“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage;.”
Psalm 27:13-14 NASB
I sat down to finish writing something entirely different, but my fingers wouldn’t type.
So, I walked away.
I find myself in a familiar place today; Afraid.
Too anxious to sit. Too scrambled to articulate sentences and think up pretty words.
I’m not myself, or rather, a previous form of myself.
I don’t like her very much, and I struggle to give her grace when she shows up.
I’m battling a cold, and tiredness seems to engulf me today.
My youngest is home sick; he woke up at three a.m. with a high fever and cough. After giving him medicine and a cool towel, we sat together and watched some of the Olympics. My little guy drifted off sometime after four, and I sat alone in the dark thinking.
I know better than to go deep when the night is heavy around me.
Whispers from the past pull me down.
Lying in bed next to my sweet, sleeping cherub, I wandered to a place years ago amid postpartum depression when my older son was sick. I drifted back to a time when life seemed unbearable because I had severe anxiety and obsessive, intrusive thoughts.
I was physically present but not so much emotionally and mentally, which left my memories blurred.
My boys are no longer little. Two of them are teenagers now, and my tiniest—as my husband and I call him—turns nine next month. Didn’t I just bring him home from the hospital?
The nagging voice in my mind whispers – Time is short... I shift uncomfortably in my bed because I am aware that I can never get those days back.
My breath catches as tears fall while I grieve the past.
The would of’s, should of’s, and what if’s are there waiting—so are the fears that once swallowed me whole. None of them truly leave, and if I rummage long enough, my emotions match my thoughts.
I am left feeling helpless and anxious.
Today I am Tired
Memories have that effect on me.
I struggle when ghosts from my past trigger emotional reactions, especially in weak moments.
Today, my body fights off sickness while my mind fights to stay present. As a result, when I’m tired, I am more prone to anxiety, and then depression always follows closely, seeking an opportunity to descend.
I’ve been waiting for a day like today. I knew it would come, and I’d have to write about it.
We hear all the time how hard it is to be transparent.
Well, it really is; Hard.
Then the lies:
Who do you think you are to write about overcoming anxiety and depression? You’re still here.
You have nothing to offer.
You’ll never get over this.
The ripple of a stone thrown years ago in the lake of my life still reaches me, even today, on an average snow-covered February morning.
If only life were a sitcom, where we could laugh while all misfortune is neatly summed up in 30 minutes.
But it’s not.
Life is complicated, tangled, and imperfect.
I’d love to tell you I am wrapped up in the prettiest paper and neatly tied with a bow. But this would be a lie because I am a work in progress. Bad days happen when you deal with anxiety and depression. And often, for me, it’s the memories that set one in motion.
Making some soup for my boy, I spotted the most beautiful little bird amidst the snow outside my back window. He didn’t mind the frozen ground, pecking and digging until he found a worm. Then, satisfied with his loot, he flew off to the nearest tree and sang a song until another sweet melody responded.
Observing my feathered friend on this crisp winter morning reminded me again that God is faithful.
He was then; He is now.
“I would have despaired unless I had believed…”
I love the King James Version of this scripture – I would have lost heart unless I had believed…”
Oh, how I lose heart when I forget to believe! It is so tempting to look back and try to manipulate the events of our lives, although the only thing altered is us. We are left defeated, sad, and helpless by lingering too long in the unchangeable.
“I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
He reminds me of His faithful goodness IN the land of the living.
When I dig through the icy memories at my feet, I find Him there. The goodness of the Lord, even in the cold, even in the muck. When I do, I rise above the cold to sing a song of rejoicing right where I am.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage;.”
I texted my husband to ask for prayer, and my sweet guy told me to look at the cross. “You don’t have to try harder; He did it all. Just look up in faith to Him.”
So, today I wait.
I wait for this to pass.
I fight to stay in the moment and remember that sometimes fighting doesn’t mean pulling out weapons and battling until you’re bloody. Occasionally it looks a lot like waiting. Allowing your heart to take courage by standing firm in the truth you already know. It takes a little time for our hearts to thaw and take courage.
Then my guy told me something else. “Don’t try… Just write,” he said.
So, I write.
My little boy is snuggled in, watching movies next to me. His fever-warmed skin pressed against mine. I nuzzle my face into his sweaty head of hair as his blue eyes gaze up at Wreck-It-Ralph. All while remembering to breathe out a quiet thankfulness for this moment, time alone with my Tiny while my older two are at school.
Days like today take place—they just do.
Triggers come, and sad, anxious days will occur. But just as the delicate bird sings a song amongst the wintry frost, I choose to believe in the goodness of the Lord right now.
Reminders of past victories and present grace.
Won’t you join me today in thanking Him for the hard days as well as the good? They will come, and that’s okay.
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble… God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” Psalm 46: 1-2 &5 NASB
As always, friend, thank you for stopping by,
Julie Hamilton says
I love that you shared this beautiful journey and the struggle with anxiety. I also struggled with severe anxiety. Telling your story is helping other people get free, so never stop telling it! Well done1
Susan McIlmoil says
Thank you, Julie, I appreciate your kind words, especially coming from someone who knows the battle personally.
Just beautiful! Remind us that God is always by our our side no matter what!
Susan McIlmoil says
Thank you, Andreea!
What a beautiful verse to help us remember God is there through all our trials and will be there always. Blessings to you! I’m your neighbor at #CoffeeforYourHeart.
A wonderful reminder of who God is. We only need faith (mustard seed size) to tap into all of His powers. Thank you for being so transparent in your ongoing struggles.
Susan McIlmoil says
Amen to that, Brittany, faith as a mustard seed! Sometimes that’s definitely all I have- which makes me so thankful that’s enough.
Melanie Redd says
I’m so thankful that we don’t have to lose heart – because of God’s faithfulness!
Appreciate you and your ministry~
JD Iana says
“I rise above the cold to sing a song of rejoicing…” How beautiful is that! My own doubts mirror some of yours and I am grateful for the reminder today to wait in Faith while the truth settles in my soul again.