Before you start, I want you to know that this will take you ten minutes to read. I want to ask you to give it an undivided ten minutes.
I haven’t written in awhile, and there’s a reason for that.
Over the past few months I’ve definitely thought about writing, and have even started writing a few things, but I’ve avoided sitting down to write. I even stopped the daily habit of journaling my thoughts and life experiences, and I didn’t even realize that I stopped.
This year started out so good. Like, so good, I can’t even explain. I had so many things I was going to conquer and action-plans on how to do it. I was starting the practice of Sabbath, which was (and still is) amazing. I turned twenty-four and I had SO MANY dreams come to me for my life and the future. Dreams, especially, for the next year and next season I was about to walk through.
And then the middle of February rolled around and I walked right into a depression. I use the phrase “walked right into” because that’s what I felt like I did. It was almost like I opened a door and stepped into a darkness one day, without even realizing, and I couldn’t get out.
It wasn’t planned, obviously. But for some reason, I’ve always thought that I could plan out my whole life, even the scary moments, so that I wouldn’t be surprised by the highs or the lows.
That wasn’t the case.
This was the darkest season of my life, and, for the most part, I didn’t know why it was happening. I was confused and scared and I felt like each day went by in a flash. It was almost like I had no time to live in between the nights. I would wake up in a blur, go to work in a blur, come home with the same blur, and then fall asleep. And through it all, I wanted to meet Jesus on a deeper level, but it was like I was in this distant state of mind, separate from my life.
Maybe you can relate.
I thought maybe I was being punished for something or that God was testing my strength. I grew up in church being taught that God gives us painful things to test us (or maybe that’s just how I perceived it). In my mind, that meant He would send us into dark places without His help, to see if we could last it out.
I’ve since seen that truth that His “tests” are simply little moments each day where we get to choose to give our trust to Him, again and again. He doesn’t run away from us, as if it were a cruel game of hide-and-seek. And He doesn’t trick us into walking into dark, “testing” moments. In fact, every moment of life (high or low) is a testing moment to increase our trust in Him. Even in the dark seasons of life, He is still there.
To trust in Him is, honestly, the hardest thing to do, especially when you don’t know what is happening or where you are going, but it’s also the most comforting thing, because He is still our Father, and He hasn’t let go.
Still, those thoughts from my childhood sometimes creep back into my mind. And these past three months, I thought I was being punished. Punished for what? I did not know. I thought maybe it was for some of the areas of sin I was still struggling with, but I wasn’t sure. I truly didn’t know why I felt so numb and dull. That was the frightening part.
Maybe you can relate.
At my core, I was coming to terms with the weight of some of the mistakes I was making, and the weight was heavy. I felt like I was making the biggest screw-ups of my life, and it was like I was watching them happen but couldn’t change them. I kept slipping into these habits, trying to pull myself out, only to fall back in. There was one instance that left me so broken and full of shame, I truthfully thought my life was over. It wasn’t that I wanted to die, but that I thought death was the most certain thing for me and, mostly, for my dreams. I thought I was going to watch my life fall apart in front of me. Some days I would get these images of the world around me crumbling because of the mistakes I had made. I felt alone.
Maybe you can relate.
At the same time, I started the transition from school to “life after school” (whatever that means). Two of the biggest things I had been involved in since I was little, school and sports, were now over, and I truly was excited for what was to come next! Yet, it was hard to simply tell myself to move away from the things I had been doing for the past sixteen years. I felt stuck in between two worlds. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to as a career, yet I knew that what I was doing was still beneficial for me and for others, so I felt guilty for my resentment. I couldn’t find harmony and I was anxious about it.
Maybe you can relate.
The hardest thing was that I thought I was never going to hear the Father’s voice again. I thought I had gone too far from Him and wasn’t going to ever be given the chance to come back–like I had used up all of my chances to be called His son, and that His grace had finally run out for me.
Maybe you can relate.
I have to let you know that this is absolutely not the Father’s heart, nor is it in any of His characteristics at all. I knew that even in the darkest moment, but the doubt and fear in my heart would often overwhelm me.
