When I boarded a plane in Korea to return to the States, I was 16 years old.
A few weeks shy of 17, and broken in unseen places, so that my introverted nature was cautiously curled into itself, afraid to move.
The first three years of high school had been a grand success in many aspects, but not in matters of the heart. I was emotionally bruised and lost in the wake of a dating relationship, and felt very much like I had failed everyone in my vicinity beyond redemption. I didn’t know where to begin picking up the pieces.
Would God still listen to a wayward child who had been so bent on getting her way? That first night in Virginia, I dragged a chair into the hotel bathroom past my sleeping family, and stared down at the blank page of my journal. My hand formed words with the slow and mechanical movements of one who has shattered something of worth.
I made friends in my new school, in that final year. I joined the musical chorus and went to Chicago to perform, attended senior prom, and learned to drive. My favorite place to study was the wood-paneled reading room at the nearby university; my go-to break treat, white chocolate macadamia cookies from the sandwich shop. I lived, yes, but in my times alone I held the ghostly shreds of my identity. I had left Korea in so many shards that the healing, if God chose to begin it, would be slow, and long.
I pause as I write this, because for all the years that have passed, I can still feel the weight of that waiting. I had run to the very end of my own strength. I had been insistent with God about what I wanted, clung stubbornly to it, staggered back horrified at the havoc I caused, and come back in shame with the blighted aftermath, unable to lift my voice in any confidence before His throne.
So I waited. And out of everything I did that quiet year, one odd memory stands out.
A few times every month, I went to the piano practice rooms at the university’s student center. These were tiny, windowless, soundproofed rooms, with barely enough space to hold an upright piano and a bench.
I would sit there with my CD player, and pick out the melody and accompanying notes to a song by ear. Measure by measure.
I didn’t know why; I only knew it brought some peace, and the feeling that I had accomplished something, even if it was only the piano arrangement of a song that expanded at a snail’s pace and was heard by no one else.
But I think I understand now, what I was doing in replaying that song over and over, carefully adding on the next chord only when I was sure I had the previous one right:
I was reconstructing the melody.
Playing the song over and over to see if it could be rebuilt.
Elsewhere, away from the AP classes and the buzzing lunch tables, and behind the many closed doors of my senior year, I was writing in a spiral notebook all the praise songs I remembered from my old church and school, because I didn’t know what the future held and I didn’t want to forget them. I was sitting on my knees in listening silences during prayer, and learning to see and re-see an unchanging landscape on walks. It was the path of a long surrender, and those songs, that listening, that watching — these were my ways of softly re-approaching the One whom I wanted to rebuild me.
Out of that time, I add my word to the many who testify that God does not despise a broken and contrite heart.
Quiet friends, if you find yourself alone in your hurt, whether because you wait with pieces and shards in your hands or because He has made everything around you become still, please don’t be afraid.
If alone is where we face Him, and where we see ourselves as we really are, then it is also the place where healing happens. We may be very much alone, but we are alone with Him, and this makes all the difference.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
– Ps. 145:18-19, ESV
Alone to hear the coming together of songs we used to play in His presence, when we are unsure if our rough and calloused fingertips can reflect His beauty again.
Alone is where the clatter of our broken pieces and abandoned compositions cascades into silence… a silence finally deep enough to hear Him singing over us.
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
– Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV
This post is part of a 31 day series about Loving God as an Introvert.