In my previous post, “The Struggle,” I began detailing my journey through the valley, and my eventual discovery of a “benefit” to the darkness that began to surround me. The story continues…
During this time, I felt like everything and everyone had passed me by. I even felt like God Himself had passed me by. Most of my friends were moving onward and upward, some of them into influential ministry positions, with many becoming missionaries in Africa, Europe, Asia, and The Middle East. How could I face them? Their lives were filled with adventure, excitement, and intrigue. Mine felt like it was falling apart all around me. How could I listen to their stories of miraculous healings and provision when I was praying to have enough strength to find a place to lay my head for the night? My perception of my own inadequacy was smothering the fire that had once burned in my heart.
How could I hear about them falling deeply in love and marrying other world-changers while I had given up the chance to be in a relationship with a wonderful young woman? I made the choice to give it up, even though she seemed like the perfect match. All because I made a “mistake”, which proved to be fatal to our non-existent relationship… I asked God what He thought about it. He was nothing if not faithful to reveal to me His perspective on the issue. He took me to Romans 12:1-2, a passage that I had been familiar with since childhood.
“I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” (AMP) (emphasis mine)
God showed me that even though she was a seemingly perfect match, we would divert one another from the fulfillment of our respective destinies. She was my “good acceptable and perfect,” but she was not God’s “good acceptable and perfect” for me, nor was I for her. He had someone better for both of us.
So I chose to follow His voice, and made the decision that she would never even know anything about my previous intent, because I did not want to become an obstacle for her when she finds the man who was made for her. (Eventually, God began to show me some very specific details about the woman who I will marry, but that, my friends is a different story. Another time perhaps…)
It was the darkest period of my entire life. I had completely lost a vision for the future, and life quickly became a daily struggle to survive. Eventually, I fell into a place of hopelessness, questioning everything I had ever learned about God, faith, and my purpose in this world. My theology had been built around the avoidance of such things. I even began contemplating ways to make the pain and heartache stop… Permanently. I had lost the strength to fight. I didn’t want to live anymore. I apologize if that is too blunt for you, but that is the reality of what I was feeling at the time.
I had never encountered such depression, hopelessness, or despair. It felt like God was silent. It felt like everyone would be better off without me. I felt just like George Bailey from the classic movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” I felt like I was worth more dead than alive.
In light of the tragic circumstances surrounding actor and comedian Robin Williams, I knew that I was supposed to share my own experience with the strongholds called depression and suicide, even though I would much rather keep this particularly personal detail of my story in the shadows. (Remember the part about how I don’t like being vulnerable?) But I am convinced that transparency will always lead to transformation, and I want my story to bring awareness of these issues, and hope to those who are hurting. Depression and suicide are both very real struggles in our world today, whether because of chemical imbalance, loss of hope, fear, demonic oppression, or a combination of factors.
I believe that Christianity as a whole has done an abysmal job of responding to those affected by depression or thoughts of suicide, using the Word of God to wound, instead of to heal. I would seriously encourage you to determine what your response will be to those who find themselves in the valley of the shadow of death. Please, speak words of truth in LOVE, not condemnation or trying “rationally” to diminish or belittle what your loved one is going through. When I was in depression, I was definitely not thinking “rationally”, my vision was skewed, and a logical discussion filled with pros and cons would have been the last thing that I needed in those moments.
Now, before anyone reading this tries to mentally put me in a “box”, discounting me, or my reactions to my pain as weak, selfish, or sinful, I would ask you this: Have you ever lost the will to live? Have you ever felt as though you had lost every single battle before the war had even begun? Do you know what it is to be unmade? To fight for each breath against the crushing weight of your own existence? Well, I do, and if you are reading this, and you feel any of these things, I beg you to fall on your face before God, and to seek the advice and counsel of someone who you trust before you make any life-altering decisions.
Of course, every person is of infinite value to The Creator, but I had lost sight of that. Had it not been for the intervention of God, His tender mercy and loving-kindness, His overwhelming compassion, and the whispers of His steadfast love, I can say that I would not be alive to write this. Yet, out of this place of intense pain and nearly overwhelming sorrow and warfare, I found it. The Benefit of Darkness. However, it took me a little bit longer to realize exactly what I had found…
Be sure to read the next installment of this series, and discover “The Solution.”