I Hear Him and I Surrender
This is an excerpt from my final chapter from I Run: Running from Hell with El
Many people have asked me, often with great exasperation, what I was running away from. For years, friends told me to stop. Over and over and over again, people told me to rest, to stand still, to stop. But I was too scared. I was scared of myself, of the demons that danced and pranced inside me. I was scared of dying, perhaps by my own hand. I was scared I’d end up in Hell. I was scared of my past. I was scared of facing my pain. I was scared I wouldn’t survive whatever I saw when I finally faced it—all of it.
And I’m still scared. I’m fucking terrified. Really, I am. I’m at this crossroads, and I gotta decide which way to turn—which path to take. If I keep running away from my pain, something really bad is going to happen to me. I don’t know what that is, and in the past, I’d just keep running for miles and miles, one day, one horizon, one sunset fading into the next, until my legs could carry me no farther. I’d follow one path, then turn down another one, hoping that I could drink in the adventure of it all and find my way back home someday.
I don’t like to give up. It feels like surrender. And surrendering means making myself vulnerable. All my life, I’ve gritted my teeth and refused to stop moving. God tried to get my attention more than ten years ago. The seizures almost killed me. And I heard Him loud and clear. I had given up on Him and then, all of a sudden, well, I needed Him. I realized how much I loved being alive, and every night before I fell asleep, I thanked Him for another day, and begged Him to let me see the morning light.
And yet I kept running away. I waged war against myself; I plotted my own downfall; and I teetered on the edge of living and dying. He was patient with me. He gave me three beautiful children and they loved me. Through them, I felt the first glint of self-love. Because of them, I fought . . . I hung on. I tried to find my way through the darkness inside; I tried to live a good life but I kept running away from my past. I remained a stranger and too often, an enemy to myself and thus to Him.
The bus collided with our SUV and my life as I knew it ended. I knew He kept me alive that night for a reason. I felt His grace inside me as I screamed with a mother’s fierce love, “NO!! Don’t hurt my children!!” For once, I stood still for a little while. And I felt a pain unlike anything I had ever felt before. I ran to Him; sobbing, I collapsed in front of a priest and confessed not just my sins, but the sins others had done to me. I tried to find my way to Him through my childhood Catholic faith, but the church would not have me as I was—the Catholic church rejected my Protestant marriage.
I staggered and fled again. I was trying to find my way but I managed to get lost again. I ran and I ran and I couldn’t stop running this time because I was running to stay alive. You see, I was running back through my past. I was running right through the gates of Hell and the only way to get through Hell is to keep moving until you’re safe again.
It took me two years of intense therapy to get out of there alive.
This year, for Lent, my therapist ordered me to stop hurting myself—to stop even wanting to hurt myself. I couldn’t do this alone. I needed God’s help. He filled me with His light and I turned that light on the demons, real or metaphorical I do not know, that were lodged inside me. I don’t care how this sounds. All I know is that after two decades of wanting to hurt myself, of sometimes hurting myself, I stopped. I didn’t overcome this on my own. I worked hard that day to channel light and goodness and most of all, God’s will. You see, He helped me do it.
Since this day, this miraculous day, I haven’t wanted to hurt myself. And yet, I still wasn’t listening very well either. And He kept trying to reach me. He sent friends to talk to me, friends who told me they carried His message. It’s true. I sort of listened, but I also kept running, but slower. Not as far. And every so often, I would pause, look around, and listen. I started to read the Bible again. I started to listen when He talked to me, and I’ve been trying to figure out what He wants me to do.
Then He spoke to my friend. This is part of what He told her:
A: He says you are running from Him, too…and stop it sooner rather than later.
A: Run to Him, not away…Run to Him…
El: I hear Him. Chills are running up and down my spine.
A: Then listen…be kinder to yourself and trust Him to get you through the process. You cannot hear Him when you are constantly going 100 miles an hour. And your body won’t hold out if you do not slow down. He will get your attention, and He will slow you down. It’s entirely your choice which way it goes.
El: Wow–is this Him or you–the tough love thing?
A: Him. I just type it.
A: Once He wants your attention, He will stop at nothing to get it but it is done out of LOVE—not sickness like all of the past people because he is not a people…He is God! And if He has to inflict pain to heal, He will do that—with love.
El: I hear.
A: It is easier if you surrender…but I know that is hard for you.
… … …
I do have a choice, apparently. I can listen to Him, or I can keep running. If I keep running, and don’t listen, I’m going to get injured, again. And it ain’t going to be pretty. The thing is, some people I love very much depend on me. And if I can’t get my shit together for myself, I can do it for them.
