Last year, 2014 was easily the worst year of my entire life. Jesus named it the year to “RESTORE THE JOY” but I found very little joy in it. It started with the death of my uncle. It continued over the next months to include the devastating end of a love relationship, one that was supposed to end in marriage, my son was hurt by a teacher and regressed, I was abandoned by my church family, my job was on the line, my volunteer work was becoming dangerous and finally, in the summer, my children were leaving for 5 weeks. I was alone.
Our Lord tells us that “To everything there is a season.” Ecc 3:1. We don’t always like our emotional seasons, especially the sad ones. However, it is very important to realize that we were created, by Gods hand, as emotional beings. We are made to experience a myriad of emotions, as a reflection of His emotional Godliness. He blessed us with emotions because that allows us to make choices, learn and grow. Even the emotions we equate as negative like sadness, anger, loneliness, heartbreak and depression can be used to push us toward health and healing. Because we long for wholeness and completeness and a relief from the pain that we encounter during our lives. These emotions are not bad in and of themselves. They are a gift, they are what tells us that we are alive. Emotions keep us moving forward. They are what drives us to change. They are what leads us into the arms of Jesus.
As part of my journey to restored joy in my life, I had to walk through a very dark tunnel. I experienced some pretty extreme sadness. I became very depressed. In the middle of the worst, while my children were gone, I lay in bed for 3 days and I could not stop weeping. Finally, I mustered up enough energy to call my mom and all I could say to her in between the sobs was “help”. I was experiencing an emotional break down. I had fought, resisted and denied my sadness for so long. I had been strong for everybody but me. I had let myself down by looking after and care taking those I loved. My body took over. It insisted that I pay attention to my devastation and brokenness. I was heart-broken, no I was heart-shattered at every level and I could not see or imagine how I could possibly manage to come out whole on the other end of this never-ending sadness.
In my heart-broken, hopeless mess, I was aware that I had a choice. I could give up. I could continue to deny my pain. Or, I could grasp with the last vestiges of strength I had, onto the cross of Jesus. I prayed that He would show me how to heal. I asked earnestly that He would hold my heart together while creating a miracle by making me whole again. He is faithful and in His gentle way, He led me through my grief and the healing that I so badly needed. I had to choose to feel my sadness. I had to begin to recognize my devastation. I needed to accept my heart ache and face the long road to emotional recovery all the while knowing that Jesus was holding me. It was hard to learn to feel my sadness,instead of hiding it and I couldn’t deny it any longer.
It took time, but eventually my tears began to subside. My heart began to lighten just a little every day. I was able to slowly begin enjoying the smiles of my children again. I began to breathe. My heart still ached but I was choosing to function through the hurt and pain. I chose to forgive. I chose to find help. I chose healing. I chose life.
Today, I still deal with the pain of the losses I experienced last year. Although my heart is functioning again, I still ache over some of those losses. I have learned that healing and grieving takes time. Things get the better of me sometimes. I cling to Jesus as I try to process my emotions when hard things happen. I have moved into another year, 2015 and another season. This year Jesus gave me the theme “celebration”. I am still trying to understand “restoring the joy” after all the devastation of last year. However, I trust that He is bringing it all together. That He will make the way clear. I am looking after myself these days, protecting my heart and asking Jesus into the hurt places. I choose Joy and that is half the battle.
*Some resources I found helpful
-Mandisa, Just Cry and Broken alleluia
-Healing is a Choice by Steve Arterburn
– Healing is a Choice conference
-Counseling weekly with a good christian counselor