Written in March of 2022
Feelings whirl within me, so forceful I might implode, broken and left for dead. Questions circle my mind like vultures, What now? How do I move forward? How do I live with this pain? How do I make sense of this and use my story? I slowly feel the familiar twinge of anxiety spreading across my neck and shoulder; a well-worn groove of radiating pain. Another thought gains my attention, creating more angst. I am worried that our house won’t look as beautiful as I desire. I crave the exterior of my life to be presentable, to cover up my insides that feel barren, hurt, angry, and shame-filled. I yearn to tear back the layers of perfection, like my son tears open a glittering present on Christmas morning, but I am terrified of the aftershock of my vulnerability.
I find myself sitting in the sun again. I savor its light and warmth, before it dips below the horizon. This emotional whirlwind feels like it might be too much; the brokenness, loss of trust, and pain I carry feels like it could snuff out the light within me. I desperately want to process the emotions and break forth from this pit, restored; however, I also need to accept that pain may be a long-standing resident in my soul. However, God is here in the cratering abyss of depression and anxiety. He is my shepherd and He will lead and comfort me in the dark valley. The words of Psalm 23 pour into the deep pit, easing the anxiety within me. In Psalm 23, David writes,
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”—Psalm 23:4, New Living Translation
You are with me in this plunging hole, God. And friend, He is with you in whatever you are facing today.
My dark valley courses with opaque rivers of difficult memories filled with shame and broken relationships. I must acknowledge my past, rather than plunging the experiences deeper into the river, hoping they will drown, forever gone. I am utterly exhausted from the hours of endless striving to gain acceptance that pile upon my shoulders. In this bleak valley, I believe You comfort me, God, but I also believe to receive Your consolation, I have to share my heart with You—every fear, anxiety, and shame-filled thought. I need to shed the layers of perfection, like I unzip and discard a jacket on a warm spring day, being vulnerable with You, Lord. Psalm 23 speaks this truth, trickling in from the top of the hole, like raindrops quenching the drought of my soul. You comfort me in the desolate valley. You are close by me, helping me pull these painful memories from the rushing water. You protect me as I gaze at the gut-wrenching recollection puddled in my hand, reminding me that I do not have to be afraid. I am immersed in the reflection of this recollection, being nearly drowned by the shame of this remembrance. You remind me that You loved me then and You love me now. Thank You for shepherding me, God.
Oh, friend, I pray that you will allow God to shepherd you today, no matter the shadowed valley you plod through or the memories that flow like a river tightly intertwined in this lowland. I pray You will allow Him to comfort and protect You as you process through pain and hurt. I pray you will know you are loved by the great Shepherd who shields you on your journey.