Setting one agony down, only to pick up another

I’ve found release, but am now bound by a new agony. Still, I know there is hope. (Image from

Recently,  I was asked by a class of college students what it was like to bear my soul when writing essay after essay about my brother’s suicide. How did I prepare? How did I handle the exposure? I wasn’t sure how to answer the questions, because honestly, the way it unfolded, and why, was a mystery even to me. Sure, I knew I was trying to find peace and closure. I knew I found a desire to turn these essays into a book someday. I knew that my desire to write (and write and write) could only be compared to Forrest Gump’s desire to run. I just did it. But I didn’t see the big picture. Until now.

The best answer I could give that class of fresh-eyed college students was this. A quote from Maya Angelou:

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Eric’s story has been told. Most of it, anyways. And although there are still details I’d like to share someday, my soul is at peace. Finally, after years of telling and retelling this story to myself, I finally told the world. And I feel better. I still feel sad sometimes, but it’s more like a shadowy corner that’s easily illuminated by a lamp, rather than a pitch dark room without a light switch. The pain has subsided. Mercifully, it has subsided.

But now, much like a garden being reconfigured, roots that have been planted firmly are being torn out. Neighboring trees that once gave welcome shade are dying. Weeds, that may have resembled fruitful plants, are being removed. And while I know that in the end, the gardener, the Master Creator, knows exactly what He’s doing, right now all I can feel is the blow of the spade, the scrape of the rake. I have been transplanted, waiting to be put back into fertile, healthy soil. Waiting for sweet rain to fall on my head, and replenish my leaves. All I can do is hold fast.

MacLeod family crest. (From

There’s a song by Mercy Me called “Hold Fast.” These lyrics have brought me comfort and hope during trying times. And it’s fitting. After all, my Scottish ancestors were the MacLeod clan. Their motto? “Hold Fast.”

To everyone who’s hurting
To those who’ve had enough
To all the undeserving
That should cover all of us
Please do not let go
I promise there is hope

Hold fast
Help is on the way
Hold fast
He’s come to save the day
What I’ve learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast

Will this season ever pass?
Can we stop this ride?
Will we see the sun at last?
Or could this be our lot in life?
Please do not let go
I promise you there’s hope

You may think you’re all alone
And there’s no way that anyone could know
What you’re going through
But if you only hear one thing
Just understand that we are all the same
Searching for the truth
The truth of what we’re soon to face
Unless someone comes to take our place
Is there anyone?
All we want is to be free
Free from our captivity, Lord
Here He comes

God knew exactly what he was doing when he compelled me tell my story, Eric’s story, and release my agony. Now, as another season of my life approaches, I feel uncertain and scared. I know more pain is on the horizon. There are things I can’t write about, at least publicly. And that’s extremely difficult for me. It’s my outlet, my catharsis, my relief. But I care more about those I love than I care about my own comfort. After all, that’s what love is all about. Setting down the things we cling to, in order to reach out to each other. When my worldly safety nets fall away, and they will, they always will, I will hold fast to Him. And even when I can hold on no longer, I know He won’t let go of me. He won’t.

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