I didn't use to fear his unexpected coming, and I don't now, but I do have to make this strange space for him to step into. I have to expect the unexpected.
Some would say I should fight his hands, close the space, not let him in. I've tried that, and it only makes it worse. In the struggle I lose more breath, I feel even more weak, and paralysis lasts longer.
Yes, for those who have not met him (maybe many?) and for those with whom I have never shared my experience (nearly everyone), that is what he does. He grips firm, and like a vampire sucks breath clear out. The empty lungs leave muscles right weak; it takes all willpower to stand upright. And in all the will to stand, all ability to move is gone, paralyzed. I can only stand. The mind loses all decision making power.
Fork, or spoon? White, or black? Yes, or no?
Please don't ask. I have no idea.
Sometimes he sweeps in like a raider; in and out in a few dashes of the clock. Other times he barges in, and settles himself on the sofa as though he were part of the family. What's really frightening is when you can look back and see him in family photos.
I can't remember when I met him for the first time. I think it was long ago. Maybe when contact with death first invaded my innocence. Maybe when I first tasted unredemption. I don't know for sure, but I do remember when his visits became frequent enough for me to recognize his face.
His visits have become both more and less frequent since then, depending on many different things, many of which I can neither discern nor control. And I've had to learn how to expect him, to leave space for him.
Have you ever observed a baby who is learning to walk? When they fall, they look to an adult to know if they ought to cry. If your face shows shock or worry, they will cry. If it shows indifference, they will decide they are alright.
I cannot express frustration, anger, or sadness. He will react, he will grip harder. That is why fighting doesn't work. So how to get him off the sofa? Out the door? Far away?
I name things. Anything. Everything. It must be named. Faces must be named. Things loved must be named. Feelings must be named.
He must be named. But what? What kind of name will make him leave?
Most people, looking through eyes of flesh and battered hearts, would name him μεριμνα. Merimna. Anxiety, worry, irrational fear. I have known him as this, but that is not a name, it is a chain to bind me. I need freedom from him.
All is grace. Even this. If only I name it right. Only if I name him as a gift.
Διωκοντος. Diokontos. One who preses. This is his name. He is simply one who presses me into Jesus. He pushes me back where I belong. He pursues me to the arms of my Saviour. He cripples and paralyzes so that my God can move. He steals my breath to make room for Holy Spirit wind. He grips tight to me so that I will grip tight to Christ. One who presses, that is all. He cannot be one who crushes. I did not give him that name.
So I name him as a gift, something I can breathe thanks for. And. I. Breathe. Again.
I don't fight. I just name the gift, breathe thanks for it, and he leaves, and I breathe again.
He can't stand in the face of the thankful wind, the thanksgiving breath that renames him.
When he comes out of nowhere I can be shocked into thanks, because I know his name. Diokontos. Grace. One who presses me to the grace-Giver.
And I remember my name. Elsie Anne. Consecrated by the grace only He gives. I'm glad to be pressed there, because only then do I become more of me. More of grace. Because of His grace in the gifts He allows me to name I can become the gift He intends for me to be.
And Diokontos, he still grips, but there is space for him, and I expect, anticipate, the gift.
Sometimes it takes a name, but it's true:
All. Is. Grace.