I took a train ride last week.
You might think it’s silly that I was so excited for this simple day trip on a train. You might think it’s endearing. You might even feel a measure of excitement with me. But I know you don’t see it the way I saw it, because I saw it through my spiritual eyes. The Lord made this train ride a piece of my story months before I even arrived at the station.
The school year ended in early May. My first year of college was done and I was terrified and discouraged. I knew it was a good thing that I was in college, but… I didn’t know why. Why was this a good thing? I questioned everything I knew about the future, and especially everything I didn’t know. When I looked ahead, I saw the summer job I had to get. Then the next year of college. Then another summer job, then another year, and before I knew it, I was stuck in a monotonous job I didn’t want with the degree I didn’t want living a life against every dream I had– a life I didn’t want. I couldn’t escape. I was lying in my bed, immovable, afraid of what I would do if I got up. I didn’t enjoy life. But I knew I needed it with all my soul.
I woke up the next day and ran to one of my big sisters for help; I think I literally ran across the sanctuary to find her. We cried, and she prayed with the most intense love and passion. She held my hands incredibly tight, as if she wanted to keep me on earth with her grip.
When I got home, I listened to the music of someone I love who gave up living last year. I heard his struggle in it. I heard that he knew the truth and that he firmly held to what Jesus said. I heard that his longing for Jesus and for peace was overwhelming. And I heard him telling me that all he held to about Jesus and hope was real; telling me to stay, because Jesus is here just as much as He is in heaven with him. Jesus has made it possible for me to run to Him in life, to live with Him on earth. I am alive. And I will be for as long as I can.
Not long after that day, my mom told me about an e-mail she’d just received from my grandmother. Grandma had remembered me say in passing that I’d always dreamed of taking the train somewhere, anywhere– and she had booked a day trip for my birthday in October. I didn’t cry; I didn’t feel my heart sink into my stomach; I didn’t feel any overwhelming joy. But I was keenly aware of God’s voice, saying, “Tessa, dreams are not fruitless. One is being fulfilled right in front of you and you have five entire months to look forward to it; you have a reason to keep living and keep dreaming. Dreams are meant to be used to live. This is one gift for you. Others to come.”
The news of the train was an embrace, one that said I was going the right way. Being alive is a good thing, and dreams are a real part of being alive. My future is uncertain to me, but it is holding so much promise.
Sometimes I’m still sad for no reason; there are days that are just so hard for me to carry hope in. Today is one of those days. But being alive is good. And I just want to encourage you, from one broken person to another, that you’re going to be okay. You can overpower those thoughts, you can survive the sadness, you can have a fondness for life unlike anyone else because you know just how valuable it is. I’m still waiting to see it, but I believe in it, even if it sometimes feels like I shouldn’t.
This part of my story is terrifying to share, it’s taking a lot of me just to keep typing, but I think it’s time to be honest. I think that in my honesty I can show you that you can be honest, too. Please. Tell someone, and don’t shrink back from getting help if you need to. You need to live, no one else can do what you can. You contribute to this world even when you can’t see it. People love you even if you don’t believe them. And someday things will change. There is hope for your life. Let’s live, and live truly, okay? And let’s be honest with each other on the hard days. Can you please do this with me?