Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Chair

When Robert and I first got married he was a youth pastor.  We loved doing youth ministry.  Ministry was very new to me but I  enjoyed all the new challenges that came my way.  One of the challenges I faced was becoming a Sunday school and bible study teacher in the youth department.  I was not use to being a leader and teacher coming right out of college.  I was very intimidated and took teaching very seriously.  One night I was asking God to show me a verse that the girls could learn to help them durning a difficult time.  God took me to the book of Habbakuk.  I smile thinking about it because I didn't even know that book existed, and I remember having to ask Robert how to pronounce it several times.  Reading through the book it wasn't until the very end that God said "Remember this".  I honestly didn't understand why I needed to remember Habakkuk 3:17-19.  

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor the fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  God, the Lord,is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places."

I was a little confused because although we didn't have much we weren't going through a hard time.  Every time I would read that verse I remembered how God wanted me to always remember it.  I even taught on this verse a few times during the last few years.  I would always get excited when I read "yet I will rejoice in the Lord".  I thought for sure if something really bad ever happens to me I will rejoice in the Lord too.  Man was I clueless!

This is where the story becomes very personal.  I didn't want to ever talk about my "dark season".  I mean we are suppose to be authentic and personal but that's a little too personal for my comfort.  And I'm a pastor's wife so I am pretty sure I am not suppose to struggle, right?!  Sorry to burst anyone's bubble but I am only human.  I have no special spiritual powers and I am not immuned from  tragedy and bad days.  I can't explain how the depression started but it happened very quickly.  Depression is like wearing a coat of darkness, except you can't take it off.  For 10 months I couldn't find any joy in my life.  There was no peace, in fact my anxiety got so bad I started taking medication so I could at least sleep at night.  If you have never suffered with depression it's hard to understand the thoughts of someone going through it.  I tried to fight the darkness.  I would read scripture, Christian books, went to a Christian counselor, wrote in journals (which were destroyed, the darkness brought out too many evil thoughts).  I can't say that those things didn't help, even though at the time they all felt useless.  I see now how each thing I did helped me take a step toward recovery.  Funny how in the moment you can't see how God is with you and you definitely can't  imagine God moving in your life-but He was!  I can look back now and see how God was with me every time I sat in that chair and cried and wept for my life to change. That chair was the place where I would sit in the darkness and moan for understanding.  If you look closely at my chair you can see how the "leather" (don't judge my fake chair) is pealing off.  It's because I sat for hours in that chair everyday not wanting to do anything but cry.  I didn't want to be a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife or a mother.  I definitely didn't want to be a pastor's wife and try to smile at church every Sunday and act "normal".  It was very scary.  My thoughts were so negative and hateful (which is a testament of how forgiving my husband has had to be).  This chair use to represent the dark hole I was living in at the moment. Those 10 months seemed to last forever.  I can honestly say that was the hardest time I have ever endured in my life.  It was life changing for me.

If you don't tell your story how will God receive the Glory.  This has been running through my head for months now.  I want everyone to know that the chair I use to sit and bawl my eyes out of misery is now the chair that I sit in and bawl my eyes out because of God's unfailing love for me.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep the chair at first.  It was a harsh reminder of the dark season.  But now I am so thankful for everything God has shown me that I don't think I will ever be able to get rid of it.  Jesus saved me from an eternity without God (that's Hell) and saved me from the darkness of depression.  I am so grateful to talk to my Savior and read His Word.  I am grateful He talks to me because for 10 months I could hear nothing.  I had forgotten how special my relationship with Christ really is and how I need Him every minute, every hour of every day.  Did I lose Jesus for 10 months?  NO of course not but my thoughts and feelings were so strong and overwhelming that I couldn't see or feel Him at the moment.  When the darkness began to lift a little everyday it was like being given a second chance at life.  I can't explain it and I think everyone experiences different situations in life according to how God wants to speak to them.  God wanted my attention but I had become to hard hearted in my walk with Him that I wasn't listening. 

Let me explain.  Some where in the 13 years of ministry I stopped repenting and became self righteous.  I would read God's Word and teach all the time and in doing so became very prideful of my biblical knowledge (and funny thing is not that much knowledge was abtained).  But I convinced myself that my little sins (gossip, pride, lying) were all ok compared to other's sins.  I became numb to conviction.  I became numb to things and events that should have broken my heart for Jesus.  The sin in my life hardened my heart but I was so arrogant I just counted it as spiritual maturity.  I'm not proud of this at all.  I honestly can't believe I lived this way as long as I did.  So in order for me to really listen to God I needed to be in a place of totally depravity.  Depression brought me to that place very quickly.  During the darkness God revealed my sins to me.  It was a lot to take in at one time.  It brought me to my knees and left me broken.  Which is what I needed.  Brokenness helped me repent and broke down the walls that had left my heart so hard.  Can I just say how much I missed being brought to tears.  I am so excited when I cry during my prayers, reading God's Word and during worship.  And I'm not saying you have to have tears to make a difference.  What I am saying is my heart is now tender to God speaking to me and I haven't felt that in a long time.  I also have conviction for my sins and boy I am I glad to feel that again.  It's a scary thing to not ever feel the wrongness of sin, because with out the conviction there is no gratefulness for the forgiveness and salvation.  Life changing events took place in that chair.  I now know why God wanted me to remember Habakkuk 3:17-19. Some things need to be personable.  These two verses are very real to me now.  And I will rejoice in the Lord!