In the early fall, during one of the dark patches that seemed to have no end in sight,I got a random text from Tim with a picture of fudge, a picture that made it very clear that he had bought me some of my favorite fudge as a treat. The caption to the picture was “just wanted to bring some joy into your life”…
I smiled. I like fudge. It was sweet (the fudge and the gesture)… but something about it, more specifically the caption, really bothered me and niggled at me for days. The fog I was slogging through was thick and I had trouble nailing down exactly why it bothered me but then one Sunday I was listening to Tim preach and God used that time to give me the reason that it bothered me.
Fudge is not where joy comes from. Joy is what I was missing, it was why my days were so dark, so empty, so lonely, and why I found it hard to find something to be excited about. The days were just stretched out in front of me, endlessly the same. Get up, get kids to school, keep busy until you go back to bed, rinse and repeat. I had woken up in the land of monotony and somehow I had stopped expecting joy, looking for it, forget about actually experiencing it.
When I turned off the sad, the painful, the angry feelings I apparently also turned off the hopeful, the excited, the joy. I was an empty shell just doing what was necessary to survive the day.
I had to think, when did I shut off the feelings? When was the last time I felt anything? When had I known joy? The answer was just a whisper in the very back of my mind but it stayed with me for weeks, ‘you stopped spending time in my presence’. I remembered the first time I ever really experienced joy, in it’s truest form. I was in a place in life where I was fully in God’s presence, all day, every day. I hadn’t known that you could feel that deep down beautiful, loving, peaceful, hope and ultimately joy. It wasn’t ‘happy’; it was so much more. It was an assurance, a knowledge of love in it’s purest form, it was so deep and true that it can’t be described fully. I had lost that and it left me without an anchor, drifting, slowly at first but then one day I woke up and I was in this fog, alone, afraid and sure that I would never find my way out.
So, I am in this boat, drifting in unfamiliar territory, scared, alone and desperately sad and it hit me. It wasn’t on me to try to find a way out, it was on me to start to spend time in my wonderful God’s presence, to seek him, to allow him to guide me out. I started small, earphones in my ears, worship songs on, short prayers filled with desperate pleas. One day I started to notice that the dark was changing, it looked more like that dark purple with lilac hues that come with the dawn, and then slowly, the oranges and reds and yellows that come with a sunrise. Light, hope, beauty were on the horizon and the emptiness began to have feelings attached. The emotions come at random times now, tears over a commercial, anger that spikes red hot and entices me to speak up, fear, not the anxious fear that prevents action but the fear that seeks help from the only one who can do anything for me. Tears come when I least expect them, they make me angry but they bring me joy too because they mean that I am healing, they mean that I am thawing out.
When God speaks they are words of life. How I wish I had started to listen sooner and yet I am thankful too for the experience, the dark taught me how to forgive, how to understand, how to feel empathy. I hadn’t fully understood before. I hadn’t ever thought I would dread tomorrow, I never thought I would ever feel hopeless, it was foreign to me then and so familiar now and as hard as it has been, as hard as it still sometimes is, I am somehow finding that I am thankful for the knowledge.
I still love fudge… especially chocolate, and if Kaleb isn’t anywhere near me I love the peanut butter cup kind, just thinking about it makes me salivate but joy, it can’t be found in fudge. It can bring a smile, temporary satisfaction to the tastebuds, and comfort from someone who loves me so much that he wants to see me smile again but it can’t bring me joy. God used Tims wording that day to start a dialogue with me that has me hanging onto a new rope, I’m no longer drifting without paddles, God is now back in his rightful spot as captain.
Am I ‘healed’… not yet, there are still dark moments and fears but here’s the thing. In this world Im not sure that we will ever find perfect healing, but we are given little glimpses into what perfect healing looks like sometimes and it serves as the rope that guides us home.
“I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me; because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will you allow your Holy One to undergo decay. You will make known to me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; in your hand there are pleasures forever.”