Last night was just overly redeeming and encouraging. Just more than I could have hoped or asked for.
Yesterday started as a rough day. It had continued in the night before. Sleep had been rough. Not enough and unsettling. Not at all refreshing.
The day was full of just darkness being pressed upon me.
Lies and thoughts that accused and beat me down were pretty constant and ruthless. They made it hard to breathe let alone receive much of anything.
I’ve learned that one of the most important things to do when things are hard is just to simply keep showing up.
I had resolved in my heart that me just walking in the door was worship. That in itself was enough.
But as the day progressed I let myself feel the guilt. I felt like a spoiled brat. I felt like I was getting it all wrong. I had a whole list of the things that I should be doing. I should be praying for others more. I should be forcing myself to interact with people. I should be able to feel happy. I should be enjoying conference because it seemed mostly everyone else was. I should be more thankful. I shouldn’t still be struggling the way I do.
The night had continued in that. I wasn't able to stand among everyone else during worship. I pulled myself out and stood on the sidelines. I didn’t raise my hands. I didn’t sing the words. I just observed everyone else. I just couldn’t do it tonight. I told Jesus I was sorry, but I just couldn’t go there. I felt guilt and I felt awful, but it was where I was.
After worship my husband found us a seat. We left the “enclosed safety” of the soundbooth. But at least I was with him. I sat down next to him still feeling the lingering shame of not being enough. Of not being good enough.
But something happened. During the teaching I felt pieces of the stronghold on me breaking away. I felt the comfort of hearing one of the pastors I was familiar with. With listening to the man that did my wedding. His voice was soothing to me. I felt peace settling. As he preached he talked through something that I had heard Jesus telling me weeks ago. Words that brought me another new level of peace and encouragement. As I listened to him, I slowly recognized that the lies were being silenced. My freedom was once again being experienced.
I turned to Greg and told him that I had heard that very thing before. A speculation from my pastor that I also shared. He smiled at me. Minutes later I was able to turn to him and tell him that I was feeling better. Again his smile.
At times being married makes going through hard times a bit more difficult and weightier. My life is now connected with another. He shared in my pain in suffering now. That brings a bit of comfort but also a humbling reality. The things that hurt me also hurt my husband. My tendency is to want to pull away. Not because I don’t trust him. Not because I don’t feel safe. But because I love him more than I love myself. And I don’t want him to have to experience the things that I do. But he’s teaching me something. Love is willingness to walk next to someone through it all. And he does it well.
The rest of the teaching was one that just spoke to where I was at. The words felt spoken specifically for me at times. It felt good to be able to breathe easier. To experience hope again. To be reminded what I’m fighting for. And that this fight won’t be forever. A time is coming where the struggle will be over. There are great things to look forward to.
As the preaching ended and his prayer began, I heard Greg leave my side. He had work to do in the soundbooth.
Prayer ended and the music began for worship. My eyes were closed. I heard the voice of my dear friend singing. One that I love more than I can express. A woman that I just feel a deep connection to and love for. I felt a bit of the remnants from before when I had withdrawn from worship. I felt the shame of not choosing what I thought I should have.
But as she sang, I felt the invitation. I felt the soft whisper. “Worship with your friend. Let it just be us.” And so I did. I raised my hands. I let everything else fall away. In those minutes, it was her and me and Jesus. Her voice was a comfort. It was soothing to my soul. It allowed me to be in a safe place to present myself to our Father. To seek Him and offer what He deserved. Nothing else matters. Nothing else even existed in that time.
These are the moments that keep me going. These are the moments that make everything worth it. The sweetness and depth and just... I can’t even describe it. It has to be experienced to be known. And even that knowing isn’t full. It’s still beyond comprehension.
And I heard the voice again. The warmth and the love. I was reminded that the time before where I wasn’t able to worship really didn’t matter. I was reminded that I was loved. Not for the things I do or don’t do, but simply for who I am. I would have all of eternity to worship him. Minutes on this earth don’t matter much in comparison. It just blew me away the amount of love and freedom I felt. This lesson was one I was learning, but it easily escaped my grasp. I didn’t have to do a single thing to make Jesus love me more. I was His. And that was enough.
I felt another dear friend come up and put his hand on my shoulder. A man whose friendship means so much to my husband. He spoke words over me that are still ringing in my ears. Sweet words that have been written on my soul. Things sacred and wonderful. Tears came to my eyes. Emotion swelled deep. He finished and I felt his hand lift. Quickly I opened my eyes and hugged him. It was one of those real hugs. The kind where you don’t want to let go. Where seconds linger and expand. I held him tight and felt him doing the same. He wasn’t going to let go until I made the first move. It was just wonderful.
As I let him go I looked behind me and saw Greg looking at us, smiling. That moment was for him too.
The day had made a complete turnaround in a matter of minutes. I continued to worship. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness and gratitude. The smile didn’t even leave my face.
The rest of the night felt completely different. Redeemed. A night redeemed.
I chatted with Greg on the drive home. I saw the joy in his face. The hard times are worth it. This life is worth it. And it’s good.
I walked out the door today and saw our bush full of flowers. It stormed hard last night. Loud thunder and lightning flashed through the sky. Our dog, Meg, slept in-between us, because the storms scare her. It felt nice to be able to offer comfort. The flowers were a reminder of the purpose of the rain and darkness. The lingering raindrops brought an added beauty.
It’s a new day.