My emotions were in a tangle. I wasn’t mad or agitated; I was sad and happy at the same time.
Waiting in Ad Seg (the Hole) to be transferred is nerve-wracking. An inmate in the Hole can wait up to five months – or more, in some special cases – to be put on a bus. Every day one pays close attention to listen for his name announced from the weekly transfer list.
Ears perk up and the air goes still as we all try to hear the officer making the announcement. Whoops of happiness and cheers of joy can be heard from those on the list. But disappointment is also heard through the sighs and groans of those whose names were not read. So far, I’ve only been on the “groan” side – until last night. Well, sort of.
It was dinnertime and our plates were being shoved through our door’s tray slot, when something occurred to the officer. Looking past me, to my cellmate, he said, “Um, you made the list. You’re leaving on Tuesday.”
I moved into his line of sight. “Who, me?” I was hoping he was actually talking to me (you know, all Mexicans look alike, right?) I was hoping he was mistaken, because I’d been waiting a full month longer than my cellmate.
“Nah,” he responded, looking beyond me once again.
My heart dove to the pit of my stomach, but just as quickly it jumped right back where it belonged, out of joy for my cellmate. My heart was being pulled in two directions. My feelings were jumbled. I was happy, yet sad. The rest of the day I wavered between the high of happiness for my cellmate and the low of not making the list myself.
At night, trying to go to sleep, I began to pray and give my low feelings to God. I can’t remember how exactly I said it, but I was expressing to Father that I didn’t want to feel sad; I wanted only to be happy for my cellmate. I didn’t want my disappointment to lessen that happiness, nor to hinder me from praising God for His perfect providence in my life. I didn’t want to bring bitterness into the sweet melody for the Lord.
The following morning we were having a nice conversation about the things we miss most. Since he is an avid guitar player, he missed playing and making music. I had come to enjoy the way he always spoke about his love for his guitar. Almost daily he would bring up a function where he played his guitar, enjoying every minute of it.
That morning, as he recalled another one of his “Melody Memories”, I began to see why God had not yet snuffed the “low” out of my heart. I realized that to make sweet music on a guitar, one must strum, and pluck, both the high notes and the low ones. Both notes – strings – are vital to make pleasant melodies. If either one is left out, the melody would be forced. So the guitarist uses both notes – highs and lows – to elicit from his instrument the music meant to be heard.
Although the disappointment was still real, I was able to embrace both the sad feelings, and the happy ones, honestly giving praises to the Lord through it. My joy that my cellmate would be leaving Ad Seg deepened, and my gratitude to my Creator became more vibrant. My heart was able to use the high and the low to make melody unto the Lord.
Life is filled with many highs and lows. Some are expected and some come as surprises; but God, being all-loving, allows these highs and lows to come into our lives so that we can take them and blend them, making music for Him. In order for us to know true joy, we must also know the lows, the highs, and all that is in-between. Using them together, our hearts can praise the Source of all true joy, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Are you facing a low right now? Well, use that low and combine it with your highs; praise the Lord with sweet song. It’s not nearly so sweet without the blend.
Adrian G. Torres