All of this sounds very drastic and almost dramatic, but in the swirling chaos of the dark, it is real.
It was the perfect storm, as they say.
Yet, even in the midst of it all, I could see God working, and that was both a blessing and a curse. Seeing Him work was amazing because of the nature and power of God’s work in our lives. But I felt distant from the blessing, like I didn’t deserve it, and that made me question what grace really meant.
I heard His gentle voice off and on, as He would encourage me to find Him even in this season. It’s one thing to claim “devotion through it all”, and it’s another to actually be devoted through it all. These past few months became a moment of finding my devotion.
I was given a couple of opportunities to speak and share a message from the Father, and He came through for me, just like He always has.
People continued to encourage me with prophesy and timely words of affirmation that anchored to the depths of my soul and kept me secure. This showed me, over and over, that God hadn’t forgotten about me.
Mostly, the core group of people around me did not turn away when I shared any of this with them, which showed me the true love of Jesus, in every season.
My life was not over.
I hope you can relate.
Hillsong United recently released a song titled, “As You Find Me”, that has become my lifeline in this season. After listening to it the first time I realized, “I’ve never related to a song more in my entire life.” It’s the story of the ups and downs of life, and the ups and downs within each moment in life. It’s the story of great strength and sorrowful brokenness moments apart from each other. It’s the story of us. And it’s the story of the Father’s great grace for us through every season.
I’m still walking through this cloudy darkness, but I can see the light of dawn breaking.
I realize those dreams the Father gave me at the beginning of the year were still intended for this season I’ve walked through. I thought it was supposed to be a season of great discovery and joy, but it became a season of pain and sorrow. A season of death, even.
And that’s exactly where the discovery and joy came.
I fell low and discovered, yet again, my God to be so sweet.
I was at a church service in the middle of April, and while we were together in worship, God gave me a picture that I will never forget. I was looking at a mountain in Glacier National Park–a mountain I have visited many times at the top of the Going-to-the-Sun highway. This was a new vision, but it was also a reminder of something I had seen on a trip I took with my friends one early summer morning. Although it was dark and I couldn’t yet see the light, as I stared at the mountain, I could sense the sun was about to rise. I began to see the outline of the mountain as the sun rose behind it. The sun peered over the mountain and as its top peak was hit with sunlight, the Holy Spirit spoke to me saying, “This mountain is you.” I could see that there were certain stages of the mountain that were going to be lit up, but it wasn’t going to happen all at the same time. For right now, only the top part was covered with light.
And in that moment, hope burst back into my soul. It flooded my body because I realized that, contrary to what I was imagining, this darkness I was walking through wasn’t going to last forever. Just like the mountain, I was beginning to see the sun and feel the warmth of its presence again. Although it would take time, and it wasn’t going to happen all at once, it wasn’t going to be night for much longer.
I saw the truth about the seasons of life.
We don’t go through things because God is either really happy with us or really upset with us. We just go through things–that’s it.
And Father God is there, either way, calling out to us and excitedly anticipating the newest development in our personality and characteristics. He’s anxiously awaiting the new depth that is about to come to the relationship.
For awhile there before all of this happened, I think I began to believe that I was invincible, almost superhuman.
I still believe that is true because of the power of the Holy Spirit. But inadvertently, I had taken on a pride that, little did I know, would crumble apart the moment life became real.
Rising out of the darkness and looking back on it I’ve learned a few things.
- I haven’t lost grace in my Father’s eyes. I’m still His beloved child, and I can come to the Table anytime I want to. He won’t stop using me because of my mistakes.
- Abiding, even when we can’t see, is what carries us through the darkness. To trust that He is good and kind, even when I can’t see a way out, is the greatest offering I can give. And trusting in Him is all that I need in this life.
- This darkness, though not sent by God, is going to be a platform for God to show His goodness. It is a preparation for what is to come–the highs or the lows.
I share all of this because I want to be vulnerable about life, especially when it is hard.
And I hope that my vulnerability helps you connect to yourself and to the Father too.
“For the source of Your pleasure is not in my performance or the sacrifices I might offer to You. The fountain of Your pleasure is found in the sacrifice of my shattered heart before You.”