Sunday December 7, 2003. An abysmal time. A desperately lonely time. A time of feeling way out of control. A time when I could not fix what was inevitably broken. It was the night before I would leave on one final interstate work trip for a full week. I couldn’t stand to be apart from my three precious girls back then. I was bitterly confused, unable to contain my emotions, and regularly beset with panic attacks.
You know the time when your emotions boil over and you’re a weeping mess. That was the size and weight of this particular season; this very night as I observed it from my journal. I didn’t know if I could get through. And I actually didn’t know if I wanted to. I had such barren purpose. I had no vision for what good that could come, other than to hope for a return to what had been. And that has gone! And yet there was a God-dimension that was invisibly real; enough to keep me scantly hopeful. A hope that actually doesn’t feel like you think hope feels like.
The photograph above is of that time. The thing that strikes me most is my family was young and we were all so vulnerable. But I look at us now and I thank God for holding me together in the midst of what was frequently overwhelming. My girls were so inspiringly strong. There were times when they held me up!
I like to go back at the start of each year and thank God for that earlier version of myself, a person who could not give up, because:
- there was too much to lose.
- I was unable to let go.
- and, I really don’t know why (praise God).
This is what faithfulness does. We don’t need to be perfect. We will make mistakes. In being overwhelmed there will often be regrets. Worse may seem to get worse and worse, but overall you do get through, even though at the time you cannot see the point of it, or whether you can even endure it.
Times like this you look back to with fondness. Under the strain of testing you are found (later... much later) with the mettle that sustains. Under such strain there’s no strength of any worth to draw on other than God’s; that’s my experience.
If all you have is vulnerable, and if tenuousness is your plight right now, hold up, hold within, and hold on. Something good is coming from this in God’s far-off timing. Don’t give your joy to a substance or addiction or anesthetize yourself. Don’t throw hope into the ashes. Ply faith. Love as much as you’re able. And endure. Just endure.
And know… you’re loved… so loved!
One day, when you’ve gotten through your living hell, you’ll thank God for that earlier version of yourself who just held on.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.