There was a bench that I used to sit on, all by myself.  It was tucked away at the bottom of a little hill and perfectly overlooked the water.

I had one hour to enjoy this bench every day.  One hour over lunch, when I could escape the confines of the office building that was holding me hostage.  One hour when I could to turn off the devices that were keeping me chained to a place that I hated.

This bench was my safe haven.  This bench was my sanctuary.  This bench was everything.

Often times, I would grab a coffee and read a book during that hour.  Other times I would write in my journal as the light perfectly fell across the blank pages.

And sometimes, I would just look out at the lake and beg for a way out…brutally aware that in mere minutes, I would have to return to a world that was sucking the soul out of me.

At the time, I was in one of the darkest times of my life.

I was in a profession that I didn’t like.  I was being emotionally abused in the work place.  I was commuting terribly long hours.  I was throwing up on a daily basis. And everything was suffering because of it; my health, my relationships, my happiness.

Even under far less severe conditions, I believe that we instinctively know when we are living lives that don’t fit our spirits.  We know when we have missed a turn somewhere.  And we know when we are headed in the wrong direction.

I knew.

I had always known.

But I was afraid.  I was depleted.  I was sinking.

And I didn’t know what to do next.

The months that followed were some of the most challenging that I’ve ever encountered.  But in that time, something happened…

A slow but steady sequence of events happened that would eventually lead me to a place of healing…of peace…and of joy.

But more importantly, it was a place that couldn’t have existed had I not been where I was at the time…as difficult as that place may have been.

We are always told how important it is to let go of the past.

To forgive.  To move on.  To be free of the clutches that once held us captive.

And I agree.

But, this one.  This one, I hold on to.

I hold onto it because it reminds me.

It reminds just how drastically God can turn our circumstances around.  It reminds me how much the darkness can used for light.  It reminds me that one place is never the only place.

There is more road to walk.  More turns to make.  More life to live.

And when that life starts to feel confusing again.  Or halted.  Or misguided.  I often catch myself going back to that bench.  I will sit there and I will cry and I will remember that my pleas didn’t fall on deaf ears.

They never do.

My job was simply to be patient.  To keep praying.  And to do my part.

The rest was happening. While I endured. While I pressed on. While I spent an hour a day crying out to the heavens for a light that I couldn’t see.

Sitting in faith while life seems scary and uncertain can be a really hard thing to do.  And to be honest, after all that I’ve witnessed and all that I’ve experienced…I still find it a hard thing to do sometimes.

Because I forget.

I forget that I can choose wonder over worry…faith over fear…trust over turmoil.

I forget that a miracle has already happened.

And that’s why I have a park bench overlooking the water.

So I can be reminded that even through the hardest of times…there was a plan in place…a path to find…a rising to come.

So I can be reminded that for all the times that I thought it was just me and that bench…I was never really sitting there alone at all.
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