It is what I imagined hell to be like. Desolate. Empty. Barren. It came to mind today while thinking about where I had found myself the past three weeks. All because of one decision.
The decision we had made resulted in me stepping into a deep cavern, a black hole, bottomless and sucking every dream, hope, and promise in to it. There was good to come from this, but I could not get past what I saw as loss. I grieved. My body felt weighed down as a spirit of heaviness enveloped me. I was two weeks into living in the barren desert of my emotions, when I identified it. Depression. It stunned me. Everything an effort, tears washing my face, heart hurting. Silence welcoming while at the same time deafening. Frozen in place with graceful movements an effort.
I tried to focus on the family coming. Thanksgiving was a bit of a reprieve, we do love being with our family. I thought I was pulling it off, the "everything is great" act until our oldest asked a question...."Are you happy, Mom?" I had to think about it. I paused and took a breath and replied..."Most of the time...." I knew as soon as I said it aloud that it echoed false. I was not happy. Guilt crept in.
How can I not be happy!?! I recovered from surgery, radiation is mostly a thing of the past. My latest mammogram was good......I can see well now with cataract surgeries long behind me. So much to be thankful for.....and yet.......I. want. more. I want to see what I have been believing for. What we have been believing for. I sense it so close, but I do not see it. I see it not.
How can we not be happy? Joel has fill-in work. He is well liked in the pulpit and likes to be there, so there is enough Sunday preaching, he helps others out, it helps us financially. Still, we. want. more. This is not what we planned. We planned to be desert birds, or at least snow birds. More importantly we planned for a new adventure with God. And we believed from what we were told and felt, that God had a new purpose awaiting us. Weary of chair sitting we long for more. Lately it had not seemed possible. Not one promise of God is empty of power, but I had forgotten that.
A perfect storm of circumstances and more had come together, releasing a deep spirit of heaviness over me. In my mind this one decision was erasing our future dreams and God's promises. I found myself on that desert road to nowhere. So many tears, so much sadness. I was surprised by my reactions. Here's the thing, though. My response opened my eyes....our eyes......because I usually don't experience depression...situational for a day or two, but nothing like the hopelessness that filled me.
I expect some would have said, "Suck it up buttercup" or "think positive". "If you have Jesus than you can't be depressed." "Be thankful!" But Joel said to me, "It is okay, how you feel. Just feel it, walk through it, and it will pass." Thank you, Joel. For your prayers, your loving support, and your wisdom.
Recognizing the heaviness for what it was, I started seeking insights from God ~ everything rang hollow. But then an online friend, Michelle, who often speaks out prophetically, posted something on Facebook that had my full attention. She wrote (in general) that through the struggles, pain, exhaustion, tears, sorrow, etc. God has great plans for you. Even if nothing makes sense, remember that God has great plans for you! Simple and straightforward, for me it was profound and as I read it once, then twice ~ a weight began to gently lift off of me. A light began to appear.......so I asked God for more, but silence echoed. Then a couple of days later while resting, His response washed over me with the words of Dr. Simmons in a Passion Translation prophesy, and in God's written Word. "Praise Me. Praise releases breakthrough. Praise.....praise....praise..." In obedience we began to praise Him.
"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called tress of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified"
Going through this valley of darkness opened my eyes to some vulnerable thinking, some "lies" I was believing. It also opened my eyes to trusting not only God, but the gift of discernment He has blessed me with. This experience has helped me to recognize once again that even in the desert when it feels like we have arrived in Hell, we are never alone. Oh, friends, I hope this resonates for some of you as you read my words. We are never alone. We can give praise for that, can't we. We can give praise for so many things. Wearing a garment of praise is so much better than carrying around a spirit of heaviness.