I was thinking the other day about sorrow and joy, can they coexist?
This question bombarded me when I was in a state of intense sadness. I was in a place of feeling like a failure in everything that I did. I felt like a useless wife, a failure of a mom, a neglectful daughter, and an uninvolved friend. I seemed to be tired all the time, I had no energy to take care of me, never mind taking care of anyone else, and yet I had all these demands on me from external sources, all these things I needed to do, but had absolutely no energy or desire to do so. I just wanted to sit in a puddle and feel sorry for myself.
I have been sick for a while, with no diagnosis, been on so many medications, so many trips to emergency, and every time sent home or took pills with no improvement or answers. I was overwhelmed with hopelessness. I felt out of control, I still feel this way health-wise. Doctors can’t seem to tell me why I have these severe asthma type symptoms, when I don’t have asthma. I have had this for a few years already, but this year has been worse. I have to take prednisone often as well as three inhalers, just to be able to breathe easier. It doesn’t work completely either. I have been on so many antibiotics since the end of October 2016 (it is now end of May 2017) I have had a few bouts of pneumonia. I have been on an anti seizure medication since late 2012 (I had 2 seizures in November 2012 in my sleep, never any other time), doctors can’t tell me why I have had night-time seizures, just that I have had them and that I need to stay on Lamotrigine for the rest of my life, “because it doesn’t hurt me to stay on them”, just in case. I am experiencing pain and swelling in my right knee and lower back, so that along with asthma limits my ability to be active. I have been overweight for most of my adult life, and I have tried many things to lose that weight, but results have been minimal, and I give up. I am sorry for whining, there are so many who have it so much worse than me and I know it, in this head space all of this looks daunting.
I feel like I am stuck in a rut of physical, emotional and even spiritual pain. I feel like I am on the verge of tears at any moment. My house is a disaster, it reflects how I feel, and like I said before I have no energy or desire to clean and organize beyond the very basics. I do the least amount of work that I can get away with. Unfortunately this reflects in the rest of the family that live with me. I am one of those people who cleans like mad when someone comes over and freaks out if someone comes over unannounced. Usually I go hide, so that I don’t face the judgement I feel, whether real or imagined. I don’t do anything creative right now even though I know that feeds me, because I feel like I need the house to be in order before I can do the things I enjoy, so I sit on my phone or computer, looking at Facebook and reading about others achievements or their seemingly perfect lives. I quite often lie on Facebook, by only sharing the good things and hiding the crappy stuff. I don’t want judgement, or pity, I don’t want to embarrass my family and so I stay silent, I stuff the emotions inside of me, and only cry out in private. This is so hard to write. I feel like a failure and feel like I have done it to myself and deserve it. When I pull myself to the surface of this ocean of sorrow or self-pity, I look at my mess, feel overwhelmed and sink back into again. I am even having a hard time crying out to God, I feel unworthy of His attention, I feel like He looks at me, and shakes His head, agreeing with my feelings of failure. I do not sit at His feet often and then get even further stuck in this place of sorrow.
The other day, maybe a month ago, I was sitting on my front porch, crying. Not exactly sure why I felt so overwhelmed. I felt like I was wrong in so many ways, I have let myself be made into people’s emotional punching bags. I have allowed people to treat me disrespectfully most of my life, afraid of rejection, afraid of conflict. I have lived so long with this, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t, whether that was with the kids at school (kindergarten and up), friends, family, and others who just need a place to lash out at. I have allowed it, I have sucked it up, believing that is easier than the fight that standing up for myself would take. I have not allowed very many people into this intimate space of seeing how very messed up I feel, I am so scared of what people will think of me, I am afraid of the judgement, of someone agreeing with me that I am a failure, and so I stay silent. I stay hidden. God knows even more than I do what is going on in my head and my soul. He sees all the damage that I have done to the core of me, and to the relationships with those around me. He sees the mess that I am.
