As her perception of life as she knew it felt, the tiny bed was hard. It was one of those awful moments when the question races through the mind like a lizard on a hot sidewalk, “How did I even get here?” No one wants to have those nights and hardly anyone is ready for them. Neither was she. While the people at the rehab facility were nice enough, she did not want to be there, but she had no choice. To say that her whole world fell apart is to put it mercifully succinct. Not only her world, but her universe, and those closest to her, were taken up in the firestorm of the familiar mantra of alcohol, drugs, and rocky, opulent luxury, leaving an unhealthy and tragic pile of discarded casualties, including her husband, children, business, and bank account.
“Out of the depths, I call to you, Lord; Lord, hear my cry!”
After a few hours of the most horrible and sickening nausea she could ever recall, with both an empty stomach and a soul that felt as if she was in free fall through a bottomless pit, she knew it was time. It was time to make the decision that was nestled deep within her tortured existence, and call out to God for whatever was left in their torn relationship. That wondrous moment arrived when as soon as she called out his name, a powerful, yet gentle aura of peace spread over her like morning dew and she knew that home would be rehab for at least three months of intense therapy and that this same person living in a tireless and meaningless cloud of ruthless storms worse than darkness, would emerge victoriously. She gently turned on her side and in the bleak, painful, and murky shadows, and saw the bright orange numbers of the digital alarm clock that looked as if it was purchased in the eighties. It seemed to burn the actual time into her brain, which houses memories that were about to be reconfigured and renewed in these final minutes before the dawn.
It was 5:11.
The next couple of months, as she imagined, were the “best of times and the worst of times,” to quote Dickens. They were horrible because she had in fact lost everything that helped define her life thus far. She had burned every bridge imaginable, and left little than the clothes in the Hefty bag outside her door, and her driver’s license sporting a picture that screamed, “Help me!” through a forced smile that attempted to portray a life well lived when that was the farthest from the truth.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and I hope for his word.”
One thing about herself that she liked the most was that she saw herself to be remarkably tenacious and resilient, especially after those first twenty-eight days of seeing life through sober eyes. She had done remarkably well in therapy and responded in a real, and at times, overwhelmingly honest fashion that helped her recovery, to an amazing degree, but also assisted those around her who were as lost and desolate as she was upon arrival. However, another real breakthrough and access to full recovery were to meet her after her time at the facility, upon her “graduation.” She had literally fallen off the face of the planet and nothing would or could ever be the same. However, as attached and stubbornly addicted as she was to the poisons of the soul which had earlier nearly destroyed her, she was equally poised and ready to begin again, from the very start. She had no home, no family, and no livelihood to speak of, so she began where everyone starts again: at the bottom. She would later say that hitting rock bottom had at least two wonderful aspects and comforting issues: it was bottom and the Rock was Jesus.
“My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak.”
Thanks to many, most of which had been in the same proverbial boat, she had help. It was going to be a long road but she was convinced that the journey would be life-giving as well as life-changing. She remembered reading John Stenbeck in college who wrote that “people don’t take trips, but rather trips take people,” and she fully agreed with that now on several levels.
Her story continues to be re-written even at the publication of this post. People who meet her today feel a sudden gush of optimism and hope even without her saying a word. She is a walking miracle and never overlooks the chance to tell others about this “dramatic novel on two feet,” as she likes to kid without adding one more fascinating detail about the whole experience.
Before applying for and receiving funding for a degree to recreate her professional life, one that required much sacrifice on many levels, she had to produce her birth certificate required to obtain a passport for an overseas practicum. She had learned to be patient and she knew how to teach it as well. The process of obtaining this document seemed so much trouble, but in the end, it would be worth it on at least two different accounts. The first, of course, would allow her to move forward and here is the second:
The long-awaited text finally reached her smartphone with the message that her certificate was ready but that she had the option, since she was still living in the same city, to go in person to actually sign for it or pay some bizarre amount of money to have it sent to her by some special courier arrangement. Being quite thrifty these days, having squandered so many funds on things that never truly satisfied, she decided to make a morning of it, and retrieve this timely document and meet up for lunch with her sponsor with whom she had maintained a healthy friendship. It was all so providential. Her birth certificate was ready for her and all she had to do was sign!
The following scene was almost magical, as if time actually slowed down as she stepped outside into the bright sunlight with a cool, whispering wind caressing her ever so gently. She carefully opened the envelope and reviewed all the information. As she read the names of her parents, she sighed a little remembering them fondly, long ago passed from this life to the next, and shedding a tiny tear of longing but hope as well. In retrospect, this was to help moisten the very groundwork of her soul for what was to happen next. She read the actual time of her birth:
It was 5:11.
It would be over dramatic to say that she stood paralyzed. No, it was more like a slice of heaven raining down upon her, filling her entire being with such an innate amount of joy that clearly defied definition or, at least at that particular moment, explanation. You see, as she tells people today, the time of her rebirth in this life corresponded directly to the time of her physical birth on the planet. This coincidence was not lost on her and most likely will never be. She found her own life and freedom at 5:11, discovering that it was as precious and priceless as life itself, fresh out of the womb as it were, and she was never, ever going to lose it.
“More than sentinels for daybreak, let Israel hope in the Lord. For with the Lord is mercy, with him is plenteous redemption. And he will redeem them from all their sins.”
Every day you and I have myriads of opportunities to find the greatest treasures that exist within and all around us. This is why deep, abiding friendships are so necessary for the journey. More than that, we must encounter the Lord Jesus, who like for our friend who found life and freedom at 5:11, stands ready to hold us and mold us and prepare us for a journey that oftentimes escapes sufficient explanation. Open up the Bible today to any page and let the Word of God just permeate and touch you. Talk to Jesus. Let him know how you are feeling right here, right now. This is the stuff that makes of a miraculous, breathtaking, and wondrous life. This is the kind of life that Jesus truly wants for us, to thrive and not just survive. It is a life that continues to grow deeper with the passing of each day. It becomes a life where you can’t wait to get up in the morning to see what is waiting for you and feel a little tinge of sadness when it’s time to go to bed.
Everyone has a 5:11. What is yours?
Share your thoughts (46 thoughts)
“Live life to the fullest. You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece. Laugh some every day. Keep growing, keep dreaming, keep following your heart. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein