Everyday Faith

Heading East

“There’s a place in the darkness that I used to cling to…”

Yesterday was rough.  I was inexplicably overtaken by tears from the time I got up until…well, until this morning.  My heart was broken, and while I had no reason to feel the pain I was feeling, that in no way made it less painful or real.

I had no explanation for it, but it was nonetheless real.  My depression was knocking on the door again, and I had a choice.

In the past, the choice was an easy one.  I would curl up in the bed, snug in the faux security of warm blankets and darkness.  I would hide…cry until sleep overtook me…then awake to feelings of defeat and greater sadness than before.  The process would repeat until I had dug for myself a hole too deep and too dark to come out of alone.  I knew I couldn’t get out by myself, but something in me would not allow – never would permit – for me to cry for help.  No one would know of the despair, and no one would know I needed help.  I would not reach my hand upward, so no one even knew that the darkness they passed held a person – a real person who was suffocating and dying and unable to do anything to save herself.  Pride and lies and the need for a carefully assembled facade required that I remain silent.  Silent tears soaking my pillow and the silent vacuum of sleep sucking the very life out of me.

So yesterday, as the tears flowed without restraint, I knew I had a choice.  I could again hide.  I could let the pain come and let it swallow me.  I could let it happen again.

I also knew, though, that there was something I could do.  I could fight.  I could refuse the welcoming invitation of my bed and press on.  I could cry out to someone – anyone – for help, and trust in the power of intercessory prayer.  I could reach out – extend my hand upward from the chasm that was swallowing me and plead with those who love me to please – please – pull me up.

I wrote a Facebook message to three carefully selected people.

“Please pray for me. I am in a very dark place right now, and I don’t know why.
I can’t stop crying, and I can’t muster the strength to do anything. It is scaring me because I know what this road looks like for me, but I just don’t feel like I have it in me right now to get off this path and start down a better one.
Please pray. If you call me, I won’t answer – I can tell you that for sure. I needed to reach out, though, in the only way I can right now. Thank you for being there, somewhere on the other end of this message. I appreciate you.”

I pressed “send” and waited.  I waited not for a response, but for the peace that comes from letting light into a dark, tear-dampened place.  I waited with hope and expectation.  Soon, though, I received not peace but grief – a guilt and panic from opening myself up to scrutiny.

“What will they think of me?  What kind of witness am I to my friends – to anyone – if I cannot stand strong in the face of this?  People think I have overcome depression…what will they think if they know this is still going on?  What does that say about God?  What does that say about me?”

All day, the thoughts kept coming, and all day I fought them back.

“No.  No.  No.  Remaining silent will kill me.  Hiding in this pain will suffocate me.  Letting these tears fall secretly will accomplish nothing good, and will suck me back into a place I don’t want to revisit.  No.  I did the right thing.  I had to reach out.  Someone had to know.”

Eventually, the tears dried.  They threatened to spill onto my face at any moment, but I was able to hold them back.  Somehow, the darkness was pushed behind me.  Somehow, I walked into the light.

And this morning, Jesus came to me.

Jesus came to me in a real way – in   sunlight and warmth, in music and lyrics that speak straight into the dark places.  As I drove eastward into town, sunlight poured through my windshield and into my heart.

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And he spoke to me.  He reminded me of my purpose statement for my life – of my desire to do nothing but reveal Him in all I am and all I experience.  He showed me that sometimes, a witness of who He is requires exposing myself in painful ways.  Sometimes, when light first enters a room, what is revealed isn’t pretty.  Sometimes the light has to do its work before anything good can be seen.

Sometimes, I have to be broken down and weakened for Him to be seen.  Sometimes I have to be crushed for His restorative power to be known…to me or anyone else.

So I made a promise to Him as I drove this morning.  I promised to show Him to the world, even if that means showing the world what a mess I am.  I renewed my commitment to transparency because I saw, once again, that only when I become invisible can He be seen for all that He is.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

And today, I’ll keep heading east.  I’m facing the Son, and His warmth and light have permission to penetrate even the darkest, most secret places within me.  Those dark places have never done me any good.  I’m leaving them behind and chasing after the light.  In light, there is life.

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So turn on the light and reveal all the glory
I am not afraid to bare all my weakness, knowing in meekness
I have a kingdom to gain
Where there is peace and love in the light
Oh, I am not afraid to let Your light shine bright in my life.

Could it be that my worth should depend
By the crimson stained grace on a hand?
And like a lamp on a hill, Lord, I pray in Your will
To reveal all of You that I can.

Dedicated with love and appreciation to those who faithfully hold me up in prayer.  You know who you are.  Thank you.

Song lyrics taken from Jennifer Knapp’s “Martyrs and Thieves.”  Photos were taken this morning on the side of the road.  Thank you, Lord, for revealing yourself to me.  You didn’t have to, but you did.  Thank you.

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