Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel

Well, Lord, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and although I know that you were fully aware of it, this has come as a bit of a surprise to me, to be honest. I know that tunnels usually have light at the end of them, but this one has been unlike any other tunnel that I've been in. It's been darker and more unfamiliar and frightening than anything I've known before. The last few days have been dark indeed, and for a few days there I couldn't see even a speck of light in the distance.

Turns out the tunnel had a bend in it. The other side was there, and closer than I thought, but I just couldn't see it.

My God, what a few days it's been. I've been so down. Today I feel better; I wouldn't say I have a spring in my step, but I definitely feel a bit better. I sat here in front of my computer earlier on and suddenly thought, 'Do I feel better?'

Coffee mug halfway to my mouth, I stopped and considered it and to my surprise, it turns out that I did feel better, yes.

So what happened? (Do you want to say, or shall I?)

I've got to hand it to you; this prayer thing works. You answered my prayer and I can only thank you and thank you and thank you. I've been frightened and you came to rescue me. I was like a rabbit in the middle of a road and it felt as if I were paralysed in the face of a juggernaut coming to flatten me.

Five days ago I took hold of my life and decided that things were going to be different. I wasn't going to live in the shadow of fear and doubt and anger and dissatisfaction and half-heartedness any more. I prayed with some very patient, wise people and I committed myself to some pretty profound changes. Some of the stuff I was trying to get rid of has been troubling me since childhood, so it went pretty deep. So that was then.

The following day, as you know (because you were watching) I woke up feeling dreadful. I was so, so depressed that I felt knocked sideways and that hopeless feeling persisted for the next three days. Tearful and defeated, all the negative thoughts that I'd been trying to banish were back only much worse. Why did I think that this would work for me?  I couldn't do anything right. I was just a failure. I couldn't pray because I couldn't find any words. I didn't want to read my daily notes or look at the Bible and I very strongly didn't want to listen to the worship music in the car, which I usually find really helpful. I felt claustrophobic and panicky and I actually found it hard to breathe once or twice. And I couldn't find anything that I was capable of doing about it.

I didn't do anything at all to help myself until last night I managed to read out loud some Bible verses that I found in a book to help with exactly what I was going through. In floods of tears, again, I lay in bed and cried out to you and you heard me. I managed to pray a bit. Only a bit, but you really do take my meagre little offerings and honour them with riches, don't you, my God?

This morning it felt like dawn. I just felt lighter. Not euphoric, or ecstatic, but the misery had lifted. I feel bruised, but not mortally wounded, as I did. I feel vulnerable and a bit fragile, but not defeated. I am not defeated after all. You answered my prayer.

Whatever battle was going on in my head might not yet be over, but I know that I am on the winning team, and the darkness is receding. My Saviour came for me. I know this sounds dramatic, but it was. It is.

I don't know what it was all about. A wise friend of mine said that such an experience is like the death throes of the old ways of thinking; the negativity and fear that I'd renounced wasn't taking it lying down; the enemy wasn't going to give up easily. A tug of war was taking place and I was the poor unfortunate hosting the competition. Is that it? I still have so much to learn in this area. I feel so uncomfortable talking about it at all.

I don't think that I'm out of the woods yet; I have some pretty difficult things coming up and I don't feel particularly robust emotionally. Soon I have another appointment with Katy's consultant where we'll decide on her new treatment programme and I don't really like either of the options we're so far presented with. I need to be strong because if I feel like this I think I might cry on the nice man who's only trying to help us. I am stronger than I was a few days ago. What an eternity has happened for me in the last few days.

I don't want to go through that again.

The thing is, I have had a glimpse of something. If anything positive can come out of the awful way I've been feeling since last week (other than the obvious), it's that I've had a chance to see how appalling it must be to wake up every morning feeling this way, with no end in sight. Once I had spoken to someone who had done this before me, I was reassured that if I hung on in there, there was an end to it. The light at the end of the tunnel. I needed to stick it out. But what if there is no light? What if there's only unrelieved misery as far as the eye can see?

I had a chance to taste the darkness of depression. After my children came, both times I think I probably had mild post natal depression; the sort of tearful, exhausted, despairing gloom that perhaps many new mums go through. It was horrible; I didn't enjoy it a bit, but it was nothing on the scale of this. This was bleak, and after a comparatively short while I had a glimmer of hope when I was told that it was temporary. What if someone has no such assurance?

Not knowing how far you have to travel by feeling your way before light illuminates the path again, if it ever will? Feeling blind and fumbling along. Merciful Lord Jesus, bring the people I know about who are depressed out of their dark tunnels. I understand a little bit better how they feel and it breaks my heart. No-one can see the world through someone else's eyes, or think their thoughts, or feel their emotions, but I had a try at something in the last few days that just gave me an idea of what it might be like.

You know, the sense of being cut off from you was terrible. I was casting about for help - my closest friends away on holiday, my usual props - my Bible, my daily readings, my music just didn't feel accessible to me. You were too far to see, let alone reach.  I was separated from my Father. Is that how you felt as you suffered on the cross, Lord Jesus? How much worse it must have been for you than for me. The light of my relationship with my heavenly Father is like a little candle stub at best; it burns brightly or dimly, but it's small and insignificant in comparison with the floodlit, dazzling day of your communion with your Father. And because of us, because of me, that light was extinguished for a time.

How terrible must that have been for you? I cannot imagine the sheer weight of it. All I know is that for me, it was awful. I cried, and I was afraid, and I was desperate. My God, what you did that first Easter is huge, isn't it? Bigger than my imagination.

So I'm back. And I have learned. Oh yes.

I belong to you.

Thankyou for rescuing me. I'm glad to see the light again. Do you remember that some months ago I said, 'Show me what you want from me. Make me the person you want me to be.' Of course you do. Nothing gets past you, does it?

I think I can definitely conclude that you have been working on me, aren't you? Even I can see that I am not the person I was six months ago. I said, 'Bring it on!' and you took me at my word. And, I think, so has the other guy.

So here I am, bruised and tear-stained, but not beaten, and I'll say it again:

I am your child and the devil cannot touch me.

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