The Lord is my Shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the path of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
-Psalm 23 (NKJV)
It’s the first week of the new year and God is already trying to bring me to the end of myself. Last year was a year full of emotional turmoil, yet, God decided that it was time for me to confront those issues through His grace. There is one moment from last year that sums up my own personal journey:
I was on Tumblr one evening, scrolling through this Christian blog that answers questions from all types of people (i.e. Christians, agnostics, atheists, Jews, etc). I was compelled to ask a question, seeing that I was curious as to what response I was going to get. The question that I asked stemmed from my own inner journey. I asked, “What happens when a Christian is experiencing a ‘dry spell’ (meaning they feel alone, craving human connection, and feeling like God is silent) in their walk with God? Does it mean that they did something wrong or is it a sign of growth?” After I submitted my question, a picture popped up on the same blog that challenged me to see my dry spell in a new way. The picture was a text written in front of an image of someone with their legs crossed. The text said: “Do you trust me even when my answer is wait?”
In a world that revolves around instant gratification, I often fall into the trap of wanting to have everything come quick and easy. I think about my future more than I actually focus on my present. Right now, God is taking me through the dark valley of depression. I entered this valley due to complications in my parent’s marriage. While I traverse this valley, I am discovering my gifts, strengths, weaknesses, and basically my purpose for being on this Earth. To be honest, I hate this self-discovery/healing process. I sometimes wish that I could fast forward to the part of my life where I am a successful, married, mother of three, who is making a difference for God by shining the light of His love in this dark world.
For now, I have to settle with the constant tears, the raging hormones, the social anxiety, the laziness, the doubt, and the silence. The silence is killing me. It eats me up inside. I’ve never felt this hollow in my life. It feels like God isn’t there and it feels like people don’t understand. It feels like I’m all alone and it causes me to isolate myself from others. It makes me think that the bitterness toward my past is haunting my present. I try to put those feelings in a box, but they leak into every area of my life. I can’t even focus on school work without going into an emotional tangent in my mind.
I used to feel embarrassed to say that I felt at odds with God. After years of trying to weather the storms of life on my own, God graciously brought me back to His saving grace. At the beginning of this year, I wrote a short prayer to God thanking Him for bring me through last year and for showing me that His grace was more than enough to carry me through. I made a declaration for the new year at the end of my prayer. It stated:
I choose to trust Your plan for this new year. I choose to walk through this valley, keeping my eyes on the Good Shepherd. I don’t normally partake in making New Year’s resolutions, but this year, I am declaring you, Jesus, as Lord of my life. I declare that this year is in Your hands. I will trust You when the fear of the unknown overwhelms me. I will trust you when the doubts come to shift my focus. I will trust you when the tears come rushing in like a flood. I will trust you when I don’t feel Your presence. I will trust you when the enemy seeks to kill my soul, steal my joy, and destroy my relationship with You. Healing takes time; it is a process. Freedom doesn’t come overnight, it comes by choosing to walk with You during the storms of life. Lord, I am ready to reclaim my freedom! I am ready for what You have in store for me this year.
As if He read my prayer Himself, God answered me on January 5th, with a few verses that confirmed my victory for 2018:
Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters,
Who brings forth the chariot and the horse,
The army and the power (they shall lie down together, they shall not rise; they are extinguished, they are quenched like a wick):
“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
The beast of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen.
This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.
-Isaiah 43:15-21 (NKJV)
I may not know what the future has in store for me, but if the darkness never lifts, I know that Jesus is enough for me. I will be able to say, like David, “yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4).