In my office at home, I have a sticky note that says, “Choose a weakness and write out your healing journey.” This was a prompt from an online writing course that I had taken a couple months ago. The thought behind it is that you can’t expect to reach the people reading your words if you’re hiding your struggle from them. People don’t relate to your perfection; they relate to your journey. We all want to know that we’re not alone in what we’re feeling or experiencing. When we share those vulnerable moments with others, we let them know that even though it’s not okay right now, it will be one day. That prompt has helped me think differently about what’s going on in my life and how I can share it with others, but I think it’s missing something.
When we wait to share what the Lord has done in our life until we’re on the other side of healed, we miss the opportunity to talk about what He’s doing in our life right now. There is so much power and hope when we share from the messy middle. When we can meet people in the middle of their hurt without being fully healed ourselves, we can walk with each other towards the freedom of the Lord. It can be scary to show others what’s happening in our hearts and lives, especially if it’s different from the version of ourselves we put on before we head out the door. So let me go first…
You may have noticed that this is the first new blog post on here in a little over a month, and my monthly newsletter for March never made it into your inboxes. I have been feeling insurmountably weighed down by anxiety and seasonal depression for the past four weeks. It felt like everything I could do just to get out of bed in the morning and make it through the day until I could crawl back under those covers. Some days were better and brighter than others, a little glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. Those days reminded me that there was hope in the darkness, that I wasn’t alone, and that God was with me through it all. But as many people know, relying solely on the good days to get you through the hard times is never sustainable.
I get seasonal depression almost every winter, but this year it felt different. Instead of simply becoming more introverted, having less energy, and having the occasional bad day, it felt like my soul was being squeezed in a vice this year. There have been a handful of times when I have understood what the psalmists meant when they said they were crushed in spirit, and this winter has been one of those times. It felt like I couldn’t lift myself out of the fog clouding my life no matter what I did. God felt like a far-off friend, calling to me through the darkness, but I could never find Him.
It is so hard to hold onto the promises of God when you are in the thick of despair. When your only goal is to make it through the day with a smile on your face so that no one will find out how broken you are inside, you start clinging to that perception instead of the promises. The hardest part for me was that I didn’t want to let anyone know how I was feeling because I didn’t want to bother them. They all have far more important things going on in their lives, and I didn’t want to bring them down or clog up their phone with requests for prayer and support. I believed that lie for so long, and it only made me feel more isolated. Until last night when the dam finally broke and I cried out to the Lord for help, and He gently reminded me of the wonderful people He had placed in my life to support me and walk alongside me.
I’ve used a lot of past-tense language in the last couple of paragraphs, which might lead you to believe that I have made my way out of the woods and am living a life free of anxiety and fear. But that’s not true. My journey is far from over, but I’m no longer waiting to be fully healed before sharing what God is teaching me. I don’t want to only show you the parts of my life that have been healed and push away the mess still being mended. I am far from a finished product; I’ll spend my whole life being a work in progress…we all will. Because it’s only on the other side of heaven that we’ll finally be whole. God has given me too many praiseworthy moments and has done too many wondrous things in my life for me to keep them all to myself. I almost didn’t post these words, because I didn’t feel like they were polished enough like they had the right amount of sticky statements and deep insights. But the Lord graciously reminded me again that it’s not about perfection or hiding behind pretty words, it’s about showing the reality of living in a broken world. So here are my words, tear-stained and tinged with pain and anxiety. I pray that they give space for you to see that you don’t have to have it all together in this life.
Friend, let today be the day you take your eyes off of what you don’t have and focus them on God. He not only works through our messy middles, but He meets us in the darkness and walks alongside us. Even if we are so blinded by anxiety and despair that we can’t see Him or feel Him. You are not alone in what you’re going through. You are not alone in what you’re feeling. You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone. God is with you, He is for you, and He will never leave you. It might take a day, a month, or a year, but there is healing and hope to be found. It’s time to start inviting people into your hurt. It’s time to admit that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s time to start clinging to the promises of God, not the perceptions of others. It’s time to start coming out of the woods.
P.S. If you need someone to talk to or a soft place to land, I’m here for you. Drop me a comment or send me an email. I’d love to pray for you and walk alongside you as you journey towards the Lord.