Worship Night was awesome last night—huge thanks to our awesome worship team who worked so hard to make that happen for us. And to Jenny, who wrote, performed, filmed, and edited her spoken word testimony to share. Dang, girl:
The full transcript:
When I was a kid, I hated the movie Alice in Wonderland.
Not because of a psychotic queen who thirsted for the blood from her enemy’s necks, but because Alice sat on a stone lost in the forest crying and no matter how much she begged and no matter how much pain she felt, she wouldn’t be able to wake herself up.
And long before the depression ever came into our house, I used to pray not dream, every night, saying, “God, I don’t like them even when they are happy, because they are not real.” I was always afraid of dreaming, always afraid of heights,
but the clouds were the only hiding place I could find away from darkness that I was even more afraid of.
This is my story.
I suffocated myself with optimism out of desperation to blur my vision of pessimism so I could make my throat bend the oxygen enough for the red pulses of my panic to burst the veins in my eyes until my darting pupils were too broken not to rush through the situations in front of me
until the yellows of streetlights bled into the gray night clouds like an overexposed photograph I framed and hung and nailed my head to until I was okay,
until I believed life was perfect,
until we both got silent, my sister and I.
It was those silent nights that got me.
Because when she would lie on her bed too quietly for her to feel the bed sheets, I would lie next to her and hold her shoulders like they were railings and say her name, and we would look at each other in silence.
We would lie there still while the moment and the silence existed around us. While I waited for the beginning of the moment to become a memory so that time could erode and the size of my desperation could disappear from the corner of my twitching eye because gosh
there were so many things I didn’t want to see.
I would say her name again just to say something. I had to say something
like how the baby bird our neighbor hit out of our tree when we were kids needed to be put in a blue shoe box next to our windowsill for a summer because I was your only glimpse of perfection, of what was right, of the reason for living, of hope,
gosh, maybe I was beautiful.
Maybe it wasn’t our fault. Maybe the world looks best when it’s reflected through the broken ripples of a wishing well. Maybe if we throw in enough pennies we won’t be able to see how far away the sky is because, gosh, maybe I’ll try hard enough, and maybe I’ll find the right words.
Maybe if we wait.
Gosh, maybe if we whistle innocently enough the birds will come and make you a ballgown, gosh, the sashes and the pearls are yours; I won’t let them be ripped off you. Gosh, I’ll make you the dress myself, and, gosh, if we have no needle, I’ll use my teeth, and, gosh, if we have no thread, I’ll pull out my hair like I’m fighting cancer because, gosh darn it, I swear on my life you’ll be okay.
I’ve only sworn once in my life.
And it was at our white washed church, when I swore at myself to convince you I was sorry, because that Sunday morning was the first time you told me you wanted to kill yourself.
And I was so terrified I laughed at you.
As if the sound of gulps of happiness hiccuping out of me could snap you out of it before you left me forever. Gosh, darn it. I swore only once, and I swore to tell you that I have no clue what I am doing.
And the thing is, I chimed again like the bells our church never had. I said her name, but like a bell tone I was dissolved within seconds because I was only metal hitting metal, and the air in her bedroom increased its density when she had stopped holding her breath for me.
I had nothing to say. In my emptiness,
there was only silence.
And in my silence, she became aware of my hand touching her shoulder, which forced her to remember the bed sheets.
My silence struck her mind like how glass strikes gravity because her loneliness seeped from ideas to her eyes, and as she cried, my hands tensed with her body, matching the pulses of the rhythm of her convulsive pain until her gasps for breath shook me thousands of miles away from her.
I would escape, flee to my room, throw myself into my bed and bounce back into life again. Pumping my ears with supplements of fiction, with the promises of the arbitrary characters in their arbitrary stories until the voices were by the hundreds,
and those weeks became years,
and my ears became deaf,
and my lullabies became perfect,
and I was safely embedded in those whispers and battle cries as I tucked myself to sleep.
And all of my nightmares became about helplessness.
As if the more I fell in love with dreams, the more my dreams fell in love with the deeper darker fall of uncontrollable emotions. Every night was a gaping hole that pulled out my doubts out from behind my skin and made them crawl up my wall until their blackness softened every frame of every plastic printed superhero poster of me.
If I just accepted that I needed this purity of my mind, this mutated happiness, then
I could deal with the frantic flailing at night to turn on my light.
I could deal with running.
I could deal with ignoring.
I could even deal with the feeling of her crying in my arms just so long as I held on long enough to make her believe I still had some promise in me that was worth holding on to, even though in truth I was empty, and that was why it hurt when she shook me, because my hollowness carried the echoes of her actions so far around in me that the ricochets felt like the condemning yank of a hanging rope.
Don’t fall asleep.
Don’t stay awake.
Keep the light on.
I can’t breath.
The oxygen is cool and my face is hot, but in the silence, the excuse of this rope was worth it, and the burns in my bloodshot eyes were worth it, because when the darkness stared at me, I stared at a deterioration of my own words as my throat choked my voice until my voice grew hoarse,
and then my groans became yells,
and my yells became shouts,
and then my shouts became cries,
and my cries became long,
and my frequencies became notes,
and my notes became a melody,
and my lyrics became,
“So let hope rise, and darkness tremble in Your holy light.”
“Let hope rise, and darkness tremble in Your holy light. And every eye will see Jesus our God, great and mighty to be praised.”
I remember the way I sang into my knees that day.
The way my voice sounded when I realized it was mine.
The way my weight pushed my knees into the ground.
The stretch I felt as I pushed my hands away from me. In my hands was my fear. In my feet was the pressure I nurtured in myself through every single book, every movie, every show, every song, every story, and I let go.
He took the burdens I didn’t know I had.
He wrapped me in a blanket of His love.
He held my shoulders like they were breaking.
He held me and said, “I … am taking care of you.”
My name is Jennifer Lors.
And I am redefined.