• Belinda Lane

Story: Five Minutes to Midnight… Happy New Year 2022!

December 31, 2021


I’ve been to Hell and back twice in my life. The toughest part of being in Hell was escaping. And the roughest part of escaping was getting past The Gatekeeper. The Gatekeeper’s role is to keep you there, and he was outstanding at his job. Forever vigilant and reveling in his impeccable success record. Similar to the fairy tale Cinderella at the ball, I had before the stroke of midnight, to make it back to the other side… Life!


Not realizing what the Gatekeeper would apply to control me, my journey to Hell this time had been my worst upset ever. What do you do when you know someone has taken a part of your soul? When they express to you in venomous words, fixated on a search and destroy mission to wound you and ruin you. Those words press against your heart with a weight so strong that it makes it beat erratically. Sometimes in my life I slid past Hell by hitting the light switch, activating a bright and guiding illumination detouring me within mere seconds.


Not this time. I don’t think the light switch was in the same room as me. The saying that “hurt people, hurt people” has to be true because a person has to have inner anguish to inflict certain pain on someone. Not being disturbed by their actions. Someone had ripped apart a trust I had given over, assuring Hell as my destination. Four minutes to midnight.


The last time I was in Hell, the Gatekeeper used a childhood struggle to draw me there. It was something I considered I had gotten over. I escaped from that experience, but it was forgiveness which snatched me back to the other side. That time, the Gatekeeper let out a shrieking scream that shook the very foundations of Hell. It was our inability not to forgive that was one of his prize weapons.


Back on the other side–Life–wasn’t so easy either. I had become immune to prescribed medicines, and my competence bewildered most of my therapists to self-analyze. This always left me in the same place in life, fragmented and in darkness.


When the lights are off in your world, recalling where the light switch is key to getting the lights back on in time. It’s when you can’t find the light switch that you find yourself trapped in Hell. Sometimes it is the desire of darkness to cover us as we wander around in the world. It is this absence of light that will lead you to stumble more than you walk. There are times you walk in darkness without knowing it, because it is so comforting to just survive. Three minutes to midnight.

*****

In the beginning, I didn’t knowingly turn the lights off. Others in my world who needed to hold me in their darkness shut my light off. Years later, I learned there was a light switch and people did not have to live like this. By this time, hate, anger and not being able to forgive kept me from even considering the light switch.

A little-known fact of knowing your own personal darkness is that it helps you to identify others who are walking in their darkness. And it is unsafe to hook up with others in the dark. Still, loneliness can lead you to receiving them as traveling companions of a sort. I have spoken to women in abusive situations that elected to remain with their abuser, because they felt they couldn’t make it alone. I have seen others who completed their rehabilitation program and pick up their drug of choice again only because they couldn’t find their light switch. And not finding that light switch has had family members standing over their grave and wondering why?


Most individuals need drugs or alcohol as their attention getter, which makes it complicated for the surrounding people to realize they were just reaching out. I heard of a few individuals that have even needed going into the hospital as their means of receiving attention. It had developed into an art.

*****

I checked with the Gatekeeper to find out if anybody had inquired about me. He held no malice related to my last escape, but with pride, he shook his head NO, causing me this time to be nervous. The Gatekeeper’s awareness enabled him to see both worlds, and I was sure he knew what was taking place on the other side of life. And it was my personal awareness that I knew this was the longest I had been absent from life. It alarmed me how people could look you in your eyes and not see that you aren’t there and engage with you as if you are present, sometime for their own selfish gains. I couldn’t accept why no one hadn’t come looking for me. I thumbed through a list of people in my mind. Someone should have noticed by now that I wasn’t there. Two minutes to midnight.


Thinking about the situation that had brought me to Hell this time, I was certain that there would be a rush of folks surrounding The Gatekeeper bargaining for my release and beckoning me to come back. Everyone around me knew what had transpired, even God. God for so long was at the top of my anger list, because I believed when you are not in a position to help yourself, He should. I had stopped singing a lot of the songs I’d learned in church, especially the one, “He may not come when you want Him, but He’s always right on time.” I could not understand God’s timing. Waiting for God’s timing had shaken my life to the core, and I had meds and therapists as proof.


Let me just say there is always something to be thankful for and watching the evening news shows this to be true. Yet, not perceiving God’s time for my life had placed a knot in the pit of my stomach. How do you understand God? How do you get your life back into the hands of a God who had never let you go in the first place? It should have been clear. The Gatekeeper sees it was two minutes to midnight and observed me as I turned and walked away from the gate, imagining a lifetime in Hell.


When the clock strikes five minutes to midnight, you can hear the loud ticking as each minute passes. I had never heard the ticking so loud before, but I had never been in Hell this long either. I saw many people were running toward the gate as they made their declarations to get out of Hell. The Gatekeeper knew those declarations that fell on deaf ears and those who would never leave. One minute to midnight.


Many people were breaking down and crying because their declarations had failed. I knew no way out of my present situation and the clock was ticking louder and louder with each passing second. A few folks had made it past the Gatekeeper and you could hear the cheering on the other side as they went back into life.

The Gatekeeper had closed one side of the double gates and had a hand on the other gate, pulling it closed. From the very depth of my inner being, I spun around, ran toward the gate and made my declaration, “God, I will trust you!” The Gatekeeper heard my declaration and stood frozen in place. Not looking back, I could hear the Gatekeeper shrieking, screaming as I rushed through the gate. I’d made it back.


Lying in my bed, I turned over, soaked in sweat. I had made it. But there was no one waiting back in life for me and no cheering. My only saving grace was trusting in my God, who snatched me through the gates of Hell and back to life. Midnight! Happy New Year 2022… “God, I will trust you!”


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