by Beth Saadati
The quick glance out the window was innocent. Unintended. A lazy Saturday morning thing. But it was enough to view what I by no means wanted to see.
In the middle of my backyard stood an uncommonly large, Edgar Allan Poe raven-like crow. Beside it lay a coiled mound.
I squinted to focus my nearsighted eyes then called for my husband, Komron, and asked him to step outside.
As we stood on the patio concrete, I pointed to the pile. “What is that?”
Part of me hoped he’d lie and let me live deceived. Instead, he minced no words.
“It’s a snake,” he said. “I’ll be back.”
A snake…take a deep breath…it’s just a snake. (For the record, “just” NEVER belongs in the same sentence as “snake” as far as I’m concerned.)
Needless to say, the internal monologue failed to persuade my scaredy-cat self. My heartbeat escalated to 200 beats-per-minute as I waited . . . paralyzed.
[A responsible blogger would insert a picture of the snake here. But was photographing that nemesis anywhere on my radar at the time? Heck no.]
My insane fear mingled with something else—a blend of anger, of disappointment, of it isn’t fair—because, on that gorgeous May day, I’d really wanted to finish a task outdoors. Now the snake’s presence would hold me hostage inside.
You see, last weekend I’d finally tended to the garden I’d neglected, the project I used to enjoy. For essentially the first time since my daughter’s death in 2013, I’d located the raised beds, pulled out the weeds, turned over the dirt, submerged the seeds.
But, more than planting seeds, I’d sown hope. Hope for a harvest, for restoration of joy. It reminded me of a line from "The Rain Keeps Falling," one of my favorite Andrew Peterson songs: “My daughter and I put the seeds in the dirt, and every day now we’ve been watching the earth for a sign that this death will give way to a birth.”
Not only had I sown hope, I’d followed the 4-word motto that has severely impacted choices I've made since being shaken by suicide:
Run Toward The Roar.
Powerful sayings speak to me, as evidenced by my puny Pinterest page, and this one tops my list. It comes from a post Davey Blackburn had written after the murder of his lovely young wife.
In it, Davey discusses a concept presented by Levi Lusko in the book Through the Eyes of a Lion. It unpacks like this:
At the ferocious sound of a male lion’s roar, animals flee to seek safety only to be ambushed by lionesses (yep, that’s plural) that lie on the outskirts waiting to kill. In contrast, if animals run TOWARD the roar despite their fright, they’ll most likely avoid the strategic death-trap and survive.
Maybe you can relate to this illustration. It definitely resonates with me.
Although we instinctively turn and bolt from trials, hurt, and pain, when we run toward the terrifying roar of what we’d rather not confront—and let God meet us there—we're able to journey more fully alive.
It’s what I so imperfectly attempted when I've . . .
- · Returned to my daughter’s school
- · Cleaned out her locker
- · Packed up all she left behind
- · Read through Jenna’s writings
- · Continued to teach teens
- Spoken with the boy who’d delivered bullying words
- Shared on this blog
- · Celebrated others’ graduations
- · Battled depression’s darkness and lies
. . . even though it’s hard, it hurts, and nothing is quite the same.
Still, the roar of some seemingly small things, such as restoring the garden, had kept me away because of the now-bittersweet memories I hadn’t wanted to face.
When I labored the weekend before, memories crashed over me in waves. Of the garden planning Jenna and I had originally done when she was young. The South Carolina clay we’d sifted. The seeds we’d sown. The harvest we’d gathered. The place she’d played when she needed a break. The trellis she’d stood under for photos before attending her first, and last, formal dance.
As I fought back tears, I recalled the words Jenna used to say—“It’s gonna be okay, Mom”—when she'd rest her chin on the top of my head and hug me from behind.
Before long, Komron returned from the garage, armed with a shovel and a box of cancer-causing-according-to-California moth balls.
“It’s a black snake—the good kind,” he said, “so, unless you want me to, I probably shouldn’t kill it.”
A good snake? The only thing my English-teacher brain registered was Isn’t that an oxymoron?
I paused then said, “Do whatever you think best.”
Almost magically, the moth-ball stench made the snake move. Komron hedged the garden with them, which drove my slithering foe toward the rear chain-link fence. Meanwhile, Max, our trusty little mutt who twice chased down live squirrels and brought them to their doom, was too preoccupied with a chipmunk to give it a wink.
“The snake is still here,” I said, unsatisfied.
“I don’t feel right about sending it into our neighbor’s yard.” Truth be told, I didn’t either, even though, secretly, I wished Komron would.
He turned and looked me in the eye. “There’s enough courage in you to finish what you were hoping to do.”
Nope, sorry but there's not. I was as certain of that as I was of winning the lottery with a ticket I hadn't bought. Then I remembered another garden from ancient times—where a heel was bruised and a head was crushed—and I realized our enemy had deceived and frightened my girl into running the wrong way. But the One who knows and loves us fights for us and longs for us to stay.
So, regardless of the unwanted company in my yard, I remained.
. . . to finish the work I’d begun.
. . . to reclaim former hope and joy.
. . . to make what's ugly beautiful once more.
And trusted that, even when fear overwhelms each of us, we'll have just enough courage to run toward the roar.