On Sewer Water and Despair

I am currently standing on the metaphorical edge of my despair cliff. And it isn’t pretty. I need to be studying for an exam I take on Monday that determines if I can continue pursuing a career in medicine. I am a first year resident or intern, which for those of you who have not watched Grey’s Anatomy or Scrubs or have actually done it yourself, is not what you would call an easy year of medical training. My faith—a weak, strong-willed 7-year-old—is at an all-time low. Church is a chore. Prayer is ghastly. My community feels absent and, when present, hostile.

Oh, and as it happened, our sewer line backed up ten days ago and our landlord has dragged his feet to the point that we have no water and our basement reeks of sewage and mold.

I have one foot off the metaphorical edge of my despair cliff.


My pride interferes with my asking for help. Guys, I am writing this blog post because I committed to being on the blog writing rotation and, darn it, I am someone who follows through on her commitments even though she has spent at least three of the last 10 days sopping up sewer water from her house while working 80 hour work weeks and trying despondently to prepare for this stupid two-day test.

What do I do? “Jump,” a little voice—a familiar one—whispers, “Fall into your despair.”

A louder voice (only louder cause we are sitting next to each other on the couch, his face a little too close to my ear) says, “Hey Becky, whatever comes…”

Whatever comes. A stank, stale waft of air hits my face. Whatever comes.

“Whatever comes” has become a mantra of sorts in our marriage. On our wedding day, Brent and I (along with some other people who were also there) sang “In Feast or Fallow,” one of my favorite hymns (not only because it has a great banjo part) but also because it reminds us that some days we get to celebrate harvest feasts and other days fallow (or barren or unfruitful) ground. And that is the nature of our existence—highs and lows. No matter what, though, no matter what comes, we as the people of God will endure, which prompts the mantra of the song: Whatever comes, we shall endure. Whatever comes, we shall endure.

It was lucky—err, providential?—that we picked that song at our wedding. Over the years, it has become our refrain. On vacation as the sunsets over the mountain. In the middle of tearful, aggressive fights. While we sip good scotch. As we shed tears over theses and patients and papers and tests and sewer water.

“Hey Becky, whatever comes.”

I can’t finish the refrain. Not today. But it is a voice in the darkness that surrounds the cliff and the rain (it is always proverbially raining on my metaphorical cliff. Isn’t it on yours?).

It is a small reminder. Like the ones on Sunday when I sit angry in the audience, angry at myself, angry at my church, angry at God for this world he created.

“Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.” It breaks me. It does not matter if I am celebrating life or eeking through this barren land. Christ will come again.

I am currently standing on the metaphorical edge of my despair cliff. And I have been there for a while. I am depending solely on the mantras of my faith. The simple words and phrases pull me back a step or two. The use of showers (did I mention that we found out our water wasn’t working this last time right after returning from a 5-mile jog?) from friends who open up their home and desks grants me another one. Then there’s good music. And long days of exhilarating work. And brilliant sunsets. And the million other subtle reminders that surround me that whisper God is believable and beautiful that break through this haze I am trapped in.

I am currently standing near the metaphorical edge of my despair cliff. But I am surrounded by mantras of my faith. And there is hope.

Whatever comes.
Whatever comes.
Whatever comes.
Christ will come again.