I had had a miserable day, sleep deprived and anxiety ridden. I had broken down in the kind of ugly crying you hope no one ever sees you do when, after fighting to be brave all morning, I realized I had just missed a meeting (despite the 15-minute reminder that had popped up on my screen an hour before). I sobbed and sputtered, closing my office door and grabbing the Kleenex. It wasn’t the meeting that was so hugely important; it was the final straw on what had been a miserable few days. After some strained, deep breathes, that made me sound like I had nearly been suffocated, I was able to pull up a rendition of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” on my computer. I slowly regained my composure as I shakily sang along, my voice cracking every other word and tears welling up again. By the end of the song, I had stopped crying, though my heart still pounded in my ears.
By the end of my work day, I was feeling braver, as if the crying had actually done me some good. Heading out of the office, I prayed the prayer I had been glued to for the last 18 hours: Lord, thank You for being bigger than my fears. Thank You for being bigger than my pain, and for turning my fear into hope in You.
When I got home, I was almost glowing. I noticed an e-mail from an army recruiter. Reading the message, I laughed; I would be a terrible soldier. I have an arrhythmic heartbeat and foot problems that make running an enormous effort and a pain. Not to mention, my sense of style would be grossly offended by wearing a uniform—that uniform.
Nonetheless, my mind is as susceptible to suggestion as anyone’s. When one of my best friends called to catch up, I had to ask him if he’d ever considered joining the army. He had and we launched into a scheme to join the army together, go through boot camp and eventually become spies. We would both be great spies. I would be the charismatic one at state dinners in a slinky dress and a tiny concealed weapon; he would be the one in the shadows, doing all the back alley dealings and sitting on rooftops in black turtlenecks. Before I knew it, I was on the floor in my bedroom, rolling from laughter. The idea was absurd, yes (although, maybe not so much for him, an athlete with medical training), but I actually found it appealing. After all, my interest in combining textiles and technology would be well funded in a military setting, and my hopes for making smart clothing commercially viable could become a reality through such efforts.
“I’m going to army,” said my friend. I laughed again at his irregular use of the noun.
“I could go Kara Thrace it up,” I said, as though heavy drinking and a deeply suppressed, embattled relationship with my crazy mother was possible.
“We can get our heads shaved together!”
“Women don’t have to shave their heads!”
“Well, we’ll do an obligatory selfie,” he rejoined, with sheer mirth in his voice.
I finally insisted that I needed to get ready for bed, but we talked for another ten minutes, and I hung up the phone overcome with belly laughter still. As I settled into bed, filled with a sense of joy I hadn’t experienced in months, I looked over at my icons, remembering my plea the night before as tears streamed down my face, when I had reached a hand out to Christ in some kind of desperation, touching the cold, hard surface of his figure painted on wood, asking that salvation come quickly. I needed a miracle. Now, peering at the unchanging face on my wall, I knew my prayers had been sweetly and gleefully answered.