It had been a week since I'd walked away from a relationship with my best friend. It had dominated the better part of the last year.
The relationship was more than a little toxic, and it wrought a messy and mean break up. Being with him had meant sacrificing my friends and family, my ties to home, my career ambitions, and the freedom to acknowledge and praise God without being shamed for it. And now at the end of it, I was even more painfully alone. The gossip he spread in our aftermath had cost me whatever friends I thought I had left.
I hadn’t eaten or slept well in a week. I was drinking constantly. I was deeply ashamed of who I was. My life didn’t have meaning anymore.
But I had still shown up to work — probably propped up by misery and booze alone. A lot of the past week had been a painful blur but I vividly remember at one point gazing down at the floor, acutely feeling solitude and the aching of my indefinitely hungover body. Somehow, out of nowhere, my head turned towards the divine for the first time in months.
“Father,” I thought. “Help me!”
At first there was just more solitude. Then softly, I heard a voice in the back of my head. It was my own voice.
“We could go home.”
Whether it was my voice or God’s, it doesn’t really matter. I hadn’t heard either in a year. And yet, here they were. A bit of fear began to swell. But what about school? My job? What would the others think if I dropped everything and ran?
But greater than the fear was the shock. I had called for help and got an answer. I couldn’t ignore that. It took me fifteen minutes to pack. I called a classmate to tell them where I was going. I emailed my professors declaring “an unfortunate turn of events” had called me home early for fall break. Then I got in my car and drove 500 miles west. I drove for six hours, crying most of the way, feeling very much unworthy even to run. Then at the end of those 500 miles, I was home.
It was dusk by the time I arrived. As I rolled into town, the stars were peeking out over the rocky foothills which the man I had “loved” always thought looked messy, and which I had always loved to explore as a girl. He had also always hated Edison lightbulbs. Tonight, the downtown streets of my home were gracefully illuminated by their soft glow.
He had also told me that my family didn’t want me anymore — that I had grown too apart from them, and that we disagreed on too many things. Yet, when I opened the front door to my parent’s house, I found four open arms, two dogs, a hot meal, and a freshly made bed. The crying stopped.
It’s been six months now, and I still look back to that homecoming as the greatest turning point I’ve ever reached. Because of a rash decision made by a little voice in my head in an answer to a painful prayer, I got everything back.
In the weeks and months ahead, I’d improve my relationship with my family. I’d return to the church. I’d tend to my physical and mental health. I’d be given new and more loving friends. I’d never again feel shame over myself or my home. And it all began with the simple, little voice asking to be brought home, and the bravery to follow that voice.
“You can never go too far when you can come back home again” comes to mind. Sometimes we just have to brave enough to realize just that.