Chapter 35: Leaving Hawaii
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” –James 4:8
As I stood there watching Tommy’s truck drive away into the dark night, I began to feel the first sense of real peace since I had arrived on the island. However, it was almost immediately followed by the harsh reality of my situation– I needed a place to sleep and fast.
The airport terminal was deserted, so I wondered around inside to find someone who could help me. After a few minutes, I found the night watchman who told me the taxi cabs don’t start running for another two hours. I groaned in protest, but thanked him for letting me know.
Tired, hungry, and alone, I began to wonder if I could survive this trip. I cried out inwardly to the Lord…thanking Him for escaping the warfare at Tommy’s house…but like a scared child whining about this new dire situation.
I felt so weak and incapable of handling basic adult life, but the Lord reassured my heart even in the turbulence. After praying, I felt a growing sense of peace, and I knew I didn’t have to weather this alone. Jesus was with me through all of it, and wanted me to depend on Him for the smallest things. Then, I suddenly remembered I had bought a protein bar at the health food store, and it was still in my purse! Thankful for something to eat for my blood sugar, I wrestled it out of my bag. I sat down outside on a bench, and ate my food in the quiet of the night.
An hour went by in silence, and I fought hard to stay awake. Much to my surprise, a cab driver drove up around 5:15am, and waved at me to see if I needed a ride. All things considered, it felt like a small blessing. He told me he normally wasn’t at the airport this early, but wanted to make some extra money that day. Bleary eyed from the cumulative effects of sleep deprivation, I told him that I needed a place to stay, but wasn’t sure where to go. He was from Lihue, so he knew the area well he said, and began to drive. I tried not to give him too much information, but just enough to let him know the dire-straights I was in. He told me he knew of a local motel with a small café and store attached, and he would take me there. It wouldn’t be open yet, he said, but I could wait outside to see if they had a vacancy. Feeling hopeful, I thanked him profusely.
When we arrived at the motel/café, it was still pitch black outside. I dropped my bags near the front curb of the restaurant and sat down on the cold concrete. The sign said the café would be open in another hour, so I leaned against the brick building and tried to close my eyes for a while. I’d never felt quite this way before– so thankful to the Lord for providing a way out of Tommy’s house… yet also so unsure of what was going to happen next.
Relying on the Lord for every single step felt like a lifeline in the middle of a deep ravine. I was holding on for dear life and praying with every breath I took.
Finally, the café opened and I stumbled in with relief. Right away, I noticed I was the only non-native Hawaiin there. The woman at the front desk was very polite and smiled at me warmly, but the rest of the staff glanced at me in what seemed like mild annoyance. Thankfully, the nice woman told me I could rent a room for the next two nights, and I quietly praised the Lord for this good news. As I took a booth and got ready to order breakfast, I noticed many people in the small cafe were still staring at me intently. Getting the sense that this place was mostly for regulars, I tried my best to smile back at them, but not stand out. Nobody smiled in return. Being so exhausted and realizing I was most likely an unwelcome outsider, I thought it wise to just keep my head down and avoid anyone’s gaze.
To make matters more embarrassing, everything on the menu was different than what I was used to, as the food featured was mostly Asian cuisine. Panicking, I realized I didn’t see any eggs or toast–my typical breakfast to stabilize my blood sugar. However, because of the sleep deprivation, I couldn’t seem to wrap my brain around what to order instead. Wishing I wasn’t allergic to seafood, I scanned the menu desperately to find some protein. Thankfully, the nice waiter came by a second time to take my order and I perked up enough to ask if they had any eggs. Eggs weren’t on the menu, but they had one they could boil for me they said. Profoundly grateful and a bit worried about seeming like a spoiled tourist, I ordered an egg and some rice. It was the first real appetite I’d had since arriving in Kauai, and the food tasted great and gave me the energy I needed. I thanked my server repeatedly to show my gratitude, and shuffled off to my room.
After getting settled, I was eager for a shower to wash all the stress away. Even though I was fighting abject exhaustion at this point, I still had this tiny bit of anxiety, so I prayed I would be able to sleep. Thankfully, it didn’t take very long until my prayers were answered and I drifted off into a sound slumber.
When I awoke, it must have been 3 or 4pm, and I thanked the Lord for getting a good rest for the first time since I had arrived at the island. I rolled out of bed, got dressed, and went to the café again before it closed for the evening. As it turned out, the kitchen had more of a bistro style menu for the lunch specials, so I ordered a sandwich for dinner, and got some drinks and snacks to last me through the night. It was at this point I learned the motel was in walking distance to a gas station and a few fast food restaurants, so I decided to walk over and get some wine to cope with the crushing feeling of being stranded in ‘paradise’. This trip was not turning out to be anything like how I imagined it. In my early days of getting saved from the new age, I struggled a lot with drinking, and it became my crutch for dealing with all the changes in my life.
As I was walking to the gas station, I cried out to the Lord about Tommy and all that had happened between us. Being alone in beautiful Hawaii was starting to rattle me. Then out of nowhere, I felt a rush of emotions, and all the pain from all the years of abandonment in my life washed over me like a gut punching wave of miserable clarity.
