I’ve experienced many trying seasons, and I’ve managed to come out of all those seasons basically alive. I knew through them all that, in the end, my testing would produce wisdom and, at the least, experience. So each time, I waited until the end; I waited until I heard my Beloved speak some sort of profound revelation; I waited, and I complained, and I hated every second, and I hoped for justice on behalf of my suffering.
I have walked through darkness that I would wish no other person to ever have to endure or experience, even for a moment; and as I take my first step into light again—and finally breathe my first breath of freedom—each time I have assumed to have acquired more wisdom and revelation. Perhaps this seems to make every terrible day, every moment I stare death in the face, and every weak yes worth it.
Or so I thought.
I’m currently in a season that is truly unlike any other I’ve ever experienced—likely because I’m thousands of miles away from anyone I can really call friend. I never knew how lonely this time zone would be. I never anticipated how misunderstood I would feel amongst those who speak my own language in a place where I am the minority. I forgot to count up the cost of not one person wanting to hear me share my heart, my thoughts, my experiences, or the wisdom I thought I had acquired.
That’s how I would explain my life right now: lonely, misunderstood, overlooked, forgotten, discouraged, anxious.
Loneliness slaps me in the face every morning when I wake up and realize all my friends and family are going to sleep or already asleep as the call to prayer goes off outside my window. I’m greeted with loneliness when I take my anti-depressants each morning, knowing that I am surrounded by not one person who understands depression… and I remember the fear and confusion in the eyes of those I live with when I have briefly shared my struggle with depression. I hold loneliness in my hand as I wait for someone who knows my heart to just reply to my reaching for familiarity over text messages. I lie in bed with loneliness as I reminisce over my day and realize I have no words to describe to anyone what is happening inside the heart within me that tosses and turns all night long.
Being misunderstood right now has been like a recurring dream… one of those dreams where you are running from something, but you can’t really make out what it is you’re fearing and running from, and no matter how hard you try to tell those around you what is happening or what you are afraid of or to run away too, you can’t say anything. I keep opening my mouth to ask for help, but nothing comes out; and when words do form, all that comes out is nonsense. I’m asking for help from an unidentifiable monster, but I’m taken to get ice cream instead.
Anxiety has become a lens through which my entire existence is being distorted. It’s a film reel that plays on repeat inside my head. It’s a soundtrack on repeat telling me stories of all my fears. It’s the childhood bully telling me that I’ll never amount to anything, only to find that childhood bully was more than just an insecure, mean child, but actually my parents and all the grown-ups I aspired to be like. I put the glasses on and see that everything I believed in and hoped for is possibly just an idea. I try to stop the film, but it keeps playing memories of a life I used to live that I will never return to. I try to change the music, but the soundtrack keeps telling me of what my life of being forgotten, overlooked, replaced, abandoned, and neglected will forevermore be like. And I keep trying to avoid the bully, but he knows my insecurities already; and I’m found crying because he’s told me that this is going to be my life: single, lonely, and meaningless.
It’s only been a month, but time seems to drag on when weighed down by these uninvited guests… it’s felt like six months. It’s felt like everything I once loved and knew is fading away. It’s felt like I am simply diminishing into the world of Jane and John Does. Nothing feels like it could be real because it’s all so real that there’s no way life could really be this bad, right?
But I’m being reminded of something in this season: my Beloved is no stranger to suffering; He is not unaware of the heartache of loneliness; He is not lacking in understanding of the depths of grieving. In fact, He knows it all too well—and far better than I should ever attest to experiencing or about which I have attained revelation.
It’s ridiculous, actually: I ask to partake in His sufferings; I commit to suffering and dying with Him; I daily sign up to follow Him into the nations; yet when the light, momentary afflictions show up at my address-less house, I am surprised and bewildered.
Maybe this is because I assume He isn’t listening to me either during this season, when I pray things like: Show me what it means to partake in Your sufferings? How do I live a life in the same humility as You? Don’t let me grow cold to the cross; don’t let me see your death as only a story; bring me into the story.
And I’m being brought in. Right now.
My cross brings me to a crossroads: humility or self-preservation?
Will I choose to love those who have hurt me deeply? Or will I demand an apology or repayment for the depths they have wounded my heart?
Will I choose to keep submitting my emotions, thoughts, and preferences to the Father every day? Or will I consider this futile and live in my sinfulness, pride, depression, and anxiety?
Will I choose to live before an audience of One and for rewards that are unseen? Or will I decide to please man and be noticed now?
Will I choose to love and believe the best about everyone? Or will I allow my fear to convince me to follow in line with my insecurities?
Will I choose to allow the testing of my faith to refine me and produce endurance? Or will I give up at the first sign of difficulty?
Because here’s the thing… I’m fully aware of my heartache. I haven’t neglected to process and feel the pain caused by those around me and closest to me. I don’t struggle with a lack of stressors or triggers in this place. I’ve managed to find each and every one of the things I fear in both the place I am in and in my mind. There’s no shortage of tears. I know how bad it seems. But I also know how good He is.
I know that I should be in one of the worst pits of depression of my life.
I know that I should be struggling again through issues of sexual abuse.
I know that I should be giving up right now.
I know that I should be void of any positivity.
I know that I should be looking at alternative life options.
I know that I should be grasping at anything safe, comfortable, or familiar.
But I’m not.
In the midst of this time, He keeps showing up and giving me enough grace and strength for the day. He keeps telling me that behold, I am with you… even unto the ends of the earth. He keeps waking me up in the morning and encouraging my heart that my weak yes is enough. He goes to bed with me at night and grants me peace to sleep as I wrestle with fears and doubts. He keeps standing up for me against the bully, pausing the film, changing the record, and giving me new lenses. He has been my voice when I have no voice. He has stood in front of me as I have gone against those who seek to harm me. He has fought for me. He has been my biggest Advocate.
So this Easter weekend, I’m partaking in His sufferings with Him. I’m choosing to partake in the privilege that it is to be His friend in a place where He has very few friends. I’m choosing to rejoice in His resurrection because it’s a hope that one day, I too will be resurrected after a time of suffering. There’s no excuse anymore to not choose humility. There’s no allowance for self-preservation anymore. For if He, who in the same form of YHWH, did not consider equality with YHWH something to be used to His advantage, but rather, humbled Himself—becoming a servant, obedient even unto the point of death, then who am I to try to save my own image or have anything due to me?
YHWH Himself chose humility. That’s unthinkable.
Instead of justifying my complaints and hurts, may I instead repent for my pride and arrogance; for this servant is not greater than her master… and this master is kind, gentle, loving, and worthy of it all. There is no one like Him. He stands alone. He’s a really good Dad and the best friend I have ever had.