When I was sixteen, my grandpa died. It was one of those heart-crushing, soul-devouring moments that brought my entire life to a stop; a red light. And I sat at that red light for as long as I could. I watched cars crossing my path, feeling the freedom of the green light before them. I watched their seemingly easy, smooth drive lead them to their goal destinations. I sat there, at that spot, with my hands at ten and two, my body frozen with grief, and watched the red light above me gently swing in the breeze.
Grandpa was once beside me. He was once in the driver’s seat, leading me through life’s struggles, and pointing out at the road signs of wisdom that would pass us by.
He told me to always stay focused on what’s in front of me; that if I looked too long to the left or the right, I would naturally start steering the car slightly in that direction. I think about that often, even now. I think about how it applies to life too. My goals are in front of me. I am driving toward them, but if I get distracted, and start focusing too long on other things, I’ll end up steering toward them instead. What you focus on leads you in that direction. So if you focus on your goal, you are more likely to get there, and not steer off in another direction.
For years after he passed away, I sat frozen at that red light. I felt lost without his direction, or the stability of his presence. I had abandoned my broken heart. I left it bleeding, laying on the cold hospital room floor, where he took his last breath. I left it there for far longer than I should have. And I made choices that led me far away from where I ultimately wanted to be in life. Uncertainty had become my best friend. And I basked in it, in a self-loathing kind of way.
After some time, people began getting impatient and annoyed with me. I was still not moving after the red light changed to green. The honking and the yelling became overwhelming. And when I was finally ready to drive ahead, my car stalled.
I left the comfort of my own car of life, and began walking through an unknown territory of darkness. I got into the cars of others who led me down roads that weren’t meant for me. I looked to the wrong people, trying to fill the void left within my rib-cage after my grandpa went away. I was losing myself in the process. I was stuffing who I was, deeper and deeper inside me. And on the day that I realized that I was so far from my own car and from the light of day, I didn’t know how to find my way back.
I met God when I was seven. I asked him into my heart in the way that I was taught, and was told that I was born again. I had no idea what that truly meant. But I do know that I genuinely believed—and then as the years passed by– I genuinely drifted away from Him. I tucked God away in the back of my mind, until I felt broken beyond repair.
In the midst of my rock bottom pain, I was drawn back to Him.