Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Secret, Part II

Last night was one of those nights I wish I could bottle up and keep forever. My kids had taken their showers and were warm and snuggled in their pj's, and they were sitting down at their desk drawing while they waited for me to finish up a few last minute things. My daughter was doodling little hearts and words, and then she wrote the words that would melt any mother's heart: I love my mommy. Then we all headed downstairs, turned on the fire, and made big cups of hot chocolate. There I was, my son snuggled in on one side and my daughter on the other, wishing that I could make it last forever.

A few weeks ago, my son wrote me a similar note: I love you to the moon and back.

The most
beautiful things
cannot be seen or even touched--
they must be
felt with the
{helen keller}

A few years ago, I didn't want to feel anything with my heart. There were some circumstances in my life that were heartbreaking for me, and they, combined with the messages written on my heart from the time I was little, were too much. I had finally had enough. Life seemed too painful, too hard, and I wanted to make sure that I wouldn't have to feel the future painful stuff as acutely as I had the past. You know that old song Harden My Heart by the one-hit wonder band Quarter Flash? I'm gonna harden my heart, I'm gonna swallow my tears...that's what I wanted to do. Be strong, be brave, not let anything be too painful. What I didn't fully understand is that when a person chooses to harden her heart against all the painful stuff in life, she doesn't feel or enjoy the joyful, happy times, either. I just felt like I was in an emotional coma. Of course, I laughed when I was having fun and cried when I was sad, but inside I felt dead. The joy of life was missing. Eventually, I tried to "fix" my depressed state with a cocktail of prescribed medications, and I counted on them (as well as their beneficial side effects) to keep me going.

Until that day my daughter asked my husband why I was so sad all the time.

2012 was a tough year. I've talked about this before, so I won't go into all the details, but it was tough because I decided (after much prayer and talking to my doctor, who fully supported my decision) to go off all my medications. My body was in a state of shock and recovery, as were my emotions.  Tuesday I talked about the bible study I went to where I had a light-bulb moment of clarity, where I could see how my negative thinking had contributed to a life of depression and dependence.

So you think, therefore you act.

Sometimes I wonder if God is really there, if He really hears my prayers, if what my pastor talks about on Sunday morning is really true, and if what I'm reading in the Bible everyday has any truth to it at all. The whole concept of an all-knowing, all-present God is sometimes hard to believe.

But here is what I know: that I am a changed person because of Him. So no matter what doubts may come up, I know that my faith is stronger than my doubts.

He is restoring my life, giving me joy where there was once sorrow, gladness where there was depression, a positive outlook where I once saw only negativity and fear.

I'm no longer behind those prison cell bars. God has shown compassion on me, and He has shown me that a joy-filled life can be mine. It means feeling the downs as much as I feel the ups, but now I have a solid rock that I can stand on to help me deal with those painful life circumstances.

He has restored my relationship with my beautiful children and my husband. I know I have a long way to go, but I am so thankful to be on the road to compassion, forgiveness, understanding, mercy and grace. The true secret to life has one source: Him.

For, dear one, I will bestow beauty upon you
where you have known only devastation.
Joy, in the places of your deep sorrow.
And I will robe your heart in thankful praise
in exchange for your resignation and despair.
{isaiah 61:3, in the words of John Eldredge}

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