Ask me again in twenty years, and I will probably tell this story differently. Ask me again in a week and I may have a different view. But ask me at any time what I did yesterday and I will tell you that I started to celebrate real freedom.
Yesterday was the 4th of July! A day for being patriotic by wearing American flag shorts. A day for being with family and blowing up a bunch of things together. A day to celebrate no work by boating, bbq’ing and guzzling beer. A day, where I did none of that. This fourth was not a typical one for me. I did not dress up or really spend much time outside. I neither watched or launched fireworks. I did have a few sips of a beer while playing Pinochle I guess.
What I did on the fourth of July was watch a terrible day unfold into a turning point. I started to experience freedom in a way that I had never had before.
Bright and early on the fourth my husband, James, and I woke up and dressed to run the 10k we had signed up for with some friends (if you want to read about it more in detail you can go to my other blog here). I fell apart during the second mile and the race was a crushing defeat to me mentally. We came home with me limping, as my right foot had opened up old blisters and formed some new ones during the race. We came home with my eyes filling with tears, even more tears than the ones shed when I had to stop and walk that morning. We came home to all of the brokenness I had been facing in the past weeks crashing down on me in the form of every single old lie that was whispered to me during the worst days of my depression.
I wobbled toward my bed, my leg muscles beginning to stiffen from the run, and I crashed down into it. When my husband joined me I started sobbing, admitting defeat, and repeating all the lies that had been running through my head. I was done. I was not a runner and I should not be running races. I was passed by the old and the young, the fit and the unfit, we ended the race with only a few behind us. This was not meant for me. I am weak and pathetic. I will NOT run another race again.
Then the rest of it came pouring out as well.
You see, I had painted a target on my own back during the last couple of weeks, and the weekend before to be sure. I had issued a challenge to Satan during the last month of my life. My husband and I had started to take some big steps in our faith walk together. Our relationship with God was really blooming as we prayed more, read the Bible more, and talked more about our faith. We had found some wonderful spiritual mentors. We had made friends with a couple in their 30’s, who act like they are in their 20’s, and have created a family bond with them as we go over frequently to play games and to be mentored by them. They are blessed with many spiritual gifts. Him being the pastor of our church and her being his wife who is like me in so many ways it is scary! (But scary good!)
And last weekend was just adding the cherry on top of this Satan maddening sundae. Our church, both the traditional morning group and our international afternoon group, held a Prayer and Restoration conference. Our pastors wanted a time for us to step outside our normal church experiences and allow the Spirit to move and give us time to pray silently and come forward and have others lay hands on us and pray for us. We were thrilled to attend every service, one on Friday, two on Saturday, and two on Sunday, each of which lasting about 2 hours filled with listening to many people share their testimonies and singing praise to God. We also got an overload on doing what we love, singing and playing guitar for our praise team. That weekend was full of practicing as we had three services to sing for, each of which needing a half an hour of song.
Then, on Saturday, I stood before a mixture of our congregation and the international group and aided by an interpreter I shared my personal testimony. For the first time, I spoke out about my struggles with depression and cutting. I shared how God helped me learn to trust in him, to give my hurt to him, and to not struggle on my own. And I shared something I had only shared with six people before this. I shared the miracle that God gave to me.
I was warned by my mentors to prepare for what I had opened up. For what pleases the Lord angers the demons in our lives and the joy that I was riding on that weekend was probably going to be assaulted. So war struck up against me during my weakest moment, limping along on a 10k that I had been worrying about for weeks.
Along with the worries of my run I had been carrying a lot of weight concerning my future. I had recently left the comfy job at the bank to pursue my passions and to search for what God is calling me to do. So far, this has included putting in 10 hours a weak helping a Christian counseling center with marketing, social media, event planning and fundraising, putting my writing into practice with my blogs, and looking into a public speaking career. I had been searching for guidance, and hearing very little. This lack of guidance was more me putting most of my faith in myself and thinking of my gifts as my talents, not putting my faith in God and seeing my gifts as the blessings he has given me. It was not his silence, but my lack of listening.
After the sobs for the 10k started to cease and I had shared how worthless I had felt that morning, my husband could do nothing but hold me as a new onslaught began and through my fresh tears I vented all. That 10k had been symbolized my life as I ran it. I had started out with a promise, with a hope. I had showed that I had some talent previously and now I should be able to do better. I should be able to finish stronger. But instead I watched as others did better, were rewarded, and enjoyed their run. They did not deserve it. I deserved it. I was more athletic than them, I was prettier than them, I was more talented than them. . . . or was I? No, I am losing at this race, losing at this life, and being passed by others because I am worthless. I am a failure. I am ugly. I am nothing.
The thoughts of my depression in high school. The lies Satan has whispered to me more times than I could count transferred over into my new life. “You will not succeed at this new marketing job. Sure it is what you love and what you went to school for, but you lack the talent and lack the drive. So don’t try to hard, for if you try really hard and you fail it will hurt and everyone will be disappointed in you. Writing? Ha. You gave that up years ago. Sure your high school English teacher loved your words and encouraged your talent. But you learned the truth in college when others were better and your professor was shocked by your misuse of punctuation and sentence structure. A public speaking career?!?! Are you serious? You think your measly experience on the speech team will help you with that? What about that one year when the rest of your team made it to sectionals and you cried like a baby outside because your name did not appear on the list? You have no talent there. . .”
Whisper. Whisper. Whisper. “Give up. Survive like you did in high school. You are raw and you hurt from this past month of opening up and trying to grow. It is useless. You hurt. So scab up. Take the old shield of fake smiles, sarcasm, and social norms that you hid in during high school and live behind it again. It hurt less then. It disappointed less. If you do not try, you cannot fail. You hate being a failure right? So why set yourself up for it?” Whisper . . .
If you had clicked over and read my other story of this day, the one I had written after waking up from my nap that followed my run and my tears, you had seen that I had entitled it “I Would Like To Tell You A Story of My Victory” and I had ended it with “I would like to tell you a story of my victory. Unfortunately, that seems to be a story of another day.” Oh how wrong I was.