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From the Bottom to the Banquet (by Sarah Salter)

In addition to classing up my blog a bit, another outcome of Billy Coffey’s Monday posts here has been the introduction to some really good writers via the comments section. Sarah is one such writer. Before she sent me her post, Sarah asked if I wanted something “real”. Oh yeah, I’m all up in real. I love real! Here’s Sarah:

I hit rock bottom thirteen years ago. On Sunday, September 22, 1996 I woke up in Virginia Beach, in a house I’d never seen before, wearing someone else’s clothes. I sat up and watched the mid-morning sun stream through the window of a strange bedroom. For the first time in months, the alcohol, nicotine, and drug-enhanced fog cleared. It was time to go home.

How did I get here? I was a pastor’s daughter and granddaughter and niece and grandniece. I had always gone to church and believed in God. I knew the difference between right and wrong; and believed in doing the right thing. At eleven years old, I had asked Jesus to be my Savior. But now, as I stood in a strange bathroom, smoothing my hair in the mirror, I didn’t recognize this person that I was looking at—and I didn’t like her either.

Going home was a simple thing. Sorta. It was a simple three-hour drive south. But the emotional and spiritual trip was a lot steeper and more treacherous. Like an epic journey of sorts. First, I had to seek the truth about how I had gotten to rock bottom. Then, I had to allow the people in my life to see the truth about me. Honestly, that was the part that terrified me the most. It was hard enough to look in the mirror, take off my mask, and like myself. To then show that dirty, bloody, sweaty face to the world…

I couldn’t do it. At least, not at first. I came back to my parents’ house and threw away my cigarettes, beer, and pills. I started spending more time at church. Got a good church-going boyfriend. Hung out with good church-going friends. I immersed myself in my pseudo-Christian spiritual pool and ignored the real issues. I wasn’t really healing—I was hiding. I was putting another layer of band-aids on my heart, but not letting the Holy Spirit do surgery. Whenever I slowed down, the Holy Spirit would be there whispering to me that He wanted to do more and be more to me. I was afraid of the process—afraid of the pain. And so, I ran.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about a man named Mephibosheth. He was the son of King David’s best friend, Jonathan. When he was a child, he had been dropped by his nurse and was lame in both feet. Because of the strife between King David and King Saul (Mephibosheth’s grandfather), Mephiboheth had lived for years in exile in a desolate country called Lo Debar. But when King David heard that his friend’s crippled son was living in exile, he sent for him and called him to come live in the King’s house and eat at the King’s table like he was a son of the King.

I can identify with Mephibosheth. I was crippled by sin and spent a lot of time in Lo Debar before I finally accepted the invitation to live in the King’s house and eat at the King’s table.

Running three hours north to my non-Christian boyfriend hadn’t healed me when I was eighteen. So, when I was twenty, I ran three hours west to be near my Christian boyfriend. I made this man my idol and determined that his love was going to heal me and give me peace and a purpose. It didn’t work. It couldn’t work. It made the gap between me and God even bigger. And it pulled my boyfriend further away from God, too. We threw away two years on a relationship that was doomed to fail and at the end, I was at rock bottom again. And this time, my life circumstances wouldn’t allow me to go home to my parents’ house to heal. This time, it was just me and God.

I have spent the last ten years walking home from Lo Debar. And my writing—my blog, my guest posts, the magazine articles that I write, and my personal journal—are all parts of the travelogue. I’ve decided that if I’m going to accept the King’s invitation (which I have accepted) to live in His house and sit at His table, I want to take as many people with me as I can.

You can see that I’ve taken my mask off now. It’s something that I have to choose to do on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute basis. When I started writing, I made a promise to God, to myself, and to my readers that no matter what, I would be real with us all. Every time I write, I have to take off my mask and risk getting hurt. But if it helps other to accept the King’s invitation, it’s worth it.

Won’t you join me for the trip? The King is waiting and the banquet is worth it.

To read more from Sarah, visit her at Living between the Lines and follow her on the twitter, @sarahmsalter