WHEN THE STABLE aircraft made its final descent through the broken clouds, I observed the rocky landscape surrounding the calmness of the Atlantic Ocean. With each measured kilometer dropped I could almost hear the harmonic waves pushing up against the shore. It’s only desire was to move forward and gracefully flow as intended. It was such a serene scene I didn’t even realize how close I was to returning home.
Once the plane found the movable bridge, the others stood up in an outright panic itching to get off the mechanical bird. Each one frantically looked for their luggage and pushed their way to the front as if sudden flames engulfed the plane. Since we had a child and two small animals, we decided to wait patiently for the others, not to disturb their journey home.
With only a handful of passengers waiting we moved toward the cockpit. I looked upon the same inner doorway I entered hours before. Walking through in the opposite direction, I couldn’t feel the resistance that accompanied my previous thoughts. I walked gracefully up the widened corridor and left my worries behind the clouds of yesterday.
We soon found ourselves standing together at the top of the escalator about to make our way to the ground floor. I just had to take one step onto the endless staircase to bring me to my intended destination. The metal stairs circled in a continuous motion from the bottom to the top as each successive level revealed itself. I tried to put my inside foot on the next available step but as soon as I hesitated the next step approached.
I would let three steps slide under my foot before I felt comfortable enough to place both feet down and let the energy in motion guide me to the level desired. I saw my family waiting at the bottom as the continuous movement of each step elevated my anticipation.
I desperately wanted to embrace my family but kept two feet firmly planted on the staircase to absorb the warm smiles growing. The preliminary steps disappeared and made their way back to the top to find the next passenger looking to make their journey down. Although I hesitated to place both feet on this endless staircase, I realized what I desperately wanted to hold couldn’t be touched from the top. I had to go to the bottom to find what I was looking for first.
After the long strenuous flight, it was great to embrace our families. From parents, grandparents, bothers, and sisters, each one holding their distinct glow of comfort and unconditional love. My daughter was so excited she ran back and forth unsure who might have the yummiest candy.
After I grabbed my airtight bags and made my way to the parking lot, I caught a genuine feeling of excitement as a new chapter was about to be written. The easterly rainfall tapped me on the shoulders as I waited for the others to follow me through the door.
Unknowingly I dropped my baggage on the concrete sidewalk and tilted my head toward the dull sky. For a split second, I could feel the quiet rainfall on my moistened skin. With my family approaching from a distance I exhaled into the sky and knew I wasn’t alone.
We were grateful that a family friend was letting us stay at his rental house until we figured out our next move. There was no loud music playing on the radio as we found the open highway, but I could intuitively feel the warm sounds of a song flapping around my mind.
As we arrived at the front door, our family helped bring in our luggage, and we spent the afternoon reconnecting and reminiscing.
When the night sky approached, and the last member made their way home, my wife and I looked at each other in utter shock. We couldn’t believe that our journey was complete, and we were standing on native soil.
We still needed to find work, new possessions and make daycare arrangements among dozens of other small details. The last couple of months we spent preparing to make our journey home but now that we arrived there were so many mixed emotions.
My wife and I developed a lengthy to-do list that seemed like a never-ending story. Sitting in our new surroundings, I could feel the tide changing once again. The overwhelming opposition wanted reinsurance, but I refused to let my face show the worry I thought was left in the clouds.
The brief honeymoon was ending, and the real world was staring us in the face. All the fears that sat with me at the kitchen table months before followed me home even though I stood miles from where they originated.
My wife was fortunate enough to get offered a job and although it wasn’t exactly the opportunity she was hoping for she decided to give it a shot.
We spent a few weeks gathering all the essentials that we needed and started to shuffle through the fifty plus boxes stacked in the basement. Some things we found easily and others we had to dig to the bottom to wrap our hands around.
After tossing out a few resumes and attending a few interviews, I had a couple of different sales roles offered to me. It was about half what I was making in my last position, but I was grateful for the opportunity.
We sat down and talked about the two offers and the possibility of going away for training. My wife could sense it wasn’t the direction I wanted to take even though I made every indication I would do what was needed.
I had a small consulting business, and some savings tucked away but questioned if it would be enough to sustain the extra expenses that were accumulating. Discussing the different scenarios, my wife said something that reminded me of the decision I made when I stared into the hypnotic sunrise months before.
“We all have days when we question ourselves, but we can get through it, so go write, and we will find a way.”
Coming from my wife, this seemed out of the ordinary. The only time she ever gave me this type of inspiration and motivation is when I was struggling. Most days she battled her own disease-ridden demons bordering her personality and peace. However, the days when I needed to fight my demons she always seemed to find inner strength.
During that first month, I was not only able to spend my days playing dress up with my daughter but was able to put the finishing touches on my book. I got the interior layout finished, developed some marketing material and sent the last tweaks to the editor. I spent hours every morning before sunrise sending my book to anyone that would read it.
I contacted and forwarded my book to hundreds of influencers and publishers through their websites and social media pages. I was desperately searching for support, but only a couple of people even respond to my requests. I thought back to all the countless articles I consumed explaining the difficulties of trying to get published and recognized as a first-time author.
I was staying positive, but the lack of responses weighed heavily on my ambitions. I checked my email every morning, but the empty inbox was extremely discouraging. I continued reading and listening to any piece of inspirational material that could lift my simulated hope, but it was sinking fast. One minute I was full of creative inspiration and the next I was fighting my depression.
