This has been a difficult month, our church has been embroiled in controversy, and my husband (Brian) and I have been getting ready to move, possibly out of state. Brian's Grandfather died last week, and we have been mourning his loss. And I have been struggling with feelings of tiredness, grief, and weariness. Today, I sat in my kitchen trying desperately to move, and I couldn't understand why I was having such a hard time getting going. In the midst of all that is going on, I just want to sit still. Why did I feel like this? And then, I remembered, that this month marks ten years since my friend and I were victims of attempted assault, and all the feelings of fear and hurt welled up in me. And I remembered those moments as vividly as if they were yesterday.
We were walking down Headley Way from a friend's dorm room late one night, during "Fresher's Week." When a man was indecent, tried to stop us, and behaved in a threatening and intimidating way that left us both shaken and confused. Thankfully, we were together. As someone who had experienced abuse when I was much younger, this experience was deeply traumatizing, beginning a process of bringing up memories and hurts from the past that I had not ever remembered before. Seeking for assurance and safety, I clung to those that I felt most secure with, knowing that my only true comfort was God, I simultaneously felt betrayed by him and as though I could not turn to him. Deeply wounded and hurt, yearning for safety and security to the point of worship, I found myself sinking into blackness. I was 11 years into a 12 year cycle of depression, and as the year progressed I fell deeper and deeper into the darkness, until the only way that I could survive was if God did a miracle in me. Thankfully, he did.
First I found myself waking up in the mornings, paralyzed with emotional exhaustion, but remembering and speaking to myself the character and nature of God. Remembering that he is a good, just, loving, righteous, kind, generous, faithful, all-knowing, all-powerful, amazing and wonderful God. And I found myself living, in spite of all the pain the filled and overwhelmed me. Then, through godly people at my church, many of whom were fellow students, he showed me Jesus. He gave me his word, and I felt so driven to read it, that I could not have resisted even if I had wanted to. He showed me that I was seeking in others what I would only find in him. Over the following Summer he partially removed, a friendship that I had begun to idolize, and showed me how much more fitting for the pedestal He was than the person that I had raised up. He helped me see that
Healing began, and the next September I realized that the depression had begun to lift, and I was free of it for more than five years. Five years of freedom from something that had been my reality for half my life until that point. Even though the depression would return, I look back and see those years, with all their difficulties and struggles, as an amazing gift. And I realize that through everything, every hardship, every hurt, every hope and every joy, God has proven himself true over and over again, in so many different and amazing ways. He really is an amazing and great God, far bigger than any of my circumstances. And he reminded me of this truth tonight. He has always loved me, in so many ways. And he has been healing me through so many different means, including through the church that I am now a part of, which is now struggling so heartbreakingly.
Tonight, I went out by myself after dark. I walked through the parking lot, alone, and did my grocery shopping among strangers. And I didn't feel fear. I wasn't afraid when a man spoke to me. I wasn't terrified when I was making trips to and from my car in the dark, to bring the groceries into my house. Because even though I feel sadness and grieve over the wrongs that I have experienced in my life, they are not the power that controls me. The power that controls me is the Spirit of God within me. So I may grieve, and struggle through inaction for a short time, while I am trying to process all that has passed. But those things do not control my life, Jesus does. In Colossians 1:11 Paul prays that the Colossians will be "...strengthened with all power according to his [Jesus] glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy..." and he reminds them that, "He [Jesus] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
I still walk through the darkness of this world, but I am in the domain of Christ. I still sit here in this world, but I am free from this world because of Jesus. For, as it says later in Colossians 1, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." (Colossians 1:15-20)