If you’re feeling defeated, you MUST listen to these lyrics.
When my hope and strength is gone You’re the One who calls me on You are the Life You are the Fight That’s in my soul
Oh, Your resurrection power Burns like fire in my heart
When waters rise I lift my eyes Up to Your throne
We are more than conquerors through Christ You have overcome this world, this life We will not bow to sin or to shame We are defiant in Your Name You are the Fire that cannot be tamed You are the Power in our veins Our Lord Our God Our Conqueror
I will sing into the night Christ is risen and on high Greater is He living in me Than in the world
No surrender, no retreat We are free and we’re redeemed We will declare over despair You are the Hope
Nothing is impossible Every chain is breakable With You we are victorious
You are stronger than our hearts You are greater than the dark With You we are victorious
Every nerve, every muscle sighed and cried fatigue and pain. My arms, my legs, my head seemed too much for the strength in my joints, my neck. I tottered helplessly on the edge of the hopelessness out of which I had so recently been lifted.
I can’t do this again, Lord. I won’t survive.
Why didn’t I feel better?
Following my second bout of depression beyond depression, I was stuck. No longer in the dark twisted depths where the only thoughts that brought some peace were thoughts of the end; when to bring an end to what seemed a life of failure and harm felt like the only reasonable solution. But still lost in a netherworld of apathy broken by bursts of anger, occasional sadness, and rare moments of feeling like myself.
The sunlight, the sand, the waves. The three children who ran and dug, splashed and laughed, who proudly showed me their found-rocks and built-sand-creations. The husband who picked up the camera I abandoned. So far away. All so far away. Even the sand beneath my feet, the cool water washing over; touching me, but not reaching me. Me, what was left of me, far away inside my head. Had I ever been complete? Touchable? Had I ever known faith?
God… God must be somewhere beyond the hard arc of blue over, behind, and beyond me. The impenetrable ceiling where my universe ended. Even this shrunken universe was more than I could stand. It was too big, too full, too empty. Hopeless, pointless. Grace was reserved for those who could appreciate it. And I stood beyond. Rejecting and rejected.
Wave after wave made their way to where I stood, each dragging sand from beneath my feet in the endless process of redecorating the shore. Me, they left standing. Staring down. Away from as much too-muchness as possible. I saw without seeing. The sunlight and clear water playing over pebbles smooth and gray.
Until something caught my eye.
One red stone. Wiggling as the waves tried to move it elsewhere. It… danced…
You’re the only one who is ever going to see this, just like this.
God broke through…
In a moment of true lucidity I realized, I believed, that before I was born, back when He was laying the foundations of the earth, my Father knew that this small red stone would be here. Here at this moment for my eyes only, to speak Truth into my emptiness. A moment of respite from the darkness, to give me hope. To remind me that He is there, He is here, and He loves me, even when I can’t feel it. To remind me that nothing is without purpose, that I may need to endure a little longer with a broken mind and heart but He will always use the times that feel like the worst for His glory… and my good if I let Him… and love Him.
It was a moment. That helped me survive to the next moment. Moments when I can’t deny the reality of grace. That once again expand into days, into life.
As sharing the reality of my experience with depression drew a different audience than earlier posts, so has my photo post, people looking for something different than those who were encouraged by what I share of what God teaches me on my faith journey.
It’s funny the difference a tag can make…
What do people see when they look at my pictures?
It makes me consider again what I try to capture as I use my camera alongside my pen in gift-listing. It’s not enough to look for gifts. It is pursuit of the Giver that makes them true grace-bearers. As I shared with my church family on Sunday, I must begin and end with God. To record grace, EVERYTHING must be rooted in gratitude. First for what Christ did for me on the cross. Am I truly grateful? Do I trust the Love that would go to such lengths? If so, I must, and can, choose to accept each moment, regardless of what it contains, as a gift…
There is grace available in each moment. Refusing to trust God for it through the hard times is tragic. We choose greater trauma, and more pain, when we try to run from our pain and from the Comforter.
We even arrogantly bring tragedy to inconvenience by shortsightedly allowing annoyance and frustration to drive a wedge between us and God; missing His whisper in the clamor of our discontent, missing the grace, missing the blessing.
And then there’s the mundane.
If my pictures accomplish nothing else, they have shown me how choosing to be grateful to God in each moment transforms each moment.
If I missed it during shutter-snaps at the sliver in my older son’s foot, I noticed looking back how little injuries allow me to be Mommy. My kids are reminded that they need and want me. Slivers, scrapes, bumps and bruises drive them to seek and receive comfort. They give them something they can endure and overcome. And, as with my son taking over the tweezers, injuries allow them to mature and give them chances to prove they can live what they’ve learned.
What’s your sliver? Are you trying to deny the pain? Do you long for the grace?
Pain and loss are inevitable realities of this life. But God loves you even more than I could ever love my kids. More than you can imagine.
He IS Love.
Where ever you are right now, He’s waiting for You to notice Him, His outstretched hand… the nail-scarred hand that offers grace to transform all your moments.
It dawned on me this morning, as I prepare to worship God by sharing what He’s doing in my life, that EVERYTHING we do is worship. Every moment has its motivation and focus… How often is it God? As Christians, we know that every moment is an opportunity to praise God as living sacrifices… but there’s more to it, isn’t there? Our lives ARE worship, each act an act of worship, whether or not we intend them to be.
So many idols! SELF. Family, friends, peers. Status. Money. Pleasure, entertainment.
LORD, please remind us that we our finite, and each moment we live glorifies something… Please give us the grace to let it be YOU!
“Sometimes it’s hard to look love square in the eye and accept the acceptance.”
The line jumped out at me, stopped me, confronted me. Made me cry in recognition.
I am well-acquainted with that eye-sliding discomfort.
I’ve come a long way, God has brought me a long way. But it can still be hard to believe that I am loved unconditionally… to see it in front of me when I don’t want to believe it… to accept acceptance when I feel it’s undeserved because I mess up… to believe that my next failure won’t bring a turning away… that there are people, my husband and friends, who find me worth loving and accept me despite me, who wait when I pull away.
The next line:
“Is this why we turn from God?”
It starts with understanding who God is, and who I am in Christ. I have received more patient grace than I deserve, from my heavenly Father and from my loved ones. And I need to be better at giving it. I don’t want my kids to ever feel that I think they are a failure, to confuse discipline with rejection, to feel like they don’t measure up to my expectations. My words, and my tone, must be sweeter. I want my home to be a place of peace and comfort for all who live or visit here.
Recently I was talking with Jeff about how I just don’t understand unconditional love. It’s a sad admission. But I don’t think it’s uncommon. Unconditional love is not a common thing in this world.
If I want to express unconditional love to my children, husband, and others, I first have to believe that it is a real, possible thing.
For God so loved the world…
What I am beyond grateful for this morning is my husband’s unconditional love. I don’t make it easy.
What I am beyond grateful for this morning is my Father’s unconditional love… Amazing Grace.