Friday, August 03, 2012

Prisoners of Hope

Today I'm feeling extremely grateful. Grateful for the hope of a bright future and that our present hurts and disappoints don't deter us from the greatness that God has locked up inside of us. Grateful that, for the first time in quite a long time, I'm excited for what the future holds!
Growth has been on my mind a lot lately. Specifically, the type of growth that only happens by going through hard times. It is from that type of growth that comes not only a deep wisdom and understanding, but also a deep compassion and tenderness for people and all of their humanity. Growth is the positive reaction to trials; all the while, bitterness fights as its opponent. It takes a determined heart not to let bitterness win the victory.
The last two years, our journey has been filled with ups and downs. Luckily and thankfully, I've had Matt by my side through it all.  Moving away from family is probably the hardest thing that I've ever had to do. Ever.  And it's only gotten harder with the arrival of my little niece. It's so hard not to think about how much I'm missing. It's not just birthdays and holidays anymore, it's missing out on watching my little niece smile for the first time, wondering what makes her laugh, and having to watch her grow up through a computer screen.  My heart aches for home and the familiar. I feel like my life has been nothing but uncertainty the past two years. After getting married and moving to Oklahoma, I finally felt like we had developed a routine. We had our cute little house we had finally transformed from a bachelor pad in to a home, two little poochies and a couple of very close friends. That all didn't last long, because after only nine short months of being married, we packed up our sweet little house and made the move to Tulsa and were going to move in with my in-laws for a couple months until we got settled and found a place of our own. Once again, it felt like the rug was pulled from underneath us as we discovered that the contract on our house fell through and we were stuck with a house in another city, living with my husband's parents, and struggling to make ends meet. That year was the most difficult as we both worked extremely hard to keep everything together financially, only to watch the money we had saved for our future home slowly drain. It felt like the life was draining right out of us. We both took those changes in stride {with a little lemon and salt}, and kept going.
Finally, in February, we had a huge financial burden lifted as we found someone who wanted to rent out our house. We both felt so relieved that we could once again, start rebuilding our savings account. It's been such a huge blessing!  However, this year gifted us with a different set of challenges. Challenges that I had heard countless stories about, but never experienced on a personal level. All the changes that these past two years have held finally caught up with my body and has spun me in to a whirlwind of depression and anxiety attacks. I won't go in to too many details, but I will say that for being a person who is usually very happy-go-lucky and glass half-full, I have never struggled more with the inner battle between deep sadness and an overwhelming sense of guilt, frustration, helplessness and complete darkness. Depression truly is a deep pit that feels completely hopeless.
But the thing I'm learning through all this {and granted, I have my days}, is that even though the situation seems hopeless, it's not. Even though the depression and anxiety attacks make me feel like I'm going crazy, I'm not.  I can only thank God that I've had Matt to be here helping me through everything. Having battled anxiety himself a few years ago, he's there to help remind me that this is not my fault, it's nothing I've done wrong, I'm not going crazy and deep breaths are my best friend. He is truly the human form of God's graciousness in my life.
Oddly enough, this whole journey makes me grateful. Grateful for days like this when I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Grateful that I woke up this morning, and the picture at the top of the screen was the first thing I saw, and I just knew it was God whispering to me the message of "hope". Grateful that God never disposes any of our hurts; He's as green as they come when it comes to recycling and making things new. And most of all, grateful for the love and support of family, who have been so gentle and patient with me through this process.
One of our good friends gave me the best analogy: sometimes our life is like a sling-shot. We have to take a few steps back in order to be launched forward in to our destiny. So maybe these setbacks are just pulling us farther and farther back in order to be released forward in to something so much greater than we could have ever imagined! The set backs are the ammunition that's used to launch us forward.  And as difficult as it seems some days, I'm reminding myself to stop looking at the destination and enjoy the journey. I keep reminding myself to live everyday on purpose. To not let any of my sadness overshadow the good days that we have here. And as my dad so eloquently puts it, "Do your best to soak up every moment; because when you look back, the good days will be the ones you remember. The bad ones will just fade away into the past." Thanks, dad.
So, this is my goal:

"To love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes, 
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you again."
{Ellen Bass}

I will grab life by the face, life that so often seems plain and ugly, and I will choose to unfold and dig up the passion that is buried deep within. My journey is more of a hunt. A treasure hunt. A treasure that was placed there by one who loves me, chose me and considers my soul the true treasure. The One who gave me this promise, and will not fail to fulfill it.

"As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you." 
{Zechariah 9:11-12}

Yes, friends. There is always hope.


Janis@All Things Beautiful said...

WOW! I'm a bit speechless...but so moved by how God used a pic to speak to your heart! HE IS SO GOOD TO US!! Your verse reminded me of the song based on scripture..."He gives Beauty for Ashes". Keep are dearly loved!!! Thank you for your honesty. I've been there too!

rbailey said...

In Christ there is always hope! I read a story once about someone that said they were in a dark place and when they opened their eyes all they could see was darkness, regardless of how hard they looked - just more darkness. And then they realized that Christ was holding them so close that all they could see was darkness but it was because His arms were wrapped around them so tightly. They could see nothing because His embrace was blocking all the light-their face was buried in His chest.
I KNOW I have been held that way so many times. In the midst of the darkness, in the midst of the depression, in the midst of the anxiety attacks, in the midst of the sleepless nights, my Savior was holding me tightly - He NEVER lets go. It will never cease to amaze me that He is holding us all that way - all at the same time.
Just like little Cambria - when she is crying and upset, you hold her close and tell her to be still -- to "sssshhhhh". God tells us to be still and know that He is God!!!! To "ssssshhhhh" and watch Him work in our lives. In Him there is always light - there is always hope!!

The Adventurer said...

Okay, every time I read your posts I am CONVINCED we are twins. You know, separated at birth and moved to states so close, yet so far from each other.

Grad school has plagued me with so many of these same feelings you mentioned. Enough to panic quite frequently and even take medication. I find that it is even MORE difficult because of my normal personality. As I am sure you can identify there are so many questions... "Why am I sad? I am usually so happy" or "This really upsets me but never has before. What is the deal?"

I completely hear you but am SO SERIOUSLY PUMPED at how much you have grown and changed. You are a wonderful, strong, and absolutely amazing woman and have come so far! (cue B. Spears "Stronger").

You're the best.

Kjerstin (The Way I Am) said...

You are so inspiring! I'm so happy things are looking up for you girl!! Keep up the positivity and things will keep falling into place!
Love, Kjerst

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