In late 2015, I was in a dark place. A hole, really. Not a literal one… but one of depression, frustration, & hopelessness. There were myriad reasons for this, & I KNEW all of them, at least in my head, though I didn’t know how to navigate out of the pit of freakish misery I felt. I knew I had friends, but I had isolated myself out of shame, fear, & feelings of ‘stuckness’… I was there mostly from my own choices & I made it more complicated by getting stuck in my own head on the hyper-critical, hyper-self-analytical way-overthought “hamster wheel of death.”
At one point, a well-meaning soul recommended that I read the Bible MORE. Pray MORE. Seek God until I found Him, MORE.
I wanted to scream. And to vigorously shake the person who’d made the suggestions, to ask them, “Don’t you think I’ve TRIED doing MORE? I’ve done MORE.”
And I was still in the darkness.
At the worst of it, I didn’t have to wonder where God was, or why He was ‘letting’ me go through what I was going through. I KNEW exactly where He was. Where He always is. Right there. With me. Even in the darkness, He was WITH me. He was quiet. But He was THERE. And He gave me what I needed every day (hour? minute? second?) to make it through that day (hour? minute? second?)
And as I came to the end of myself, multiple times, I sensed God’s gentle reminder to me, over & over, that He would never leave me or forsake me. That He gave His Spirit to live WITHIN me as a reminder of His constant attention & presence, no matter what I FELT like. It was like He was sitting WITH me in all my anguish, in all the pain… not trying to fix me, not correcting me, not doing anything but being WITH me.
When I did read the Bible, it was Psalms. I’d read the whole Book of Psalms my whole life 1x/month (5 Psalms/day, like THIS.) But it was in these times I discovered that Psalms spoke the language of my soul. In Psalms I discovered words that painted the picture of what I felt, & questions that I’d not yet asked myself, but that I resonated with. The words of desperation, full of dark emotion & agony, capable of scratching the ’emotional itch’ that I’d been reaching for for months. The questions. The worries. The soul-crushed declarations. All of it.
And I was reminded of a few things.
Our faith is made for dark times & difficulties. Sure, it is good for the good times too, when everything is “alls as it should be” (to quote Matt Redman) but it is even more tangibly appropriate when I’m seemingly lost & suffering in the dark, literally & figuratively.
It’s in those times that I (re)discovered a faith that cannot be shaken, rooted in the Person of Jesus Christ. And things got better, but not because my circumstances changed. They didn’t. Rather, they got better because I discovered what it meant to have “Someone to lean on.” To not try to live & function in my own strength.
To be fair, I wasn’t even aware that I had often been functioning with an attitude of “I’ve got this,” in relationship to my family, my friends, & also my God. And the months of darkness, where I got to see the beginning of my end, my own inadequacies, & my own inability to rescue myself. After all, I was there to HELP others, wasn’t I? Not to need others.
In all the dark, I was reminded of my own humanity & my desperate need for God & for others. Of how God often would answer my prayers by sending a person… a person to listen to me. To sit with me. To offer a shoulder to me.
I’m reminded of this all because I’m approaching my 8 year anniversary of that time. It was back on the 21st of September, 2015 (yes, the 21st of September), when I began to see a light emerge in the darkness. God brought a specific connection, someone for me to lean on, who stood with me while I navigated in, through, & around the dark, ever being lead by the Holy Spirt towards the light of Christ. It lead to changes in perspective, transformations in how I saw myself & others, & the ability to embrace grace again, God’s grace for ME.
And I am eternally thankful.