During this time on my front porch crying, I questioned God, when will I feel the joy that I have experienced before? Why could I not just get over these negative emotions, why could I not just forgive and move on, why could I not stick up for myself, and demand better from those around me, why could I not be positive and see the good things I had, the good in me and the good in others around me. I begged to be rescued from my rut of sorrow, and find my joy again. He whispered that I could, that it wasn’t far from me, that joy and sorrow are close relatives. Both are heightened emotions and are often on the heels of the other one. He whispered that I could feel joy even when I felt sorrow. He reminded me that He was the source of all joy, of my joy. Joy was right beside me and living within me, I just needed to be overwhelmed by His presence. At that moment I felt a glimpse of it, and then it shut down. I know now that it is there, I know who to turn to for it. I know that when I reach out for it, the floodgates will open, and I know that the joy will be overwhelming. God showed me that joy can be found even in my ruts, and my sadness. I can’t make this joy on my own, it is an impossible, unexplainable thing, it doesn’t make sense, and so right now while I am feeling raw, I have put a damper on it, the intensity scares me. I am slowly opening up the dam to this feeling. Within this joy is an all-encompassing love, I feel the intensity of it, even as I am only allowing a little in at a time. It is so intense it almost burns. I know I need to open these floodgates and allow this searing love to cauterize the leaking, oozing, life draining wounds that I have. I know I need God to sweep out the cobwebs of lethargy and voices of self loathing. I know that I won’t heal until I allow God to start my healing from the inside of me. He is willing, He even wants to do that for me. I am grateful and a little terrified of what He may need to pull out of me, of what He needs to help me face. Do I trust Him, I try to and yes is my answer. It is hard sometimes, and yet I have known His trustworthiness before. I think it is more about not trusting myself, or that God might not trust me. He doesn’t need to trust me, only He is trustworthy enough to be that for the both of us. I need to trust Him, I need to move where He moves, go where He wants me to go, and face with Him beside me that things that He needs me to face, even if it means encountering conflict or looking at the tough stuff that I have stuffed deep inside me from past pain. Even if He wants me to stand up for myself, He has never wanted me to be a doormat, He didn’t create me to be timid, He wants to give me courage and fearlessness, because nothing should make me scared when God is with me. He wants to do this with me so He can draw me closer, so that I can see His greatness, to feel His searing love and feel not pain, but joy in it, no matter what. He wants to do this so that my worship of Him becomes more than rote, because honestly that is how it has been lately. He wants my worship of Him to become an integral part of me, that it is not based on my emotions, but an overwhelming attitude of gratefulness.
So the answer to my question “Can joy and sorrow coexist?” I believe that God answered that with a resounding yes. I have experienced it before, I felt His peace in the most horrible time in my life, the death of my daughter Taylor. Within this horrifying, life altering experience, there was a calmness, a peace. Within that peace was the unexplainable joy of the Lord. That does not nessisarily mean laughing, although it can be, or silliness, or happiness. God Joy is different, it is a sense of gratefulness when things feel so wrong, a sense of unexplainable peace even during unbearable sorrow, it is the ability to trust even in a place of terrible trials and your whole life being turned upside down and inside out, and in the intimidating unknown. So yes, even I can say yes, these seemingly polar opposite emotions can coexist, the joy feels richer and more real within sorrow and uncertainty. I think it is because it feels like the impossible is happening. It is, because with God nothing is impossible, you can not feel the joy in the sorrow without Him, therein lies the impossibility. It is impossible to live within these two powerful emotions at the same time without God’s strength and glory residing within you. This can not happen within our own human strength, it is impossible, we will never be strong enough to achieve this impossible feat on our own, it is humanly impossible, and nobody can give it to you either, only God.
So I am on a journey, a journey of health and healing, in my emotion self, my physical self and my spiritual self. I can’t wait to see what God will do with me. Am I scared of it? Absolutely! Am I excited? Not sure?? Am I willing, yes, God help me with this willingness, increase my faith. I think that this is the point, I think I am on a faith journey. To find the faith that is lacking in me. I need fresh faith in Him, in His ability to heal all of me in the way that He sees fit. This life is not about me, but about Him, it has always been that way from the beginning of time, I just rarely choose to see it.
If you are willing, I would like to share some of what I will be going through with you. I need people to be witnesses of God’s goodness, and as an accountability to those who would choose to walk with me in this, those who would be encouragers, those who would remind me of who God is, and His greatness, and turn my head to see Him, when I look away. Because I am human, I need others to hold me accountable for my weaknesses and the falls that will happen because of humanity. This is my desire and the reason that I am willing to let you see underneath the surface of the facade that I have carefully crafted over years of hiding myself, the real me. I no longer want this handmade, horrifically beautiful, carefully crafted mask. As God slowly removes it and reveals who I really am, I hope I am worthy of His love and the work He will do in me. I praise God for His yes, for His “I am willing”, and His message of “I have created you and because of that you are you worth it”. In turn I would like to be for you a witness of God’s greatness in your life, I would like to help you to see Him when you lose heart, and I would feel honored to be allowed to encourage and cheer you on in your journey. I am excited to get to know you as you let me. God is good, all the time.
Feel free to comment, to let me into your story so that we can journey together toward real and lasting healing and wholeness. I think that God will bring me on a journey toward physical heath, mental health and especially spiritual health. The spiritual part of me is the part that gets to live forever with Him. I would love to be able to journey alongside others who are willing to let God bring them on a journey of complete health, complete wholeness.
I will not allow comments designed to intentionally hurt here, or be criticizing without being constructive as well, there is no healing or value in unconstructive criticism. Criticism said in love and a desire to be helpful, is welcomed, but comments that are hurtful just to be hurtful are unwelcome and will be removed. I want this to be a safe community for people who are on a journey of healing with their Creator, with their Abba Father and with His Son, the rescuer of their soul, and for those who desire to listen to the whispers of His Holy Spirit.