Weeping May Endure for the Night
Hang in there....
I wish I knew that psalm on many nights when I cried myself to sleep. On many nights when I stared at the ceiling because I couldn't sleep any more and didn't have anything else to do. On many nights when I had something to do but couldn't move to do it.
On many nights I lay in fear that what I had to do was not going to be done because of that fear. I wondered about what "they'd" think or if "they' would laugh at me until I understood that "they" were faceless fears designed to keep me from my purpose.
When I didn't have purpose, I was lost. Hours, days, weeks, months passed with nothing to show for it. The nights as well as the days were dark. Some stretches of time, I can't remember. I just remember dark. I remember driving to work some days, and not remembering any of the ride, except for the moment I pulled into the parking lot. Routine, plus lack of purpose, rendered me blind. I was breathing, but I was dead. I was dark. I was sad. I was hurt. I was without purpose. Or so I thought.
When I look back, I can see how clearly God used my experiences to mold me. But I also realize in the days I was away from Him, the darkness had a name. Depression. I was never clinically diagnosed, but looking back, the symptoms were there: a constant state of sadness masked with a smile, plus fatigue, weight loss, long periods of sleeping or insomnia. The days melded together in a continuous haze of browns with black spots.
The relationship between being depressed and not having a purpose is one I'd never pondered. Until one of my girlfriends told me that she was diagnosed with depression.
It turns out, it was brought on by not having a job.
Aside from not having a steady income, not having a job wreaks havoc on the psyche. Especially in a world that screams "Hard work pays off!" and "Buy this now! Upgrade now!" Having a job, for many people is the height of maturity and (sometimes, misplaced) purpose.
Think about it. We go to school to earn a degree, so we can get a good job. We go back to school for another degree to have a career. We meet our peers at a social gathering and the first question that is asked after introductions, is "What do you do?"
Even if we are in the throes of discovering a passion and working toward building a dream, the lack of steady income or clientele is like the bruise on your knee that chafes against your jeans when you kneel, sit or stand. It doesn't hurt-hurt, but it hurts. If business does not build up soon enough, it's easy to feel like we have failed or that perhaps we were mistaken in walking the path we are taking. We begin to second-guess ourselves and second guess God. Then we feel sadness. Anxiety. Stress. More sadness. The light begins to dim. The darkness encroaches. The night has fallen. As have the tears.
Being trained to work for someone is easier than being retrained to work for your self. The paycheck does not come unless you put in the work. And even then. *sigh* It is hard. In addition to a lack of finances, when I come to the end of a major project, I feel useless.
When these days come. my friend has medication at her disposal. She has also found peace in exercise. Me, on the other hand, have taken a less physical approach. I have sought to temper those dark days by taking the opportunity to rest. I am almost single-minded when in project mode - crazy day and night hours that crash a wrecking ball into my sleep patterns. I find my peace in seeking God, going into His Word, reading, and hashing my thoughts out on "paper" aka blog posts. Hashing them out helps me to see me and the state of my heart more clearly.
In addition, the dark days are met with faith. In all honesty, I sometimes wish there were a medication for impatience because that's where I begin to feel the pressure - waiting on God. Not only am I manic during a project, but I am also always super curious as to what's going to happen next. I always imagine God looking over His glasses at me. "Will you please relax, chick? I've got this." (PS. Don't tell me God doesn't wear glasses because He sees all things. I know this. But in my visual He does. And they're from Walgreens or Cartier depending on the day.) Anyway, I know that God's got me, but when things get tight, I have to constantly remind myself that God gave me the directive to leave my old job. And that He has given me this gift to use...as I wait. And that in doing what He has directed, "He will make [me] the head and not the tail; above only and not beneath..." (Deuteronomy 28:13 NKJV) I'm cool with that.
I've since learned that your dark days have purpose. They are a good source of reflection - I can see who I am and how much I need God. They provide a reference point for when I am tempted to complain about a minor situation. And they sometimes help comfort others by at the very least, assuring them that there is hope on the other side, that their dark days are not abnormal, and that the joy will, indeed, return.
This post originally appeared here on May 28, 2015.