Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The Lonely Walk
"No matter how many good friends I had, there were aspects of my life I needed to deal with alone - heart issues and attitudes that could not be wrestled with in a Bible study...They had to be confronted by the Holy Spirit in the privacy of my own soul."
~ "A Glimpse of Grace" by Mary Forsythe (with Beth Clark)~
I appreciated this quote I read the other morning on ShoutLife friend Bonnie Winter's site. It instantly brought to remembrance the months of soul darkness I experienced about ten years ago.
I had it all--a loving husband, grown children who were happily married, a job, an active role in the church where my husband pastored, a beautiful home. But something was missing. Something gnawed at me from the inside out, and the dark pit of depression swallowed me up.
I began to doubt the existence of God (and remember, I was a pastor's wife) and His work in my life. I lost joy in my family, job, church, and life in general. Desolation overwhelmed me. My husband gave up his pastorate, telling me I was his main ministry. But even that was not enough. I quit my job, thinking the stress of managing an Alzheimer's unit was the cause of my despair. If anything, things just got worse.
My turnaround came when I spent time by myself. We were empty-nester's by then, so I made one bedroom into my sanctuary. Only I was allowed in there. I wasn't interested in reading the Bible at the beginning of my journey, but spent hours reading through a book my Christian counselor recommended, journaling, and crying. Lots of crying. It was during those weeks of finding out who I really was on the inside, rather than what I portrayed to others, that the hard work of the soul was accomplished. I began to see that my Christian life was tied up with trying to earn approval from God and other people, rather than just resting in the mercy and grace of Christ.
Once I got that figured out the depression lifted. I now try to not accept responsibilities simply to please others, but to do ministry if I believe that is what the Lord is asking me to do. I'm living in freedom.
But as the opening paragraph stated, there was work that had to be done in private in order to have an authentic life to be lived in public. How thankful I am that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus provides all I need to live in security rather than scrambling to earn God's favor.