I wasn’t 100% sure what I was running to when I started writing this book, but now I know. I knew I was running away from Hell but I didn’t quite grasp where I was supposed to go. But now He has spoken and I’m listening. No more running away. My safety lies in Him and deep inside of me–that place we all have if we can get very, very still, and hear Him. I hear Him. I’m on my way. I’m on my way home.
That’s a lovely piece of writing. I like how you bare your soul, yet keep the tenor not overtly sentimental. It’s a gift!
So good to see you my friend! And thank you so much–what a kind compliment! I hope you have a lovely weekend!
I’m not sure how to even articulate my response to this post. I will only say that I’ve been running and not resting for some time. I am beat, spiritually malnourished. I know from personal experience that “He does get our attention if we don’t slow down.” I think He just stopped me in my tracks. Thank you for being His mouthpiece.
Aw, it’s so good to see you Keepingitreal! Thank you so much for sharing that with me. And I hear you, I really do, re feeling spiritually malnourished. I hope that you listen better than I usually listen . . . too often, He has to hit me with a two by four to get my attention. Peace, sister.
I love you and your writing and your courage and I think you are just such a great instrument of God’s love in the world. I am so blessed to know you.
And I love you my friend. Your comment makes me smile–one of those big, happy smiles. Thank you.
Such sweet literature. I can handle reading through your pain because I know where it is leading you and how getting through it all is transforming you. Just freaking amazing stuff, El. Thanks for sharing yourself with us.
Thank you so much, my friend. That is actually a HUGE compliment to me because I am frank about my pain and I don’t wanna wear people out with it . . . but I want to be honest too. Clouds and stormy weather make the sunshine all the brighter, you know? Or so I hope. And thank YOU for being here and listening. It makes it so much easier, to tell my story, knowing that people care.
Absolutely. I understand this on so many different levels. Keep going. You’re right about the sun: it shines brighter after it has just rained.
El, your post touched my soul as I went through something very similar in my life. I am 61 years old and it is all a memory now. Thank you God, you are wonderful! I wrote a little poem in 1988 when it was all over and I have never shown it to anyone but I feel called for some reason to share it now with you. I hope you don’t think it is silly. <3
Goodbye old friend
You served me well, but in the end
You were the foe
And we both know, that I used you to survive and grow.
Goodbye old foe
I need you not, but through it all
I've not forgot
That many times, you were all I had
Goodbye, to neither good or bad.
Hello April! Yes, God is wonderful!! Oh gosh, thank you so much for sharing this poem with me! And you’re saying goodbye to your pain, in this poem, and it makes absolute and total sense to me–it really does. I know I’ve had a hard time letting go of my own. I’m not sure why, but your words above have given me something more to think about. And I am going to think some more about it. I want to honor the pain even as I let it go . . . does that make any sense to you?
Love, love, love this El! Can I ask? Do you already have other books published? I’ve seen you post about “ripple” and this one
Thank you so much Christina!! Nope. Ripple is ready to go out to agents. I Run is a mess (I write fondly) but will be ready by the end of the year. And then I’m going to be working hard on Alien Enlightenment, which will be about God, angels, demons, aliens and serial killers. I didn’t get serious about my writing career until 2011. Before then, I was a lawyer (and I have three little kids). So good of you to stop by!!
El, that’s such an amazing story. Having only followed your for a short time, I really had no idea what to expect from the post today and was pleasantly surprised. There are several people in my life I wish would realize they’ve been running away from God for some time. It gives me comfort to hear that some people hear His call and maybe someday soon my loved ones will hear that same call too. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much, Jae! I’ve followed a circuitous and often confusing path spiritually for sure. I do believe that God understands when we have trouble finding our way to Him. He is patient and He loves us no matter what mistakes we make. My closest friend, who is Catholic, once said to me (when I was in despair): God loved you so much that He decided to make you and he loved you before you even existed. One day he decided that you simply had to be born–that is how much he loves you. I think I’m getting her quote a little wrong, but it reassured me so much!!
Amazing grace, El.
Aw Elyse–thank you so much hun.
This post is truly magnificent. The work being done in you now is even more magnificent. Trust that work. Honor that work. Be still in that work and learn to trust God completely, and love yourself as He loves you! I love you, too! Xoxoxo
Thank you so very much, Ann. I’m trying dear friend. Really, I am. He scared the shit out of me, which is pretty much what it takes to get me to listen. I’m listening and I am indeed reading the Bible . . . and to do whatever it is He wants me to do. I love Him. And I love you too.
