June 28, 2017

Fond of The Dark..?

I'm not quite there yet. Fond of the dark? Not really. But this dark, the one I speak of, I believe I can be, the more I realize how much love was behind it. 

This dark season, the one I've named in jest, the Crash of 2016, the one that I'm now moving more out of and on to the other side than being in the middle of the deepest darkest pit...it's this dark that I speak of. 

Re-engaging with my blog a week ago after a two and half year absence, I told you a little about where I've been. I've been hiding for sure. Isolating and backing away more and more sending me deeper and deeper into the night... When it became so dark I couldn't see anymore, I finally sought help and about 3 weeks into my counseling he asked me a question... 

What if I could become grateful for this season? Wait.

Nails deep. Digging. Hanging on. Struggling for truth. Searching for the way out. 

Fear. Doubt. Guilt. Anxiety. Confusion. Anger. Distrust. Rejection. Betrayal. Loss. Lonely. Overwhelmed. Depressed. 

What did he say? Grateful? What if I could I be grateful for this painful season? That's what he said. Well I guess, I guess I could try...

With nothing else under my feet to stand on, I could try. The point? To see this time as a place where God needed me to learn. I needed God to say something. Do something. Give me anything...that I could stand on. Gratefulness. Start there. I could start there.

Piece by piece Jesus chipped away at my foggy mind and broken hard heart. He showed up and over the next ten months He would reveal to me many places that required of me painful visits if I wanted to find hope and peace again. Places of rebellion and disobedience, built up walls, patterns of lies, negativity, self-condemnation, low self-esteem, selfishness and pride, disbelief, unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness.

Notice the difference between my first list compared to the last one?  The former was focused on things I felt, the latter areas of choice. Those areas of choice created the ultimate feelings of despair. It was hard work. I had to take a good honest look at myself over and over, and what I was hanging onto that led me to this place. So then I had new choices to make and patterns to break. To choose God's way, not mine, was not easy. Doing the right thing is often the hardest thing.

As Jesus - working through counseling, various books, the Bible, prayer, journaling and honest conversations -  began to renew my mind and transform my heart, I was able, and even willing, to be grateful for this season. Why? Because the more I understood the truth and the clearer the paths became that I knew I had to follow, the more I saw the light of hope and who God is with a renewed trust that Jesus is my refuge, help and strength.

Believe me, the road was bumpy and far from perfect with waves of the night crashing in at every corner. But what gratitude does for us is change our attitude, doesn't it? It helped me see that God was not only with me in the dark but still very much active in my life. Jesus has never left me despite the low I felt.

Now you might think, we already know these truths: God is with us, He never leaves us, He is our refuge and strength...we do know this don't we. But when we're in a broken place it's easy to forget. When we're hurting and feeling justified in our anger and our emotions are in turmoil, we humans have a tendency to forget God. (Read my prose-poem: In the Forgetting) We are so independent. Yet we can't survive without Him. It's usually why we might find ourselves in such a place. Jumble it all up with the lies and we have a recipe for a hole so deep it can seem impossible to climb out of.

The pain, however, is often the very place we have to get to in order to experience healing and growth. And that's why we need to consider gratefulness. If we can see that no matter how hard our circumstances or darkness may be, we can trust God to know He is at work in us and wants us to experience Him fully as we allow Him to navigate our way out.

This dark place, I sometimes still find myself slipping down and crawling back out of, trying to wipe off the leftover grime, is a place I can and have already, in some ways, become fond of because God showed Himself true, and gave me the strength to take each step He pointed to.

Do I want to stay here? Go back there? NO. Of course not, and hope I never do! Wouldn't wish it on anyone... Difficult and dark times will never completely go away while we live in this fallen world. We will have more. But I can see how I ended up there and how God allowed it and used it. He does because He knows that sometimes it's only in the dark that we can learn how to walk, or stop to listen or even notice the danger. Is it because He's a tough God, just being hard on us? No. It's because of His overwhelming love for us - He sees our pain and knows what works best.

For that I can be and am, so very much grateful! Without the dark, I would not have learned the truths about myself and my own mess. I would not have discovered the sin messiness that I created and needed to repair. But most of all, I would not have experienced my rescuer Jesus the way I did and the freedom I now have only because of Him.

Our story, mine and Jesus', doesn't end here. I'll come back to share more of the journey we took together... I hope you'll join me. 

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