the local classic rock DJ wouldn't be much interested in that story of "where were you?" but I wanted to share it all the same.