I had a dream that I was in a deep, cavernous pit. There were open graves with lots of thick, brown mud. There were people lying in those graves. They were alive, but barely. They were literally stuck. I can still hear the "swack" as the mud shellacked to the backs of their legs. It was a nauseating sound.
What was worse was seeing how they were barely alive, yet aware enough to know they were trapped without hope. That dream stayed with me and it's bumped around in my head lately. In the dream I was a bystander, merely an observer. But the past few months I've been one of the stuck. I sunk into a darkness that I can't adequately explain and that I don't ever want to experience again. I've known this darkness before, but this time it came in several successions. Just as I felt like I was freeing one leg from the mud, the other would become stuck and I'd fall back into the pit.
Waves of darkness and a suffocating heaviness wrapped around my head. A vice-grip of sorrow clamped down on my brain.
I found myself going to bed earlier and earlier, until I was in bed by 6:00 some nights. I stopped spending time with my family and I longed to close my eyes. The pressures of this new life in a new state that keeps creating more NEW was drowning me. I couldn't navigate how to wear all the hats I'm supposed to wear and how to give up my wants for others' needs.
And as a person who FEELS, the darkness and struggles of others was like an albatross around my neck, threatening to take me under. I functioned normally for the most part, but I was limping heavily.
I just couldn't anymore.
There was no break. No pause to catch my breath. No SELAH. In order to have a break or a pause, that means other things must stop. How is that possible when you have a husband, 6 kids, a ministry, and a full-time job that all have different demands on you? Sick kids. A full schedule. Job responsibilities. Guilt. Regret. Misery.
That's where I was. The woman who teaches other women about the Lord and how He is our everything suddenly felt like she had nothing. I taught how we must pause, process, and respond to Him. I know the right answers. I know the Scriptures. I know Jesus personally.
And yet, there I was in the mud.
I couldn't find the strength to put it into words for many people that I felt this way. I'm usually on the side of the fence where I'm counseling someone through this very thing, but here I was, face down on the ground. I'm not sure if I feared more looking weak or not being taken seriously when I revealed how much I was struggling.
It's worked in many ways to strengthen me, though. It's also helped me tremendously in how I should respond to others in this place. NOTES TO SELF:
Making someone feel bad for feeling bad is not the way to go. That's lesson number 1. Rebuking others for floundering is merely kicking someone when they're down. (Walking alongside, sharing truth in love is something completely different)
Distancing myself from others who I know rely on me is also not very nice, especially when they're hurting. Ouch. <---I've been on both sides of that.
In these times, the enemy wants us feeling like an island. He doesn't want us encouraging and strengthening our friends, especially when they are on their knees gasping for breath. No. He wants us isolated. So, he orchestrates rifts and distance between those we trust so that we feel alone and unworthy. And boy does it make us feel alone and unworthy.
We must choose carefully who we confide in. Jesus had the 12, but He also had the three who He was closest to and who got to see Him in a more intimate light, in His weak moments. We need our "three." And I'm learning that those "three" will probably change over time.
And truthfully, the section of Scripture where Jesus asked the three to pray for Him in the Garden before He's arrested and led to the cross has really spoken to me lately. He went back to them time after time and they failed Him. They just couldn't be there for Him. They weren't being hurtful on purpose, they were just overwhelmed with exhaustion, fear, and maybe not a full understanding of what Jesus needed from them or how dire the situation really was. And perhaps what He needed was too much for them to bear. Sometimes people fail us in our time of need (and we fail others in theirs) because they have their own stuff going on and don't have the tools we need. Maybe when we say "I'm about to snap" they don't take us seriously. And that just has to be okay.
So Jesus went to the Father and that's where He received the strength to go on. He didn't give up and sink into the mud. He walked forward into the darkness anyway because He was the light. He did the hard thing and answered the Lord's call anyway even though He was abandoned, ostracized, beaten, and ridiculed.
While I don't subscribe to the belief that God has others hurt us for our benefit (seems odd to say that), I do believe that He will use the enemy's plan (to make us feel abandoned) to our benefit--and to His glory. He'll use that time when we have no one but Him to strengthen our relationship with Him and to prune those things and people that can't help us become stronger, those things that we both willingly and unknowingly participate in that contribute to the darkness and mud we find ourselves in.
And oh, it hurts. But oh! He's so good. He always meets us right there in the darkness, at the end of our frayed rope, and tenderly rights us. He puts our feet back on steady ground.
No matter how many times we screw up or take our eyes off of Him, He never wags His finger. He's firm and always, always presents the truth (for He IS Truth), but He does so with love. And He doesn't leave us.
I always know that I'll come out the other side of these dark times, but while I'm in the middle, it feels like I'm going to die. Or I wish I would.
I'm gingerly taking one step at a time right now. One foot in front of the other as I can now see the surface and catch my breath. I walk carefully right now, guarding my peace and trying very hard to draw boundaries while my heart heals. I know He's walking alongside me and was the One who held my head above the waves. I'm grateful for a God who isn't afraid to listen and never abandons me when I need Him.
This space is reserved for Founder Mandy's perspectives and viewpoints of Scripture. Man is fallible, but God is not. It's strongly encouraged that you study the Scripture for yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in your understanding.
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