Be Still In The Changes
I’ve been brutally frank and frighteningly honest
with you all recently in my Word of Encouragements. Many are struggling these days with anxiety, fear, depression, and I am one of them. I’ve fought this battle before and made it through, and I will make it again. But it takes time. This kind of struggle is never the same twice, nor is healing the same twice. And I don’t know if you actually “heal” from this or if it just goes into remission, like cancer. It is a cancer, in a way. It eats away at your confidence, capabilities, at your very soul.
One of the things that really irritates me is people who think you can just “move on”. “I get the blues too you just have to power through it!” I’ve heard that kind of thing many times in the past. It’s not that kind of battle though. It’s not the blues. It’s pressure in the chest, blood suddenly racing your heart. Or it’s a cement block weighing on you, or a cloud of black darkness hanging over your head. It’s your head full of noise so loud you can barely hold on to your sanity. Or it’s a silent void where you can’t grasp a thought and hold on to it. Sometimes it’s all of those. You can’t outrun it. You can’t push it off. You can’t power through it or shake it off.
You have to nip away at it, tiny bits at a time. Forcing yourself to ride with your husband to the grocery, even though you can’t make yourself go inside. That’s a victory. Ten minutes in a store before panic hits when the last time it was eight minutes…that’s a victory. Twenty minutes riding in the car before you’re desperate for home when the last time it was fifteen. That’s a victory. I take each of those victories to heart in my worst moments and remind myself that while it may only be 2-3 minutes, it’s 2-3 minutes better than it was. I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I will eventually…and I’ll pray it’s the sunshine and not an oncoming train.
If you are also fighting this battle, know that I am there with you. You’re not alone, though you may feel it. I pray that you have family and loved ones around you who you can be honest with and who will uplift and love you through this. I am blessed that I do.
I’ve been in a season of change for the last five years, and it’s still going. Even in my quieter moments I can feel the restlessness, the stirring that tells me God has something coming to me. (Well, this isn’t the something I was thinking it would be so I hope it’s something else coming!) Being raised a Navy brat I had to be adaptable. We moved often, lived in very diverse cultures. Change was the order of the day. I moved to the US from Europe by myself at 18 years 15 days old when I hadn’t been here since I was 11. I’ve always been able to take whatever came without a huge fuss. (Well except for when I was told I had to leave Hawaii. That was leaving my heart behind. I did kind of fuss over that.) But this change…this this change inside me…I’m not dealing with it very well. That bothers me. It kind of adds to the noise in my head. I’m a very organized person. My husband says organizing is my superpower. And it really bothers me that my brain is so messy!
My pastor has been doing a series on “Emerging From The Storm” and it really speaks to me each week. It’s like he’s preaching straight to me. And the pastors and worship leader work together so well, in our services every last thing supports the message of the week. So the readings, the music, prayers and benediction all go together to reinforce the message of that week. As I said in the last Word, music speaks loudly to me, and our worship leader always seems to pick the songs with the message I need to hear. This week one of them was “Be Still My Soul”, a beautiful hymn written in 1742 by Katarina Amalia von Schlegel. I love the whole text but the first verse speaks the loudest to me. In fact I have the words to this posted on the wall over my desk at work.
“Be still my soul: the Lord is on your side; bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to your God to order and provide; in ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul: your best, your heav’nly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”
God is on my side. What more do I need? He may put a path of thorns ahead of me, or hand me a cross of pain to carry for a while but He still leads me on that path. He will order the way and provide my needs on that path. He may (and will) bring change and whether or not I like that change He will lead me through it to that eternal joyful end.
Something my pastor said this week really stuck. Lamentations 3:1-24 was the passage. Vs 1-20 the speaker is a man beset with burdens and trials. He talks about all the deeply painful things that have besieged him. He says he has been imprisoned and wrapped in chains. He says God is like a bear waiting to attack, like a hunter with his arrow locked on him. He endures hardship and sorrow so that his soul is bowed down with it. Literally or metaphorically it doesn’t matter. Each verse we read seemed to speak to my own soul. But vs 21 changes…”But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.”
My ears perked up at this. After all the bitter onslaught of grief the speaker has endured he has hope. What is that hope, you ask? Vs 22-24 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” Oh, dearest Lord, my soul sighs.
My pastor said, at this point in his sermon, that there is the Light I look for. We have hope in Christ. It does not mean we will be taken out of the storm, or even that the storm will lighten. It doesn’t mean the pain will go away, the fear ease, the panic attacks cease. But it means that we have hope for the future, that we have hope the storm will end eventually, and we have hope for our eternal joy when all our tears will be wiped away and our souls will be filled with the peace that passes all understanding. Our hope is in Jesus, and the writer of Lamentations 3 knew that even though he did not yet know Jesus’ name.
To all of you that walk through this valley of the shadow of fear, panic, uncertainty, grief: know that you do not walk alone and you do not walk towards disaster but you walk towards Christ. You may be on this walk for another day, or you may be on it for years. But no matter how long or short, our path will end with Christ’s open arms and He will enfold us forever in His love.
Nothing left to say but Amen, come Lord Jesus.