The Weight of It All

I know it’s going to be a rough day when, within five minutes of leaving my house, I see a blue, mid-nineties Grand Am.

It’s a rather odd thing to say, I realize, as I’m sure if you see a blue, mid-nineties Grand Am you probably don’t give it a second thought.

For me, a blue, mid-nineties Grand Am reminds me of him.

The one I trusted.

The one I loved.

The one, who I thought, loved me.

But it wasn’t a real love, the way he loved me.

It was a twisted “love” that made me believe it was okay for a man – a pastor – of his age, nearly ten years my senior, to love a girl like me…a sixteen year old.

He drove a blue, mid-nineties Grand Am.

Fortunately, many American cars don’t make it past their tenth birthday, so a blue, mid-nineties Grand Am sighting is a rare occurrence, but when I caught a glimpse of one as I pulled onto I-65 yesterday morning, I knew it was going to be a bad day.

Instantly, I was pulled back into a time warp of my heart. I was 16 again. And 17. And I found myself innocently in love, and at the same time, unknowingly losing my innocence.

I steered my car mindlessly to the mall. A distraction.

I needed socks.

Wandering into Eddie Bauer, I ended up in a rather long conversation with a chatty salesman. He wasn’t trying to sell me anything. He was just really nice. And really conversational. I welcomed the distraction, but felt badly for not being fully present.

Most of me was still back in 1996.

I lost an hour in the mall, and popped over to Target. For what? I don’t remember, but I walked out with a cheap T-shirt.

More distraction.

I managed to swing by the post office, make it home, and get ready for a meeting with my manager about my new book’s release.

Still, I was only half-present.

That damned Grand Am.

How can it still take me back?

Back there…with him?

I felt sick to my stomach.

After my meeting, I drove back to Target.

Cat litter. I forgot the cat litter.

With my iPod on shuffle, I got lost in the winding roads of rural Franklin. An hour passed. Maybe two.

I couldn’t find myself.

Back to my house.

I attempted to make myself look presentable.

Honestly, I wanted to bail so badly.

I wanted to throw on some sweats and stare mindlessly at the television for hours until I fell asleep and it was a new day. But I had committed myself to doing the Blood:Water Mission Water Walk.

I love Blood:Water.

You guys know that.

But I didn’t want to go.

I didn’t want my half-present, half-missing self to go.

Selfishly, of course.

I didn’t want anyone to know anything was wrong.

I didn’t want anyone to realize I wasn’t really there.

I didn’t want anyone to look too deeply into my eyes and see the vulnerable, ashamed, naive sixteen year old who was currently inhabiting my insides.

But…I needed to go.

I needed to pull what was left of me out of my head and just do something outside of my own self-consuming and destructive introspection.

I don’t even remember the ride. I took my buckets, ran into some friends, and shared some good stories as we walked a mile down to the river to fill them up.

More distractions. It was good.

At the river, after everyone had filled their containers with river water, Dan told us for our walk back, to try and keep silent.

“Silence? No…anything but that, please,” I pleaded in my head.

And, he added, we should try and keep the water inside since if we were really African, every drop of water that’s carried is a drop of precious life.

The first fifty steps or so were easier than I imagined.

With each step though, the bucket became heavier.

The wind, colder.

Keeping balance in order to not spill the water, more difficult.

I stared down at my bucket, watching the water float back and forth and side to side.


The weight of the water – this small act I was doing simply to represent a necessary and daily time consuming task for so many people around the world – had transported me back from 1996.

I became present again.


Here and now.

And my bucket felt so much heavier.

I lost track of where my friends went. I took off my mittens to experience the sharp pain of the cold wind.

I wanted to feel the pain.

It wasn’t fair what these women and children had to do every single day.

I tried to imagine carrying a bucket ten times heavier than mine for ten times longer than I carried it.


How do they do it?

It wasn’t fair.

It’s water.

Why is it so difficult for hundreds of millions of people to access it?

