Only the Unshakeable Remains

“All that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains.”

-Clives Staples Lewis

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the past year. With all of it’s tragedies and victories, with every memory that either haunts me or fills me with joy. For weeks, my minds has been racing (which is always inconvenient around exam time) with no sign of slowing down. Last week as I was in my bed finding it difficult to sleep, I began shuffling through all the boxes I brought back with me from school. (I wrote an entry about those at the beginning of the year, too.)

It’s an interesting feeling, looking at a nicely packaged summary of the year. This particular box had all my wall decorations in it, and as I ruffled through pictures and thumb tacks and album covers, I found a lot of the notes I’d received throughout the year. As I read through them again, I began crying with joy at the friendships I’d been blessed with and the beautiful, godly people I’d met over the course of these last 4 years.

I came across a card I’d received at the beginning of the year. Inside the card, there was no name to let me know who sent it to me, but I was overjoyed at what this person had to say. Reassuring me time and time again, and when I desired affirmation, I didn’t realize it but God supplied that through those who knew how to love me and did so unashamedly.

As I continued to pull out memories and joys, my hands came across Jordan’s funeral pamphlet. I relived that day all over again. With tears spilling, I remembered sitting in the pews surrounded by the best men I’ve ever met. I remember speaking about Jordan’s friendship and crumbling into the arms of Paul, Scott, and Katrina. We all fell apart together that day. And I remember carrying his body across the cemetery I so often visit, past every headstone, every name I’ve begun to memorize by walking through there so much. I remembered the pain, but I remembered the joy I’d experienced, as well. I remember laughing around the table at the reception. I remember seeing Thomas again all those nights following Jordan’s death and hugging my brother who’d finally come back to us after so long away. And I remembered her. I remembered watching her try to sing the words to the familiar hymn at the graveside service, but I watched the words get caught in her throat. And I remembered the emergency room what seemed like ages ago. And I remembered what betrayal felt like. And I remember that was one of the few times I ever saw Jordan cry.

I looked across the room in the closet and saw the old blue box, now rusting, where I used to keep all of my memories.

photo (11)

The once vivid blue paint over the metal box is chipping now, revealing the rust underneath. The lock was broken long ago, so I stuck an ink pen into the hole and wiggled it until it broke free. And I dug and dug through memories from middle and early high school. The trinkets I’d collected were the same as they were when I’d put them there years earlier. I ran across a note I wrote to myself in that familiar writing style I used to have, stating the obvious at every turn with the  vocabulary of a child. I wrote of my problems and frustrations, the secrets I kept and the sins that hounded me that I never thought I would be free of. I wrote about them in a very clean, polished, removed way, as to avoid actually facing any of them. And I wrote about my love for that one Carrie Underwood song everybody always talked about….my how times have changed. And I addressed the letter to “Self.” Ended it with with a desperate plea that the next time I read this letter, things would be 100 times better.

So, it had probably been 7 years since I wrote that. I sat in amazement, realizing I had just read something I’d written to myself 7 years ago…I hadn’t thought about that letter in almost a decade. And so I did what any incredibly introspective and insomnia ridden human being would do…I wrote back.

Unlike the Stephen of my youth, I wrote in excruciating detail the events that unfolded in the years after I’d written that letter to myself. I didn’t hold back on any secrets, feelings, regrets…I bared all in an attempt to make sense of the last 7 years of my life. And as I wrote, things became clearer and I saw the world without the rose colored lenses I’d grown so accustomed to. And in my story, I saw the hand of God moving. I saw Jesus, the only desirable thing in me slowly but surely becoming the only thing I desire.

I saw my life fall apart and come back stronger in the arms of the One who is stronger than I am. And every moment I cried for some kind of clarity came running back. And though I have not arrived as someone who has all the answers, I was finally beginning to see the truth. I finally saw my life for what it was: a precious gift that is totally and completely out of my control, and was only safe in the arms of someone stronger than myself. I was moved to write and write and write until I saw God work. And I did. Lastly, this is what came out when reflecting on my life:

I have kept all my gods close to my heart,

I have held them to my chest 

Drank them in between heavy sighs and staggered breaths. But I relinquish them to your all consuming power,

And to the wonders of your awe inspiring love.

Breathe on me, Holy Spirit

And turn all my trophies to dust.

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Author: panicpreacherpanic

I am not good.

3 thoughts on “Only the Unshakeable Remains”

  1. Stephen, your strength is encouraging and your trust in the Lord is beautiful. I am praying for you as you continue to journey down this road! I love you dude!

  2. I remember singing the hymn and looking up to see you with tears in your eyes, staring straight back at me and I broke down, grabbing the girl’s hand beside me, though I’d only met her twice. I couldn’t get through the words, they felt fake. It all felt fake. I remember the stories people shared, of Jordan leading them to be saved, and all I could think was that he LITERALLY saved my life. Scooped me up off the floor, and rushed me to the hospital, having to slap me in the face every few seconds to keep me awake, squeezing my hand to make sure I would stay that way. I remember he didn’t start crying until my Aunt whispered something in his ear, something I still have yet to find out, and as she leaned back he slowly hung his head and began to cry, reaching for my hand. I visited him 4 times after the funeral- before I moved- Never staying long, because the thought of one of you seeing me there bawling was too much. I remember jumping at any car I saw coming up that hill. Holding my breath and hoping they didn’t stop in the same corner as me. I relive the day often, even though I wish I didn’t. He saved my life, literally saved my life, and he no longer has his. I will never understand, but I will always be grateful.

    1. I don’t really have the words to respond to this. But I’m grateful that you wrote. Thank you for being honest. Thanks for reaching out. I miss you very much and still care a whole lot about you. I don’t have much use for Furtick or Elevation these days, but I kept the book you sent me, sometimes I still read the note you put in the back. I know you’re in a different place than you were back then, but I am thankful you thought of me. I hope you’re well wherever you are. Jordan loved you very much, and I love you very much. And no matter all that’s transpired, I am really thankful you were part of my life.

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