” . . . until I entered God’s sanctuary.”–Psalm 73:17a

It has been a dark season, and this morning is horrible. Every fiber of my being feels worthless. There is a heavy feeling of emptiness looming about, threatening to plunge me into the abyss. I am tired, but I don’t dare sleep for when I sleep I dream.

Dream of failure.
Dream of betrayal.
Dream of being invisible.

“Come, let us worship,” your Spirit calls.
I resist.
“Come, taste and see the goodness of the Lord,” your Spirit relentlessly calls again.
I refuse.

Haunted by this conversation, I drag myself into your sanctuary, and plaster a smile on my face. No one must know my secrets. No one must know that I find the call of the abyss seductive. No one must know how I long to be someone else. Someone successful. Someone the world respects. Someone that matters.

Restless I sit in the pew, determined not to participate.
The prelude begins, and I pretend not to hear you call my name.
I feel your presence.
I smell your fragrance.
I exhale, pushing you aside, focused on re-creating myself, determined not to respond to your call.
And then . . .
I breathe.

My breath cascades through me.
I breathe again, this time sensing it is more than my breath.
I inhale deeply.
Rich and regenerative air fills my being.
Healing my brokenness.
Restoring my feelings of worth.
Awakening me to truth as your Love rushes in.

Tears flow freely as you envelope me.
I breathe again, deeply savoring the deliciousness of your presence . . . and I remember.
You have always been here.
Holding me.
Keeping me afloat.
Guiding me.
Offering me refuge and strength.
I am your beloved.

I am in sacred communion, wrapped in your love. My heart calls to you.
“Come, my beloved child,” you beckon in response. “You have not been forgotten. The darkness is hard but I am always with you.”

In the sacredness of the moment, a smile steals across my face.
I have entered God’s sanctuary.

Katrina Stipe Brooks is a campus pastor at Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, Virginia, and youth pastor at Madison Heights Baptist Church, Madison Heights Virginia. A mother of two incredible young adults and spouse of a Baptist General Association of Virginia field strategist and Sunday School specialist, Katrina is senior pastor of InFaith Community, a multi-cultural church that meets on the Lynchburg College campus. One day she will publish all the stories she has to tell, but right now she has to complete the registration process for her first semester as a D.Min. student at McAfee School of Theology.