I realize the goal of these events isn’t about what they can do for me. It’s about what we can do for others. And I don’t know what it was about the mile back carrying a small bucket of Tennessee water but something inside me healed.

Something inside me was restored.

Just a little bit.

But that little bit was just enough.

Was it the community around me? A blend of friends, acquaintances and strangers coming together in such a powerful way?

Was it simply pushing myself to pull out of the selfish cycle of negativity I had been dwelling in all day?

Was it realizing a common, broken thread of humanity and a same common need for rescue?

I don’t know.

Maybe it was all of those things, and things I didn’t even see or feel or realize.

But something happened underneath the weight of it all.

The weight of my past and the most broken part of my soul.

The weight of poverty and the most broken part of the world.

Redemption only can be recognized when the broken is let out.

And it can happen unexpectedly.

And I am grateful.

The reality is 325 million Africans don’t have access to clean water. That is more than the population of the US. $25 provides an African clean water for life. Please take a moment and consider making a donation here.

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59 thoughts on “The Weight of It All

  1. thanks for sharing this, Anne. as i sit at my desk at work and drink my Starbucks, i am reminded how often (sadly) we can drift into a “self-referenced” mode of living – outwardly and in our thought life. been there, done that.

    good to come back to the “other referenced” mode, yes? :)

  2. Thanks so much for sharing Anne. I really needed this reminder and the transparency. Aside from the bigger picture of what was written (which is huge), the following also resonated with me…”Redemption only can be recognized when the broken is let out.”

    Thanks again. May the Lord continue to grant you grace and healing and the opportunities to pour it out as a blessing to others.
    .-= Christie´s last blog ..Re-Post (Simply Because It’s Still On My Mind) =-.

  3. i am sorry the enemy would use a damned grand am (and the associated memories) to try and distract you from your mission. but i am thankful for God’s ability to swoop in with clarity and purpose. praying for you today and always. love you.
    .-= Crystal Renaud´s last blog ..What Would Jesus Email? =-.

  4. It seems like something out of a science fiction movie, doesn’t it? You step on something and are whisked away in a time warp and can’t figure out how to get back….

    …and service – being present to others pain today – nearly always proves to be the portal.

    Thanks Anne
    .-= beth kolar´s last blog ..Something to say =-.

  5. I can hardly type for the tears. I have found myself on that journey, too — back to the past. Back to a hotel room where I shouldn’t have been, back to words that shouldn’t have been spoken — back to innocence lost.

    Thank you for showing me a better way out of the funk those visits to the past put me in.

    And, Anne, one day, the junker won’t matter quite so much. Really. One day it will lose its power to carry you anywhere. And you will rejoice.
    .-= Faye´s last blog ..A Wing or a Prayer? =-.

  6. My “old car” is, unfortunately, more visible in my life. If I am not vigilant, I find myself in that dark hole for days before and after family gatherings. It takes much self-discipline to stop the pain, to go beyond, to remind myself that I choose to forgive and stop myself from bitterness. I’m 51 and still working on it. It’s a few steps forward, and then a few back sometimes. It’s mostly forward though, and it began to move in that direction when I purposed in my heart that I would face the situation and then move forward, that I would no longer surrender to pain.

    I know that bitterness and unforgiveness are an abcess in my heart. In the end, they only hurt ME. I have the power to choose freedom. I have the power to choose love. And so I choose.

    Blessings to you Anne, for your transparency. You have overcome. You will continue to overcome. And in your doing, you are helping countless others take those hard steps toward freedom.

  7. Thanks for your dead level honesty. For you, it was a Grand Am. For me, it was a Thunderbird. The story much the same. Just want to encourage you that healing comes…in the deepest of places. God’s timing and ways. One day I believe you will see a Grand Am and laugh at the days to come, knowing God has brought you through the greatest of pain to see HIM more clearly and know His love is never manipulative. Press into it. I admire you!

