This morning, my pastor talked about how we can be defined and held back by the things that happen to us or the lies we believe to be true. He told how our doubts, denial and grief can keep us from fulfilling our full potential. It was a great sermon.
For much of my life, I was defined by denial. I believed what I wanted to believe--whether it was true or not. That works for a while, but eventually, the truth catches up with you. It definitely caught up with me about 10 years ago. They say that ignorance is bliss and it's true. Shallowness is a great place to be until you run head on with a disaster that you can't fix or dream away. I've become much more of a realist in recent years.
As I listened to my pastor this morning, I realized that from November, 2008 through about February, 2009, I was being defined by my grief. Not just the grief of losing my daughter, although that contributes to everything I feel. But more like the grief that results from all the unfulfilled dreams and expectations I had for my life and my kids' lives. Life has just not turned out like I had planned, and for a few months, I lost hope. I wondered if I could ever find joy again. A cloud of depression began to settle over me.
According to Gallup's "Now Discover You Strengths," my number one strength is Positivity. The Kiersy Temperament Sorter tells me I am a very strong extrovert. Another personality test says I'm a "popular sanguine." I can usually find the silver lining of every cloud. I can take almost any negative event and turn it into a positive. I love being with people and I laugh easily. But for those months in '08 and '09, I could find no silver lining. I could not pull myself up by my bootstraps. During that time, I wanted nothing to do with people. I wanted to isolate myself. People irritated me, and I know I irritated many of my friends and coworkers. I was cynical. It hurt me to see other people being blessed. I was extremely angry with God.
I have enough E.Q. to know that isolating yourself during times of depression is the worst thing you can do. So, even though I wanted to quit my job, my church or anything that brought me in contact with people, I knew I couldn't do it. I forced myself to get up every morning and get out of the house. My friends and my husband, despite my unlikeableness (is that a word?) continued to support me and walk with me through those days. I was even pretty mean to some of them. Thank God for friends who stick with you through times like that! They continued to call me when I didn't show up for regularly scheduled events. They wouldn't let me disappear like I thought I wanted to.
I am so thankful that I've finally begun to pull out of that pit. Have my circumstances changed? Not much. Am I still waiting for some things from God? Oh, yeah. Am I still grieving? Yes. But I am no longer letting those things hold me down. Thanks to the faithfulness of God and a handful of friends and family and my faithful husband, I am better.
God was so faithful to me at a time when I was not very faithful at all. I was angry at God, and I told him so. A few people tried to help me by saying, "God is in control." That made me even angrier. If what has gone on is a result of God being in control, I wanted no more of it. I didn't like God's control and if I could have, I would have taken control of things myself. I was tired of the way God was controlling things. At times I came close to cursing God, while begging for his forgiveness at the same time. I knew I couldn't live without him, but I wasn't sure I could live with him either. What a dark place to be.
The light always looks brighter when you've been in the dark. So, in a way, I'm thankful for the dark times because they help me to appreciate the brighter days. Today is a gloomy, rainy day outside, but I have a renewed hope in me that God's providence will prevail. My continual prayer for now is, "I trust You, Lord. I trust You." And my story is... to be continued.