I remembered all the hurts and barbs from every man who left me high and dry, and I began to feel so small and unloved. I didn’t quite know what to do, and I instantly felt like I did when I was a little girl—powerless to protect myself from the people who hurt me, powerless and alone in the world. But it was exactly at this point when the Lord intervened again. I heard Jesus’s voice again at that exact moment. I heard the words:
“Let him go.”
The Lord had not abandoned me, and He never would. Men might hurt me, but the Lord would not change. I knew this powerfully in my spirit. But I also knew that the Lord needed me to listen and be obedient.
The voice of the Lord was a comfort to me, and was there to teach me in His ways. The Holy Spirit indwelling was directing me to the plan God had for me, and that would never be anything outside of His Holy Word. I knew it was the voice of the Lord because it lined up with the Bible and drew me closer to God’s will and not my own sinful nature.
Relieved the Lord had not left me, I thanked Him.
But with tears in my eyes, I pleaded inwardly for God to help me have Tommy. I didn’t yet understand that when God gives you instructions, you need to be obedient to Him. There are reasons why the Lord protects us from people, but our hearts don’t know how to process this. We have to have faith and trust in the Lord. The issue was that I was a baby Christian, and I was still under the bondage of a rebellious spirit.
I was still being shaped by Jesus and shown the consequences that God’s choices really are better than my own. So, because I was not ready to obey, my response to the Lord’s command was “I can’t Lord. I just can’t let him go.”
I wasn’t asking for strength to let Tommy go. Instead, I was going against God’s plan and then asking God to bless it. I had some difficult road ahead with this, and I learned that God allows these trials to bring us out of the world and teach us how to be fully surrendered to His will.
Relieved to know Jesus would never abandon me, but stubbornly clinging to the need to be loved by Tommy, I marched on to the gas station fighting back silent tears. Everything would be okay when I calmed down, and wine would help with that I thought. Alcohol was still my crutch, but the Lord would convict me of this soon.
After I got my wine at the gas station, I took it back to the motel. I decided to listen to some music on my I-pod, and I began to drink. As I drank and listened to sad songs about romantic love, I started to cry and feel the pain of the almost romance with Tommy. It overwhelmed me, this feeling of loneliness. It wasn’t so much about Tommy anymore, as I was realizing Tommy brought up something deeper, a crushing need for someone to love me. There had always been this void, a hole in my heart…and I thought that if a man could love me…then I would be complete. I was made for a man, even the Bible said this, right?
I hadn’t yet understood that I was placing romantic love at the level where Jesus should have been. I was making it an idol, and this allowed warfare in my life again.
From a very young age, I had been programmed by the world to see romantic love a certain way. But, what I learned from the world was not love, but obsession… and a perversion of what God had intended for His people. Satan takes gifts from the Lord and twists them into something just a tiny bit different, turns them into a snare…a trap that leads us away from God.
A godly romance should have placed the Lord first, but I had no clue what that kind of romance was. All I had ever known was romance addiction.
Later, I would learn from the Bible that the apostle Paul instructs believers on how to conduct themselves in relationships. I learned that if I were already married when I came to salvation, then I should stay with my husband in hopes that he might also come to know the Lord through my faith. But since I was single, I learned that while it’s certainly not a sin to want a husband… it also wasn’t a promise from God that I would have one. In fact, the apostle Paul mentioned that married life had certain troubles that single people would avoid.
The Bible promises the desires of our hearts, but ONLY insofar as they are lined up with God’s will. That’s the part that gets twisted by Satan. The enemy wants us to view God as a genie who bends to our wishes and our will, but the Lord Almighty has a plan for each of us, and submitting to that plan is strength. However, the world calls it weakness.
As my head was swimming with all these conflicting thoughts, the wine took hold and gave me a false sense of peace mixed in with a mind that was not quite my own. Feeling this double-mindedness that the Bible warns about, I decided to text Tommy and tell him I was staying at a motel in Lihue for a few days until my flight. I told him the name of the motel, and hoped all my romantic fantasies would come true…that he would arrive in a few hours with flowers in hand, that we would embrace and decide to embark upon a grand love affair.
But, hours went by…and Tommy never showed. I sat there alone in the small room staring at the linoleum tiled floor and feeling totally alone again. I decided to call some friends for comfort, and I felt briefly ‘empowered’, but no better than before.
Each day I would have breakfast and lunch at the café, dinner at a fast food joint, and then wine from the gas station. I was quickly gaining back the weight I had tried so hard to shed for Tommy, but in my grief I didn’t really care.
Each day, I would call a friend and tell them the whole sob story. Each day, I would text Tommy and hope he would come around. Each day he didn’t, and each day I felt more and more ridiculous. Each night, I would struggle to fall asleep to the sound of wild roosters on the island, and each night I wondered what on earth I was still doing there.
After a few days of this, I stopped texting him and thought I had finally accepted things. I took a flight home and was determined to move on with my life. My mind was set on showing him just what a mistake he made in letting me go. I wanted to put on a brave face and prove to him that he hadn’t beaten me. My heart definitely wasn’t in the right place, and I was still unwilling to surrender my love life to Jesus. Because of this, I was about to learn the consequences of pursuing a man outside of God’s will.
The Lord allows consequences to show us that being in His will is the safest place to be. My Heavenly Father cared enough to discipline me. This is real love.