I remember vividly, it was a mild April evening at the outdoor patio of The Front Street Cafe in Philadelphia’s Fishtown. I sat quietly with Pamela, sipping a margarita and sharing my brutal story of defeat: career, relationship, life. And yet I felt like it was a miracle I was even sitting there that night with her of all people, a complete contradiction of my years of conditioning regarding women; an inkling of a strange, mysterious hope. And that night it seemed like despite the uncertainty and the brokenness, a dust had settled, and this feeling that everything was about to change and become restored for the better crept into my heart and mind from completely outside myself.
I felt like this was it, I had come far enough, I was standing on a ledge and didn’t believe I’d fall. I believed, somehow, strangely, childishly, impractically, contradictory, that I was on the verge of rescue. For a brief moment in time, I was a child standing in a desert in the midst of a painstaking drought, holding an umbrella.
“Maybe this route in life is the way to permanent faith,” I said. “Maybe this is happening now so that soon I’ll look back and have no more doubts, no more distrust, no more unbelief.” The words came relaxed, natural, and calm and as I think back on that night I can hardly believe I uttered them considering my bleak circumstances.
But it was true. It was all true, every last bit of it. Only days later my life turned around completely; a brand new chapter in a brand new place with brand new people. Everything turned around, shattering my expectations and hopes, exceeding everything I could’ve ever envisioned. All was restored and then some. All except her.
Perhaps I wasn’t quite yet the man I needed to become for her or whoever she was. Maybe there were still some lessons to learn, some virtue and integrity and character to be built up in me so I could continue to grow into the man that she’ll need at precisely the right time, if you believe those things. I certainly do because my life is living proof. And besides, no more doubts, right?
The Red Sea was parted right before my eyes, and still disbelief? Me of little faith and anxious human nature, when will I see past it and transcend these limitations to true reality? Am I nearing the edge again? Has the dust settled? Is a beautiful rescue about to swoop in?
At last, peace and trust. Take me back to that night so I never forget it, when everything was unraveled, when the world wasn’t falling apart but falling into place, when I sat there in the company of a beautiful contradiction with faith like a child.