13 December 2010

Peace, Peace

Can I just say how much I appreciate Sara Groves and her ability to continually put forth album after album of music that is so incredibly good for my soul? This year, after having "It's True" on my everyday playlist for more than a year, Christopher and I went ahead and purchased the rest of her Christmas Album, "O Holy Night." All through December, I listened over and over to amazing words of songs that have been around for years - and felt as though I heard them for the first time, as Groves shaped the music around them in a different way.

One of my favorites is a song called "Peace, Peace", which includes a line from "O Little Town of Bethlehem" - "All your hopes and fears are met in Him tonight." What a beautiful line! And one that I have listened to countless times without actually understanding the profound nature of those words!

Peace, peace - it's hard to find;
Trouble comes like a wrecking ball to your peace of mind,
and all that worry you can't leave behind -
All your hopes and fears are met in Him tonight.

I usually love Christmas (and wrapping presents, which I could gush about for a while), but there was something so incredible about this Christmas. Early on, I began praying that my heart would be softened - that I would experience anew the incredible joy of our Savior's advent.

The end of the fall was particularly rough for me in places, but so sweet in others. In the wake of my grandmother's death, I finally found a perspective of what it means to hold to Christ all of our days - to walk with Him, to trust Him until the very end.

And I think that's when it hit me that God loves me. It's not this thing where He kind of tolerates me and decided that, since He was already saving a few others, I was available to throw into the bunch. Had that been the case, there would have been no need for things to have happened as they did.

To think that, not only did God humble Himself in becoming a baby boy in all of our human limitations, but He did so with the intent of taking on our filth so that we could be with Him each day of our lives on this earth - as well as the next day after we leave it.

I think I cried every day of the first two weeks of my winter break. Sometimes tears of sadness when I was overwhelmed by the still-new grief of my parents over their mothers' deaths, but mostly tears of gratitude and joy - something I haven't experienced in so much time I'm ashamed to admit to my lack of feeling.

God was faithful in answering my prayers that my heart be tender and softened for the season - all of my hopes and fears were met in Him.

Peace, peace - it's hard to find;
Doubt comes like a tiny voice that's so unkind,
and all your fears they conspire to unwind you.
All your hopes and fears are met in Him.

And, yet, it is difficult to return home. My hopes and fears here seem so very different than what they were when we were with our parents or at Faithwalkers and surrounded by our church family. I'm struggling to breathe the free air that I so easily experienced elsewhere. In my battle with apathy, I feel the ever-consuming urge to control what I doubt God can do. I've become laden with anxiety, my sleep has become erratic at best, and yet, still - All of my hopes and fears are met in Him tonight.

How splendid that my doubts and apathy have no effect on the goodness and glory of God - that even when I fail, He is still meeting all of my hopes and fears! My God is still in control over this mess that I continually make for myself. My God still rules the very air I breathe.

With that knowledge alone, I ought to (and can) have peace.

Peace, peace.

[[lyrics from "Peace, Peace" by Sara Groves, Ben Gowell and Aaron Fabbrini]]

01 December 2010

A different kind of happy

Go on and ask me anything - What do you need to know?
I'm not holding on to anything I'm not willing to let go of to be free.

I feel as though I'm emerging to new life in a very profound way. About a month ago, I was approached to share my testimony with the group of teenage girls and their moms, who I hang out with a few times a week. Since that time, I've been processing through what my story looks like, which is something that I haven't taken the time to do in a few years - at least not in any great depth.

Perhaps the greatest surprise has been a fixation on my battle with depression over the past 13 years. As some are aware, I have been in the midst of a major depressive episode since last August. It has been my third major battle with the disease. In my reflection, I've noticed patterns and triggers, and I've discovered a general sense of finally being able to understand what has happened off and on for more than a decade.

I've had several amazing conversations with my husband, who has been gracious and seeking to understand - perhaps all the more, as I have been more open than I have been in the past (as I begin to understand it more myself). I had the realization while eating lunch with one of my best friends today that I had never been candid about this particular area of my past with her - not necessarily because it wasn't important, but because I didn't feel it was necessary as it encompasses so much of my everyday life that I often can't separate it out.

And, in the midst of all of the processing I've been doing, I've realized that depression isn't highly addressed in Christian circles.

In looking back, I realize that I felt strange being a kid from a believing household and being constantly both down and lacking in joy. It never seemed right to talk about it. Until I was well into college, I didn't know that my mom had struggled with depression herself.

It just isn't talked about, which is why I've felt that it's been laid on my heart to focus on when I share Friday night. The society that we live in steals our joy - and we must fight for it.

I've got to ask you something - But please don't be afraid.
There's a promise here that's heavier
than your answer might weigh: It's me.

There's a beauty in resting in Christ's assurance of forgiveness and love, even when dealing with the heavy things. As believers, we should never be afraid of condemnation.

And, yet, as believers, we can so easily condemn others for what they share.

The result is that we each hide ourselves away and keep ourselves from true fellowship. The isolation we feel simply compounds until we feel entirely alone and without hope.

As humans, we fail every day. But we must be faithful to those of the household of God (and of those who are not!) - to love and forgive, because that is what has been offered to us.

It's a sweet, sweet thing -
Standing here with you and nothing to hide:
Light shining down to our very insides, sharing our secrets,
bearing our souls, helping each other come clean.

Secrets and cyphers - There's no good way to hide.
There's redemption in confession and freedom in the light.
I'm not afraid.

How sweet it is to belong to the household of faith. How beautiful to be able to stand before my husband and know that there is nothing between us that is hidden, no matter how much it may hurt to have it out in the open. There's a wonderful freedom in having those things that reside in darkness being brought into the light of the grace and forgiveness and love of the Gospel of Christ.

I feel as though I might be discovering that freedom for the first time - hence, this odd little emergence I've been experiencing.

There's a "different kind of happy" that I'm learning to embrace. I don't have to dwell on what has come before, nor on what I've lost.

God has been faithful to me and, for the first time, I think I'm realizing that the God I am coming to know here will always be the God that has claimed my heart and life - nothing can change that or take that away from me.

When death comes, I want to be like my grandmother, who crossed that threshold and was not surprised at Who she found on the other side.

He is always mine. That means now and that means then.

And that means before the beginning of the world, I was His.

What a glorious thing to celebrate at this time of year - The promise of continuation when life on this round, ruddy rock has expired. Praise God!

[[words from "Different Kinds of Happy" by Sara Groves]]