I am not a private person. I am an open book, completely transparent and energized by friends and people who are real. Who are willing to say, “I struggle with this. I need help here. Can you pray about this.” Because we know anyway, so why fake it? What’s the point?
The last 4 weeks I’ve not been myself. I shared a little in my last post. Honestly, I would’ve shared more if I had more time to write.
It slithered from the shadows and descended upon me in the dark of night, and when I woke, the world looked different.
A sadness lay over me like a weighted blanket. The sadness would lift ever so slightly and with no warning would swoop back with an agenda. To hold me captive. To torment and taunt.
Initially, I battled in my own strength. Nothing had happened in my life to cause this. Nothing had changed. I’m not currently experiencing grief or trauma. I had no “reason” to live in this soul darkness. I spoke reason and logic to my mind. It didn’t help.
I tried to push it into the depths of my heart, away from the world. If I pushed hard enough, surely it would disappear into some soul abyss. Then I would feel “normal” again.
I felt far from God. So very far. I know truth. I know He didn’t leave me. My prayers became breath prayers. “Lord, help!”
My perspective was gone. My passion. Gone. Desires. Gone. Motivation. Gone. I didn’t recognize me anymore, and I began to panic. The black would come in hurricane sized waves.
I tried to talk about it but had zero words. Nothing made sense. How could I explain this to anyone when I didn’t understand it myself. But I tried to explain to Steve. He listened without trying to fix me or solve my problems.
It simply felt like an attack from satan. One unlike any I’d ever experienced before.
I told Steve I know truth. I know I have a million reasons to feel joy, to be thankful, to praise God. But I couldn’t do it. I know scripture. I know the lies that are being whispered to me by satan. I know I am hearing the lies louder than truth. I’m fighting it, but it’s so hard to fight in the dark. Every move feels labored.
Steve asked me who I had praying for me. I said no one specifically about this because I don’t even know what to ask for. And I feel ridiculous because I have not one single, microscopic reason to feel this way. My friends are dealing with real problems, real issues, real grief. How can I ask them to pray for something so ridiculous? However, I know many who pray for me regularly as the Spirit leads.
It’s what satan wanted. He wanted me to isolate myself from the fellowship of believers. Because he knows they would battle for me with the sword of truth, they would hold the shield of faith on my behalf.
Steve took my phone in his hand and told me if I didn’t reach out to my dear friend and mentor immediately, he would call her for me. So I did. Then I ran into a friend at church. I tried to get in and out. I can’t fake it. What you see is what you get with me. There is no happy face when I’m not happy. She stopped me and said I didn’t seem myself. My eyes welled up, and I blurted it all over her. Steve began asking people to pray for me. And I know many of you prayed for me after my last post.
The thing is on the outside, no one could really tell what was happening in my heart and mind. Though I’m not a fake it person, I swallowed hard to appear “normal”, to go through the motions, to keep taking steps forward.
Several weeks ago I wrote this in my journal:
I don’t feel like myself anymore. Or am I more myself than I’ve ever been? I’m confused. That’s what I feel. And lonely, which is weird because I’m never alone these days. The boys are with me around the clock. I’ve lost the time I used to have to reflect. Yet I stand inside the greater gift. That of constant experience. I know God’s still here, but I used to sense His Presence so powerfully. Now, I pray desperate breath prayers.
No more simmering of Him in my soul. My pride and self-sufficiency are being burned in the Refiner’s fire. I must surrender it all to Him. To let go and be still. To open my hands. To breathe.
After writing that in my journal a friend sent me a message about how something I posted encouraged her. I shared how it had spoken to me because I feel I’m in a dark place away from God. She responded to me by sharing a story about Mother Theresa being certain God had called her to ministry in India. As years passed she began to feel she couldn’t “hear” God anymore and couldn’t feel His Presence. Yet she remained obedient. After 19 years the Holy Spirit revealed to her that how could she minister to “abandoned” people if she herself never experienced what it felt like to be “abandoned”. And possibly in my ministry to women, God is allowing me go into the dark pit so that I can empathize with my sweet sisters in the Lord in a deeper, more intimate way.
Over the course of days which turned into weeks, God began to show me that He wants my whole heart. It’s what He spoke to me last year. Wholehearted woman.
To get my whole heart, I had to remove the sins of my self-sufficiency first. I had to realize that though I don’t recognize it, I need Him in a desperate way every breathing moment of my life.
He began to show me sins that were not sins I commit (as A.W Tozer puts it) but sins that are part of who I am. As they began to crawl out of me, it was disgusting. And the more disgusted I became with myself over sins that I never named as sins, I wanted to turn my face from God. I wanted to run and hide from Him.
But He wouldn’t let me. Instead, He let me sit in the dark of the pit, seeing the depth of sin and depravity that reside inside the human heart. My own heart. But then.
Cracks of light emerged. In the still of the dark, I began to hear His whispers. His truths. His Word.
Keep praying. Keep serving my people. Keep loving. I love you.
I’ve been tucked in His wings the entire time. Covered by His feathers.
More light entered. But my vision was still blurry for me eyes had been in the dark. I could see shadows now. He is here.
Our ENTIRE life is spiritual. Every second of the physical is spiritual. There are forces of darkness that seek to destroy. My life is held in the Father’s hand and nothing can snatch me out of His hand. But the enemy will use his demonic forces to cover us with the dark in order to hide the light.
His Word tells me that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. I claim that truth.
I began praying His Word.
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
7 Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
9 from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
Within 2 days of asking for prayers, I was overwhelmed by God. Friends began sending encouragement around the clock. Articles were slipped into my inbox that seemed like words from God meant for my heart alone. 36 hours after frantic calls for prayer, the deep, dark, wet blanket lifted.
Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
He lifted me from the slimy pit. Praise God.
The day He pulled me from the pit, I opened my eyes and the world looked familiar again. Nothing like it had looked for weeks.
I was afraid to claim victory yet. So I hesitantly moved through the days. Five days later, I spoke it out loud to Steve and my friend and mentor. “I’m back.”
Four terrifying and dark weeks, and I see God differently now. I love Him in a new way. He’s still refining me in His fire. He’s still pulling yuck out of me so I can be a vessel for Him. But. He’s answered a prayer that I’ve been praying for a year. “Lord, let me love you more.”
I love Him more. My passion is reignited.
Satan hopes my pride and claim to “privacy” will prevent me from sharing any of this with you. But I must share with you where I’ve been the last month because I’m convinced many reading this know exactly what I’m writing about. I’m convinced that many live in a dark place and are desperate for the light.
Prior to this experience I couldn’t relate to many of my sisters who struggle silently in the pit. Now, you will be in my prayers.
If you are in the pit, if you feel abandoned, keep speaking truth to the lies. Don’t stop praying. Claim victory in Christ. Share with a friend even if you feel ridiculous or misunderstood. Keep speaking truth and moving forward.
The pit feels as far as we can be from God, but I now believe it might be the closest we ever are to Him.