As always you remind me of the real meaning of gratitude and fortitude and how they go together. I have no doubt of your strength. I have no doubt in your ability to let yourself relax into the goodness.
Kelly: I’m so grateful to see you here, and I appreciate you so very much. Thank you for trying to understand me and my faith. Your respect for others also reflects your self-respect and total decency and I consider myself very fortunate to have you as a friend. xo ~el
El, this makes me tearful and joyful. God so loves you and wants to know you…I’m so glad you hear Him. <3 beautiful!
Thank you so much dear friend! And yes, yes He sure does love us, and man, that makes me feel good! xoxo
Learn to be still.
(It’s a song.)
Wow. How many times have I heard that song and missed the meaning? Thank you, my friend!
powerful words! evocative writing…….
Thank you so much!!
Reblogged this on Drndark.
I love you
And I love you Val.
I see you deleted my post. I’m sorry you found it unsuitable. It was an honest statement of how I feel about my own relationship with God, in whom, unfortunately like so many others, I don’t believe. That is my choice as a result of my own abuse. I’m sure, that just as in your case, many have found their peace in God, there are just as many like me, who have found peace other ways. That was all I was trying to say.
That said, I applaud what you have done and are doing. Your final chapter is beautiful, a fitting conclusion to your book which I’m sure will comfort so many out there. All the best with it. I am glad you can finally stop running.
I did NOT delete your post. I have never deleted anyone’s post.
How odd. It definitely was there. I was the third one to post and saw it on the page. Maybe just a wordpress glitch. Sorry El. I’m glad to know you didn’t delete it. Thanks for letting me know.
Seriously, on my honor, I did not delete it. I have long struggled with my own faith, and I’d never reject friendship with someone on account of their faith (except if you call Satanism a faith–I don’t . . .) and I believe that we learn more when we talk to people with different beliefs. In fact, if you go through the comments here and elsewhere, you will see discussions about faith, politics, philosophy, etc., and I’m certain you will witness diverse opinions entertained with respect. As an oft-agnostic, I would sooner condemn someone else for their beliefs than I would condemn my own best efforts to find answers to my own questions. Sigh. I got a killer headache, so I’m going to go rest for a bit. Just please know that you are *always* welcome on any website I host, my friend. xoxo ~el
Hey El, no sweat. I think I know what happened and it wasn’t your fault at all. I wrote my comment, then had to login to post it. ONce I logged in, I then had to “post comment” and chances are I missed. that. It nearly happened again when I went to post this reply. Sorry for any upset.
Your words mean so much to so many. Just keep doing what you’re doing :))
Smiles, my friend.
Oh my. I have been having such trouble getting here – blogger really has hissy fits at wordpress, but am so glad I perservered. Nearly as glad as I am to here that you are finally able to stop hurting yourself and to take those small (huge) steps in the right direction.
Like vigaland, I am not a believer but cannot condemn anyone who is. If it works for you, and hurts no-one else do it. And your positive steps are for you and for your children. Which rocks.
Thank you for this honest, heart warming, heart hurting post. I loved it.
Hello my friend! I’m so happy you stopped by–and you’re right–Blogger and WordPress really aren’t playing well together, and I have to work hard to get over to Blogger (sigh). Thank you so much for your kind thoughts! And just as you don’t condemn anyone for their beliefs, I don’t condemn those of us who lack the same. Amen to positive steps that are good for me and my children!
I hope you have a lovely Sunday!
Wow that was absolutely beautiful writing, El. The best writing doesn’t just share a thought or feeling, but invokes emotion in the reader. You did it. Courageously and honestly. And I felt it. 🙂
Thank you so very much, Kourtney!! You are too kind, and your comments above made me really smile! Stay well!
Heartfelt – raw – honest – and supremely touching. I want to say that God was always running right beside of you, but belonging to a family where suicide has happened more than once – I realize the curtain that falls over our ability to feel that there is a reason to keep up the race. I have said, ‘where was God for this one?’ when a life was lost before its natural time. And yet, I still hold God tightly to my beliefs and hope that every footstep you take from this day forward is within his grace. Blessings.
Morning my friend! Yes–well-said re the “curtain that falls over our ability . . .” and I am so very sorry for the loss of your loved ones. It always amazes me, now that I’m healthy, just how warped my reason had been when I was self-destructive. How could I have been so blind? I don’t get mad at myself when I ask these questions, no more than I get angry when friends of mine feel desperate in a similar way now. All I can do is live a good life going forward, and hope I can show my children the way to do the same.
