October, which was the last time I posted anything, is a hard month for me. I hold memories that come with a lot of shame and guilt. I've carried the pair for the last eight years and while each year gets a little easier, they still come along for a ride every October.
The party. The drinks. Losing my friends that evening. Finding myself in a room with someone I didn't know. Waking up the next morning realizing that I'd been violated. Victim. Shame. Guilt.
My body still holds all of that.
My body relives that night every October.
The nights where I cried myself to sleep because I was afraid.
The nights where my hand was held and prayed over because life was too much.
I remember it all even if you don't.
I carry it all knowing you don't.
The reason why I wrestled with writing this wasn't because it was so grim compared to what I have on my website, but it's because it's my life and putting this out there means I'm letting you into a not so picture perfect moment. It means letting you know that I walked through a season of darkness that was riddled with depression. I also wrestled with this because I didn't know how to write about it. Depression isn't an easy thing to write about, but as I was listening to a podcast I came across this quote from a worship pastor:
"I remember being curled up and in the fetal position in my bedroom and losing hope. It's probably the worst feeling I've felt in my life. It pointed to the fact that inside of me there was a death that was beyond a physical death. As I was giving up hope I could feel the darkness overtake me. I was becoming its prisoner." - Krisene DiMarco
And that right there is how I felt these last few months. A prisoner. I was stuck in my own shackles left alone to just be over taken by the darkness. I was stuck in what seemed like a windowless room where there was no way out and no light coming in. I don't want to go back because it was an unsettling place to be.
While that above is my story in a shorter sense, I want to continue writing though on the topic of depression and the journey it took me on the last couple of months. I truly believe that going unnoticed darkness and depression will catch up with you until you hit your breaking point. For me, the breaking point was this year where eight years of darkness and depression building just came crashing down. The main guests were shame and guilt.
But more than my life crashing down this winter season, I want to share these things because I know I'm not alone and that there might be others who just need to hear what I'm about to share. That being said, I just hope that there's grace in the areas where I miss the mark on God's glory, but in the areas that glorify Him would we be able to rejoice in that because He is good.
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1. Grieve In Your Disappointment
At the height of this season I found myself at a beach house out on Cannon for a few days. I went there with a vengeance because I wanted to have some choice words with God. Words that were fueled with anger, frustration, and exhaustion. At this point in my life I was tired of saying "God is Good" and "He is so faithful" because despite it being true, I didn't believe it in that moment. I was tired of proclaiming it loudly because all it did over the last eight years was shut my emotions up. All it did was make me believe that being disappointed meant that I didn't trust God with my life. I would remind myself that I was a leader and that I needed to have it together because leaders aren't messy and they don't lose it when shit hits the fan.
But there I was, a leader, losing my shit out on Cannon Beach. I was yelling at God:
"SO MUCH FOR NOT FORSAKING ME. YOU LEFT WHEN I NEEDED YOU AND YET HERE WE ARE AGAIN. WHY HAVEN'T YOU JUST TAKEN ME!? WHY HAVEN'T YOU JUST TAKEN THE PAIN!? ISN'T THAT WHAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO!? I GUESS I NEVER MATTERED. I WAS NEVER ENOUGH ..."
When the words stopped coming, the tears started flowing. My breathing came back and as I started another round of words to have at it, God spoke:
"Would you grieve your shame and guilt? You've spent the last eight years fighting a battle that wasn't for you. You've spent the last eight years taking on something that isn't part of your greater promise. I need you to grieve. I need you to put the pain to rest. It's time to have your heart back."
In that moment, God gave me full permission to feel the emotions that I'd pushed aside.
In that moment, real trust was born again between God and me.
In that moment, the reward of letting God know how I felt was being released from the things holding me back.
I was free.
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2. God Sees Beyond Your Season
Say this to yourself: "God is a God of seasons and He sees beyond my current one."
This comes from the song "Seasons" by Hillsong. It made me ugly cry in public because the song spoke a lot of truth over the season I just walked out of. With a season full of darkness, depression, shame, and guilt I lived my life day-to-day with a heavy heart. The truth is, my life mirrored the lyrics "Like a seed in the snow, I've been buried to grow" in that I was facing the harsh reality of a how cold life can get. But it was in this place that God moved beyond my moment-to-moment view of life and instead was a God who was moving in the process of things.
Out of this winter season, He was orchestrating growth.
Out of this winter season, He was tending to my spring season.
Out of this winter season, He was drawing me deeper into a relationship with Him.
He saw beyond my current season.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” – Ecclesiastes 3:1
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3. Keep On Fighting
Fighting is not what I did for majority of the last eight years. I think a few times I may have raised my fists, but instead I ran from a lot of feelings and emotions. But that's the problem with most people (I'm most people) because we would rather run in times that we need to fight. What's interesting about our human nature is that running in times like this take more energy only to have a result that has caused more damage. After running all these years I still ended up in the dark.
In the depths of my heart though I so wanted to see a brighter day. I wanted to start thriving in this life God gave me rather than just trying to survive to the next day. So I allowed myself to be in my mess and then I fought.
I fought for the promises that have been spoken over me.
I fought to see the God who said he is who he says he is in my life.
I fought so that I could see the glory of God over the darkness that took over my life.
Because here’s the kicker: When I chose to wake up each day. When I chose to keep breathing. When I chose to grow in this dark season. When I chose to still show up - darkness and all. When I did all of that despite the shame, guilt, and pain. I found myself building a stronger character in my narrative. I was building a character that was worth allowing to define me. Welcome to the fight.
That's it. I've been wanting to write this for awhile and I'm glad I did. Being 26 and 2017 weren't easy, but they're finished and I can only move forward. So ... DEUCES.
BUT here's to being 27 and here's to 2018.
A year of dreaming bigger, running harder, and winning my heart back from the enemy.
PS. Thanks Casey for modeling how I felt in this season. His full gallery, as well as other galleries from the remainder of 2017 will be up soon. Still getting back into the swing of things.