Ever since I was a child everything about the dark frightened me. My cousin used to prank me and jump out of corners and hallways at night and scare me. When my uncle began molesting me at the age of 7, I would be asleep at night and I would pretend to be asleep and therefore lay awake with my eyes closed afraid to open them and see who it was touching me. These experiences taught me that the darkness was to be feared and that nothing good ever came out of it.
I’ve struggled with depression for about 6 years now. And (in another blog) I’ll tell you how God walked me through it completely, but today we’re going to talk about how he showed me what to do when I began to feel overwhelmed with negative emotions. I’ll also explain to you how this revelation changed everything.
Here’s a picture of my depression:
I used to sit in this house where it was dark and I couldn’t find my way out. I’d be frantically searching the rooms looking for a little bit of light or an open door only to find nothing there. I’d do this day after day in hopes that I could find the exit or at least something that gave me hope.
Then like an answered prayer, I would be back in my world and there would be no darkness.
The times when I would get out of the dark house, I would always return somehow. It’s almost like I’d go to sleep in my own house and bed and wake up in the dark house. Eventually (which is such a undefined space of time) I would begin to be able to find a door or a window that was cracked and I’d be able to see the light and this is what would hold me over. As my experience grew, it became easier to wake up in the house and immediately find the light and stay near it. Other times I had to fight harder to feel/see it. I went by a very long time without having to be in the house and it was so gratifying and freeing , which made waking up and realizing that I was there again devastating. Yet this time it’s different. God showed me that I’m in the same house, I know exactly what to do to find the light and most importantly, I know how to maintain–but there’s just one thing– I’m pissed off.
I don’t feel like running around looking for a window. I don’t feel like running around looking for a slither of light. I’d rather sit in the darkness. It’s easier. It’s easier than searching and searching and not knowing for sure if I would find the light or have to wait another day or even if it would happen the next day. Then while I’m sitting in dark with my arms crossed my mind floods with the thoughts– Did I do this to myself ? Am I being punished ? Could I have prevented this ? Do I even care anymore ?
I know instantly that I am weary with the process. I feel defeated and I am more than willing in this moment to sit there scared, angry and exhausted. I trust that my mind is a liar and that God loves me but I don’t have the energy to scream it at the accuser. I don’t even have the breath to whisper it out loud over myself. Because in defeat it’s easier to sit there and take it —you figure at some point it’ll stop. But as long as you’re breathing and fighting , you have no idea when “eventually” is. When my mind has plagued me with the could haves, should haves, mistakes and mishaps, I am left with the knowledge that the accuser wishes for me to die. He wants nothing greater than to see me fail. He would happy for me to be stuck in the house(darkness) forever.
I am left with the belief (although I’m feel barely able to breathe) that God is fighting for me and that I can indeed sit there in the chair and surrender which is different than giving up.
I’ve had so much disappointment lately and I’ve struggled through it. None of it being situations that I can change. Car accidents leaving children motherless, cancer leaving children fatherless, my own children grieving their fathers, being bullied, robbed and seemingly missing out. Hearing my children look at places and things they’d like to do and say “we could never afford that.” rips my heart in half. When I tell them “one day soon.” I see them doubting whether all of this hard work that I keep telling them about even matters. They see me publically deal with the same issues that I’m privately fighting. They see me crying & praying and hoping and they begin to question the faithfulness of the God that I’ve told them about. So what do you say/do In the face of grief and despair and just overall disappointment? Here are 3 things that I’m doing this week : 1. Accepting /embracing my emotions ! – I’ve found that in this very moment what is like a salve on a open wound is the acceptance of what I’m experiencing. I am perhaps still grieving the life that I thought I would have. Or it’s possible that I am grieving what I believe will make my children better or happier. Grief hurts, and it’s okay to grieve a relationship that I wanted or my children need. It doesn’t make us pitiful or less than. It’s even natural to feel pain when you are hurting or those around you are hurting. 2. Recognizing & meeting my own needs – so many times self care has been defined as nails, spa or trips but self care is rooted in taking care of your own mental space. Recognizing what you need to manage your current space is one the best things you can do for yourself. This will look different for everyone. For me, I needed silence, my pencil/computer (hence this blog) and a song (Sing my way back by Steffany Gretzinger)
This song reminded me that when I’ve lost direction/motivation I can sing my way back into His presence. Find what song/music works for you. And the silence just helps me to center in on the Holy Spirit and perhaps ask him what’s next or even what to do. His answer is usually the same in that area- -write your way through it. 3. Not condemning/punishing myself -the truth is —there probably were/are things that I could have done differently in any situation that may have helped me to avoid grief, but would it have helped me avoid difficult emotions entirely? Absolutely not! They’re apart of the human experience, so there’s no use in playing a movie of memory lane over and over punishing myself for something that I can not undo. Instead I should receive the grace that God so freely gives to us and trust that He can do something with it.
I am not wise enough to know why things happen. Why the entire world seems to be angry, why my children don’t listen or even why my neighbor has cancer. But what I do know is that God is good. That’s he’s there and will never leave me or you either. I know that he’ll do what he promised , not because of what I FEEL but because of what I KNOW and what His word says. It’s okay to FEEL grief, anxiety, sadness and even depression (sometimes things are super hard & crazy in our lives) On the flip side, what’s not okay to believe that it’s the end. The Bible promises us that good days are ahead of us.
However, as it is written:
What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love him– (1 Corinthians 2:9)
As for me , this week, there’s no rush to be #1 at the finish line or seem to have it all together , I’m going to just be me and show up that way.
So as I sit in the house of darkness, that has been like a second home to me for so long, I realize that perhaps I’ve been looking at it the wrong way, that what the darkness brought out of me was way more POWERFUL than how it ever made me feel. And that perhaps the appearance of the house is the opportunity for me to look on the inside of myself to see what God is trying to pull out of me.