And like you, I hold tight to my beliefs and I do know He is with us. Bless you too, my friend.
Oh, El…It’s so easy to see how God is using you (in a good way). The God that I believe in cries with us through our pain and then helps us get back on our feet again, the same way we do with our children. He loves you so much, and it is obvious to me that He has great plans for you. Keep running to Him, El, for that is where you are safe. And keep talking and writing about Him, because that is how you will help lead others to the safety of His love. I know you have been to hell and back at the hands of evil people, but you, my friend, are one of God’s most beautiful creations. I feel honoured to know you, even at a distance. Big hugs…and God bless. 🙂
Laura: thank you so very much for your kind thoughts above! Thank you especially for encouraging me to keep talking and writing about Him. For some reason, I often feel stymied or scared to do this, as if I would get it wrong, or even worse, as if my intelligence or sanity will be questioned by skeptics or nonbelievers. Then I remind myself that we’re supposed to testify for Him . . . and more importantly, who cares what mere humans say? What really matters is what He says! Thank you for encouraging me!
As I am honored to know you! Big hugs right back, and many blessings!
You already know what I think about your writing, I’ve told you many times, so I won’t bother to say it again. But, now I want you to put on your attorney hat and think logically.
Is God not Holy and pure? Is God not love? If you have answered “Yes” to these questions, then I ask you, “How can God inflict pain, which is evil, on His children?” The truth is that He can’t. This is a medieval way of thinking that the church used as a means of controlling the lower class. It had nothing to do with God, it was purely political and you must stop thinking that God has done any harm to you. In truth, bad things have happened to you so that you would run into his arms. Where would you be if the past events of your life didn’t bring you to this point in time? Would you be the person you are today? No. You would be someone else in the same body. You don’t know who that other person would be, but it’s obvious that God does and He didn’t want you to be that person.
A.’s idea that God will use pain to bring you to Him is false. Although, her other reasoning is sound and I do believe that God is using her to tell you what He wants you to know. Unfortunately, when we hear God we also relay the message with our own beliefs.
I want you to know, that God will never hurt you and He is calling to you. He wants you to hand over your entire mind, body, heart, soul and life. In doing so, you will be handing over all the demons that haunt you. Where there is light there cannot be darkness. God is the light and the demons are the darkness. He will dispel them for you.
You are already blessed, El. You must look at the blessings in your life and focus on them. Let God handle the burdens.
With friendly love,
Thank you so much, dear friend. I am thinking, and trying to figure out what He wants me to do. Much love and so much gratitude to you. ~el
Beautiful El! He does love you, He loves us all and it is so amazing when we do finally listen for Him. Like I’ve heard some of my friends say before, “Try God, the devil will always take you back.” Once we try Him, we find out that He will always be there and He will give us peace, love, forgiveness and mercy and will never leave us. <3
Thank you so very much Christina!! And man, thank you for reminding me that He loves me . . . for some reason, that always helps, always makes me feel better and safer. And that is such a powerful reminder–that he will never leave us. It’s so good to see you here–stay blessed!! xo
So powerful, El… I honestly feel equipped to respond in the way I would like to. I’m not a very verbal person to begin with, but I feel that nothing I say will sound quite right… or will be quite supportive enough… or be just… enough, somehow. But please know I sincerely hope you find that place you are looking for… that only good things meet you there, and that you encounter only good things on your journey. I can tell you are an incredibly strong person… and I feel like if anyone can do it, you can (and will), El.
God helps us go through our toughest times . And our family’s love gives us the support and inspiration to face the storms. Thanks for sharing this post. Makes me feel that I am not alone in this world. All of us have our crosses to bear and it makes a difference when we have someone to help us carry the burdens. Wishing you all the best.
Wow. I can relate, but praise God He got your attention and that you changed the direction of your flight. I ran — hard — and then spent 18 years trying to be invisible. It was only when I fled into His arms, threw myself at His merciful, loving feet and learned to abide in Him that I’ve learned the meaning of joy and true peace. It’s only when I get up from that spot and let myself start drowning that I lose sight of all He has taught me — it is never that He has left me — it is always that I leave Him, believing the strength He has given me has made me able to do it on my own, freeing Him for the ‘more important’ people who need him. What a fool I am, but He loves me still.
This touched me. I’m glad to know I’ll meet you someday — when we are all home!
Aww so nice to meet you (via this blog) and hear your story! Thank you so very much for stopping by!! ~elf