  8. Reminds me something Henry Nouwin wrote about in his book “the Desert Fathers”
    He talked a man that was a very wise follower of Christ, spent most of his time in the desert. The village that he was apart of though had a moral problem. They caught a women in adultery. They went out to the desert father to ask him to come and give some advice on what to do with the women. The desert father came into the village and grabbed a bucket that had cracks in it and filled it up with water and then walked to where they were having the town meeting. As he walked the water spilled out of the bucket. Someone asked him why he was caring a bucket with holes in it? He said that the cracks represented his life and the water represented grace that was spilling out.

    Your story reminds me of the grace that i am given but not always giving.

  9. I identify with this so much, because a similar thing happens to me every so often. I look at my life and I think about how different things might be today, if I could change a few things. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in that.

    Sometimes I wish I would just forget. But, at the same time, it is that knowledge that is pushing me to live more intentionally now.

    I know I can’t change the past, but I can change the future. And if there is one thing I want to keep out of my future, it is regret.

    Thanks for sharing, Anne.
    .-= dubdynomite´s last blog ..Troubleshooting Life =-.

  10. Wow.

    The influences of our past tear apart of future so easily. We are consumed by what was.

    It is stats like these (The reality is 325 million Africans don’t have access to clean water.) that make me angry. Of how something so accessible and taken for granted here is wanting in places like Kenya, India, Uganda… Makes me want to say bad things and throw other things.
    .-= Prudence´s last blog ..I’ve Never Done This Before =-.

  11. Thanks for sharing. I hate those days when you just have to fake it, and avoid eye contact. It’s so the opposite of everything God is.

    It’s still amazing to me the way God uses things we didn’t want to do in the first place to bring something we need.

  12. “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,
    but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

    Your soul was quenched :)
    .-= Reading Rosie´s last blog ..Just As I Am…Loved Unconditionally =-.

  13. My pastor says, “A broken heart can never be filled, only healed.” It’s true. I’m happy you’re reaching for the healing, when filling that painful place seems the natural thing to do. Your brutal honesty is refreshing and challenging. Thank you.
    .-= Emily Sutherland´s last blog ..Being An Original =-.

  14. The problem with what’s broken inside is that it stays broken. The sharp corners keep biting into you at the worst possible moments.

    If “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” (a phrase I hate, but that’s another story), then that place where all the broken moments of our lives is his playground.

    He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Sharp edges cut … destroy.

    Some would say that those broken edges will eventually wear down. That’s true, but only if they rub against something equally hard or harder.

    In other words, get a hard heart, and the broken bits won’t hurt as much.

    They’re still broken, but they stop hurting.

    Take them out, though, and the Master can smooth the edges, rebuild something new out of the pieces. The broken can become UNbroken.

    I’m reminded of Mike & Pam Rosell, the two behind the Potter’s Field Ministries. They tour across the country (currently here in Florida) with their program. Mike starts out with a lump of clay that has been out of water for 24 hours. It’s literally a rock. He says he has to grind it into powder and let it soak in water again before it will become useful again.


    Sorry for the babbling, Anne, but all this just started flowing from my fingers & my heart as I started typing.
    .-= Joe Sewell´s last blog ..Taking the Bible Literally =-.

    • Wonderful analogy .. leave it broken inside a hard shell and it will remain broken, sharp and ready to hurt. Take it out, smooth it up, rebuild it: make it useful.

      I’m working on that!
      .-= Jan´s last blog ..God is GOOD! =-.

  15. “Redemption only can be recognized when the broken is let out. And it can happen unexpectedly. And I am grateful.”

    i get that. my brokenness came spewing out like a volcanic eruption recently. it wasn’t pretty. it wasn’t neat. it didn’t feel “christ-like.” yet when it was all over, i realized i’d never been closer to GOD than that moment. i finally feel like a whole person again. and i, too, am grateful. very grateful.
    .-= hope hammond´s last blog ..another lesson on perspective =-.

