Monday, December 30, 2019

even when He doesn't


yet again. i was sitting on the deeper than denim blue couch in our living room, in the southern state feeling like my internal state was heading south.

twenty-four hours before had been great. one of my nashville highlights of a human said it: we should go to michigan. i was going to learn to stand on two feet on a board on a lake, riding waves while we explored where child-her called home. 

post climbing up rock walls at 6am, we were in her white pickup by 7:30 while I cranked out 1) work with a wifi hotspot 2) jams, so many 3) conversations, so deep--as usual when our two souls open up and spring forth what the Spirit’s been doing.

but this learning-how-to-surf-trip turned stepping-on-metal-in-the-water-and-ending-up-with-intense-stictches-and-crutches. our michigan plans shifted as I learned to shift my balance from two feet to one, not able to put pressure on the jagged laceration for about a week.

by the time we returned home, i’d been hobbling for a few days. the distance between my house’s door and the bathroom seemed like a trek. pulling my pant leg over my foot seemed almost insurmountable. but more insurmountable were the piles of piles of work i seemed to need to do (that i never could seem to get ahead on), the fact I had an outside-of-work team meeting in just a few hours (but which I never seemed to be giving enough time), that the laundry was piling up so high (that i had to schedule time to put it away… a week from now because that’d be the first chance I'd get), that my sister was coming home later (and I’d neglected her and been not enough support for her entire life basically), that I had daily things like grocery shopping and finding a financial advisor and communicating with friends in minnesota (that consistently just seemed to be slipping through my grasp), that here i was again stressed out and burning out (but not?) adrenaline fueled but adrenaline drained, trying to not do too much and to be enough but feeling I was too much and wasn't doing enough.

and it came.
it came like it hadn’t in a long time.

i’d learned. i’d put in a lot of hard work on the depression that started over a year ago. October 2018 - December 2018 was rough. but i’d learned how i needed to take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, simple things like the power of turning on music, tangible things like switching activities and taking small wins, practical things like reading. i’d learned that my mind, yes is a mind palace, but the layers deep down that i live in don’t help others if i never come out. i’d worked through roots and been digging deep. and, i’d learned that sometimes, now—when it’s so much better—it will still try to spike and strike me. and i just have to surrender to what only Jesus can do, and take the steps to fight it.

but this time, it wasn’t working.
i sat, denim blue couch down and panic rising.
my heart started beating faster, my mind was racing: empty, a lot, not enough.
i pulled up my yellow email inbox again, then had to get up because my mind froze up, and i just couldn’t.

my meeting was now a half an hour away, but I was miles away from being in a state to go. so, i left a (probably kind of terrifying) voice message for one of the team members, telling her I couldn't come. then, i called my mom, and tried to be talked out of it.

mom, it’s not working like it usually does. mom, i was talking to my friend this past weekend of how much better i’m doing. mom, i don’t understand. mom, why hasn’t God taken this completely away by now?

she didn’t know exactly what to do either. but she knew i couldn’t be alone, and i was learning to admit that, too. i sent a text to a dear friend: “hey, i’m not doing super well, work has been really hard to focus on today, and there’s a lot going on in my mind. would you be willing to come over and just be here? if not NO worries at all!! just checking” reaching out: that's about the last thing I tend to do, and such a “causal” text, for me, was my mind and heart sending an SOS call.

i’d let my roommate know, and she—working—couldn’t come home, but she knew how bad it was and called my friends to send them over. they: super willing to come. me: having to be humbled to let them in to the unfinished chaos, the nonsensical parts of my life that just feel like they’re stuck in a process of spinning wheels.

their words and hugs were so helpful, to quiet me and reassure me that ground was beneath my feet and oxygen was in my lungs, to help get my out of the layers in my head. but i was so frustrated. why, Abba? why, when You are such a good Father, do you not just take this away? I’m seeking You. I’m following You. I’ am Yours, and I almost obsess too much over obeying Your will because I want it so badly. So why?

Maybe it’s not so much of an “if” but of a “when.” Not if one day we aren’t going to understand why God is letting us walk through what we are walking through and not taking it away immediately, but when we face trials of various kinds (James 1: 2-4). Not if God ever calls us to surrender our desire to be “free” from the things that plague us and to “have the answers” we want--why He's calling us to endure, why we are experiencing things that don't make sense. These times will come. It's a when, not an if.

I’d read it in Keller's Counterfeit Gods. He was talking, simply. Asking for us to examine what in our lives we think is necessary that, in reality, is not. I feel like being completely freed of this chaos inside of my mind, these depressive type moments, that is what is necessary in my life. That’s even what’s necessary for God to use me. And, I do believe the Lord sees my pain and is fully able to heal me utterly, completely, immediately. And I’m still earnestly praying that He will, and do so soon.

But, what if this is a struggle that He calls me to walk through, for the foreseeable now? Not once, but multiple times? What if this is a part of my cost of discipleship? That my honoring of God looks like a trust in Him even here?

It’s an even-when-He-doesn’t.

An even when He doesn’t take the depressive panic attack away in the moment, a choice to believe that He sees His children.
An even when He doesn’t bring immediate freedom to the crazy thoughts in my mind that want to discourage and paralyze me, a choice to praise Him regardless of my “state.”
An even when He doesn’t give me the clear answers I think I need, a choice to keep following Him with each next step.

It’s an even when He doesn’t that looks to even what He always does. He is always the Sovereign Lord. He is always the Supreme King. He is always a loving Father as much as a just Ruler. He is always worthy of praise and surrender and following, even when what my life looks like doesn’t seem like the “freedom” that many tell Christians it always should.

Because even when He doesn’t, He already has. He’s gone to the cross, and I get to choose to fix my heart, mind, soul, strength on the Gospel again, again, and again. And what a small price that is to pay.

For when He doesn’t, He has. So? I will. I’ll take the next step, and the next, and the next.

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