I was walking on the beach in the late afternoon. Low clouds and chilly air meant I was alone; the ocean to my left and the beach unrolling before my feet were empty except for tangles of seaweed and tiny, scuttling crabs. The air tasted tangy, heavy with kelp and recent storms.
I walked for a long time — out of the afternoon and into the evening — in hopes that the throbbing of the waves would drown out the voices that are my constant, malevolent companions: I am useless, a failure, hopeless, bad, a loser, incompetent, stupid, unworthy, weak, unlovable, selfish, contemptible, fundamentally and irrevocably broken…
When the light was fading from blue dark to the black of night, I saw a fire on the beach and next to it, a man sitting on a blanket. As I approached, he stood and reached out to me. “Adrienne! Come sit down by the fire,” and, nearly numb with cold, I sat. The man gave me a cup of coffee and gestured to a plate of sandwiches. “Help yourself,” he said. “You must be hungry after such a long walk.”
We sat together and ate sandwiches and soon I was warm enough to unzip my jacket and take off my gloves and scarf. “Better?” the man asked, and I nodded while he refilled my coffee cup. “You have a question. Would you like to ask it now?”
Too disturbed by the ceaseless, poisonous chatter in my head to hold back another moment, I opened my mouth and disgorged everything — all the ugly, hateful feelings that paralyze me like a giant anchor paralyzes a ship. Shame and guilt, regret and rage, fear and depression, and, finally, from the very bottom of the sludgy, stinking heap came the angry question, “Why? Why would God create me if I was meant for nothing but misery and struggle? Why?”
The man didn’t answer right away, allowing me time to catch my breath. Finally, he said, “For love. I created you because I love you.”
The taste of salt and the sound of the ocean seemed very far away. “Adrienne,” he said softly, “when you know, and I mean really know, deep in your guts, that I created you for love, everything will change.”