  16. It is when the weight of our personal burden is on our shoulders, that we find that we empathize with the weight on other people’s shoulders. It’s the bitter beauty of the process, isn’t it?
    .-= Melinda´s last blog ..Was He Correct? =-.

  17. Without the experience of carrying the horrific weight, we’ll never know the joy and release and freedom when it is finally lifted.

    Either because He’s lifted it … or we’re finally able to put it all down at His feet.

    He knows what it’s like to carry a heavily laden cross …
    .-= Linda Stoll´s last blog ..Embracing Suffering =-.

  18. I read your story and had the overwhelming urge to give you a hug… so here is is {{hugs}}

    thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability. My God bless you and continue to heal your wounds. He is using you to do amazing things even while you are a work in progress – as we all are.

  19. Thanks for being so transparent. I’m sorry your day started bad…and am so thankful for God bringing peace, healing and perspective into things. Have you posted about your past hurtful relationship? Our stories sounded similar and am sure a glimpse into the past pain can continue to bring strength and wisdom to others.

    • I haven’t really yet (I did a long time ago, yeaarrrs ago, but needed to remove them for some external reasons. However, in the new book I do share very candidly and more indepth about that situation, and how that led to other situations…..yadda yadda….I do plan on sharing more on here about that though soon.

  20. …an old white pick-up… reminds me of him.

    then i stopped taking my meds – and finally admitted it outloud this week. and promised to start taking them again today. after being in so much internal pain I wanted to feel it.

    …then i get a letter from my newest compassion child. and i am reminded of how wealthy we really are – even if he is infinitely richer than i am.

    thank you for your openness and heart.
    .-= Chris K´s last blog ..Being Blessed =-.

  21. God’s love and comfort is greater than any pain we suffer–He promises to wipe the tears off our faces. Look how much God has blessed you since that time of trial. As we let the painful past go (because that’s why Jesus died on the cross), we pick the joy of His power and His strength. His absolute love is more than enough!
    .-= patriciazell´s last blog ..#35 THE DOING OF BELIEVING: TRUTH =-.

  22. You presented the struggle so well in this post. Pain, the quest for pain relief, and the breaking in of God as you poured yourself out for others. Very powerful. Thank you. And, as a Pastor, I am so sorry that someone who should have protected you and loved you well, took advantage of their power and position and caused you such pain.

  23. I can relate to the car thing (oldsmobile intrigue). I’m so glad God was able to push you through in serving others and that there was some relief on the other side. Suddenly, my not drinking coffee for a few more days doesn’t seem quite so bad. :) Love you so dearly, girl!

  24. Anne, there was a lot of pain in your writing. You sounded alone and isolated. You do not have to bear things like this by yourself. Everyone should have a close group of safe friends of their same sex that they can open up and be real with. This is the type of thing that you should be able to call one of these safe friends and admit that you are struggling with it. They, in return, would empathize and love you and help you get through it. That is one of the things that we, as Christians, are called to do.

    God made us to be relational. Life has too many ups and downs to walk it alone. We all need both God and this group of safe friends to help us along our journey.

    I hope you have a close group of safe friends you rely on. They need you and you need them. If you do not have this group of safe friends then, please, make it a priority to develop it.

  25. Thanks, Anne, for sharing authentically. I am amazed at how the act of service can pull us out of the cycle of self-focus. I am also amazed that we Americans can complain about anything when so many in our world are desperate for the basics and victims of war and violence and poverty.

    And yet, we remain oftentimes ungrateful.

    Thanks for posting and for sharing.
    .-= Laura@Life Overseas?s last blog ..What I NEED to Know =-.

  26. I recognize the Grand Am thing. My trigger is a certain sung version of psalm 42 that’s popular as a hymn where I live (can you tell I was abused by a church member in good standing?). It’s so hard to get out of my head sometimes – the easiest way really is just to go to bed and wait for the new day. I’m glad to read you found a better way.