Even among the chaos there was a sense of peace. Boxes were piled up everywhere … in the garage, down the halls and in each bedroom. I felt like I was on an episode of Hoarders, but instead, we were just a family trying to move into our new home. A new home we had waited longer than expected to get in to.
In 2018, we decided to sell our home and build a new one. It sounded like fun on paper, but in reality, it impacted nearly every aspect of our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined. So even though we had more boxes than I knew what to do with lying around our new home, I settled in a peace that — finally — we were able to make our new home our home.
Life didn’t stop along this adventure. Kids still had homework and projects. My husband and I were still inundated with work demands and a speaking engagement was upon me, merely days after we unloaded the boxes from the moving trucks. We moved into the home as quickly as we could, but quickly meant we had no shelving yet for our closets … no mirrors yet for our bathrooms … no glass yet for any of our showers. So, prepping for the speaking engagement included finding outfits buried in boxes and using a small 10” hand mirror to practice with.
Needless to say, while we were happy to be home, we were overwhelmed, and we were tired.
The night before my speaking engagement, I remember my head racing with all that I needed to do and all that I hadn’t yet gotten accomplished. I tried to sleep that evening, but I kept waking up as my body was tired, but my mind was anything but. After the third time suffering from restlessness, I caved in and decided that the sleep I so desperately needed may just not be what I was going to get. So, instead of fighting it, I prayed.
I remember the words vividly that I allowed to run through my mind, re-centering my thoughts to those focused on Him. “Oh Lord, my Redeemer, please be with me right now. I need you now more than ever. Please don’t leave me.” I said those sentences on repeat as if it were my late night’s mantra. It gave me focus and it gave my restlessness purpose. It also, surprisingly, gave me Him.
Unexpectedly I had an immense feeling of peace and something within me told me to open my eyes after saying my prayer many times in a row. As I did, I noticed something on the side of the room that wasn’t there when I went to bed that evening. The corner of the room was filled with piles of cardboard boxes, all meant to be emptied and dismantled once I found time to put all of the clothes away. That time had yet to be found, so instead, it had become a place where clean clothes hung from.
The boxes were still there as were the clothes that I had recently rested upon them. But in front of each was something miraculous. To this day, I still can’t believe that what I saw was what I saw. I first noticed His face, gazing down at the floor, followed by His hair that rested lightly on His shoulders. I blinked several times, sure that my mind was playing games with me, but when I noticed his crown of thorns, I knew that there was no denying what I was seeing. The person I had been praying to was there with me in my room.
I didn’t have time to panic or question what I was seeing, for the moment I confirmed that among my chaos was the man of peace, He delivered a message into my heart … one that I’ll never, ever forget. A few short words encompassed the most beautiful answer to the prayer I had been saying on repeat: “But, I have never left you.”
I had been asking for Him to be by my side, and His message — and His presence — was proof that even in the darkest of nights … even in your most overwhelming moment and times of fear … He has never left you.
That night, as I fell back in and out of sleep, every time I woke up, I looked toward the corner, wondering if what I had seen was a figment of my imagination. To my hearts delight, each time I looked, He remained. He never left me that night … not until the sun had risen and the new day was upon me. Not until then, did He leave. And even then, I was constantly reminded that He didn’t leave me and never, ever would.
For months I kept my experience within me, packed up like one of the moving boxes we used to transport our family from one home to another. I was hoping that the packaging tape I used to keep our clothing safe would also be able to keep my experience intact — free from judgement and questioning. But all boxes are meant to be unpacked, and every experience happens for a reason … and it is not meant to be hoarded.
I don’t know why I saw the face of Jesus that night over other nights. I don’t know why I was the one that saw Him while my husband slept. I don’t know why I was delivered the message that He gave. But I can’t focus on the “whys.” There is no purpose in trying to understand that with which we can’t.
But here is what I do know. I know that no matter how alone you feel, you are never alone. Even in the dark depths of night, He is there. Even in the most chaotic of times, He is there. Through your tears and broken hearts, He is there. Through your worry and fears, He is there. Even when you feel like all is lost, He finds you, deep in the night, and reminds you that He has never and will never leave you.