Making supper one night, I decided to reach deep into my phone and find anything that could bring my faith back to surface. I randomly clicked on videos with no real intention but to find an authentic voice that could resurrect my dream.
Doubt was digging hard into my restless soul trying to unearth my weaknesses. With the swift blow of its sickening blade, I could feel my heart sinking to the bottom. All the love that I found trapped itself on the other side of my reoccurring depression.
It felt like I was sitting in the middle of a shallow ocean on a rowboat without any oars to help guide my forward progression. I was reaching my hand into the polluted water on both sides of the leaky boat trying to push the water behind me.
I was working so hard to move the vessel, but my arms were tired as I inched toward the shore. I was searching for a sheltered beach to bring me peace but could only see the distance against the wind.
When I finally placed the frozen chicken nuggets in the oven and the interview I was watching ended, another video emerged on my phone. It was a man reading from a book by David Allen called the Power of I am. I didn’t pay much attention to it at first, but as I turned on the stainless-steel oven, I heard the narrator say a combination of words that instantly caught my attention.
“I am is the name of God.”
Over the last few months, I heard about the importance of the words I am when describing a potential state you wanted to experience. I was even using this idea when I envisioned the person I wanted to become. Before that moment God never entered the equation. I listened to the first chapter and then immediately put on the second and third chapters.
I was so intrigued I completely forgot about the frozen entre I just put under the heated elements. I rushed to find the oven mitt and pulled out the charred nuggets.
When my daughter asked me what we were having for supper, I wasn’t sure how to respond. I was staring at a pan of indigestible food and trying to comprehend what I heard.
Was I announcing the presence of God within me when I used these two words?
For thirty-seven years I never felt connected to God in any way other than watching my favorite athletes thank God in a few post-game interviews.
As the narrator quoted scripture, I started to hear some of the same things I had been researching. I was trying to incorporate these same philosophical concepts into my own life but had no idea these theories existed in an outdated book I had hiding in my sock drawer.
The bible was never a book I thought about picking up at my local bookstore, but with God presented to me in this light, I began to question everything. Was I missing a big piece of the puzzle? Was the image of God given to me as a child completely wrong? Does the spirit of God really exist in my thoughts and the words I speak?
After tucking my family safely in their beds, I listened to the final chapters. The central ideas around my connection to God consumed my thoughts while I stayed up until the late hours reading and listening to others who expressed this same belief.
Later in the week, I got an unexpected phone call from my mom. My grandmother had called her earlier that day because our church reverend requested that our family take part in Sunday service. Included was a scripture reading from someone in our family.
Over the years I gave numerous readings at weddings and special occasions, so my grandmother requested I join the family. When my mom asked me to be the one to read that Sunday a smile accompanied my look of disbelief.
I only attended church once in thirteen years, and I just visited that one time because I told my grandparents I would have my daughter baptized in the name of the Lord. Thirteen years is a long time, but the timing of this request seemed to perfect to pass up.
That Sunday walking the staircase I heard the church bells ringing in my ears. Although I wasn’t a religious man, I walked through the door with an open mind that didn’t exist a few days before. My family and I sat in the pews as I looked over my reading for the third time.
When I walked to the podium, I got a little nervous and frightened by the eyes of the crowd piercing into my soul. It’s like they knew I didn’t belong. I can’t recall the reading but remember the ease that each word rolled off my tongue. When I rejoined my family, I sat with my hands on my knees with a quiet curiosity growing behind my newly discovered eyes.
I continued to explore this relationship with God over the next few weeks before I got another phone call from my mom. The news wasn’t so perfect this time because my grandfather was rushed to the hospital after he had some complications with his medications. I knew my grandfather wasn’t doing well over the last year and it was a contributing factor in my desire to move home.
I visited him many times over the years at the hospital, so making my way up to see him, I wasn’t overly concerned. My only objective was to see him smile, so I spent the next couple of hours joking around with the family sitting nearby and reminiscing about when I was a kid.
My father left when I was a toddler, so my grandfather raised me as his son and taught me so much about the importance of family and how to be a loving father. We never had a lot growing up, but the love of family was never lacking.
Looking in from the outside I knew his body was preparing for departure, but I could still see the light inside of him that resembled a newborn child as he smiled from ear to ear.
Cracking a few more jokes at my grandfather’s expense, I noticed an older woman walking through the room holding a frayed bible. She immediately caught my attention, so I asked her who she was looking for that day.
She was the reverend on duty visiting sick patients around the hospital. My grandfather’s name was next on the list, and she wanted to check in to see how he was doing. My grandfather and I chatted with her for a few minutes before she made her way to the fifth floor.
When she left, I couldn’t help thinking about the ideas that were flying around in my mind, so I instinctively got up from the swivel chair and followed her to the elevator. When I finally tracked her down and placed my hand on her shoulder, I asked her the question that was burning a hole in my mind.
“What do the words I am that I am mean to you?”
She looked at me with an amused grin and purposely stayed silent as the surprised look on her face became expressive. She didn’t hesitate and replied.
“I am is the name of God my son.”
We talked for three long minutes before I headed back to check on my old man. When I walked back into the room and saw the innocent smile still resting on his wrinkled face, I fully realized that I am truly grateful I could experience this moment with my grandfather.