I’ve written these words down. Then I delete them. And rewrite them. I think it’s time that these words stand as an anthem for myself, but for who else will read these words.
Last year, I walked through one of the lowest valleys that I have ever experienced in my life. The darkness seemed to come in from every side and I didn’t think I would ever find the light. I slowly found the light. It came in forms of calling my mom upwards of 15 times a day. It came in forms of pounding my fists against the bathroom floor, the voice of peace washing over me. Knowing that even though I could hardly see him, he was still there. Kneeling beside me and wiping my tears.
I don’t remember it being good one day, and bad the next. There seemed to be a slow descent into the darkness and then all of a sudden, it was bad and I didn’t know what to do.
I withdrew, and hid. I struggled to be an RA to the girls in my dorm, because I could hardly take care of myself. My marks dropped, and I felt like I had forgotten what it meant to be “Nat.” I felt fake. Emotionally empty. I was exhausted to the point where I was napping all of the time (and I never nap). I was putting on a mask to get through the day, through my classes. I didn’t know how to tell people that I was struggling. That I needed help. I felt lost and didn’t know which way to turn. I was in a couple of leadership positions, and I was worried about how people would view me if I opened up about how I felt, because I felt far from normal.
I was scared of the label that people would put on me. I was afraid to be diagnosed with depression, so I never went to the doctor. I was afraid, that if I would talk about what I was going through, that it would marr people’s view of me. I lived in a constant state of fear, and it took absolutely everything from me. Fear robbed me of everything, and I’m slowly beginning to find everything that Fear took.
I started to talk about it. Slowly. I started to sprinkle the breadcrumbs of hope as I walked through that season. The more I talked about it, the lighter the dark got. All of a sudden, it was a “hey, I’ve been there too” is what I was hearing from other people as I shared about this darkness that was enveloping me.
As I began to open these wounds that I was trying so hard to cover up, I began to see that I couldn’t deal with the wound on my own. I needed help. I needed people to come alongside me, and love me through that trial. As I began to realize this, I began to get random messages from people, telling me that they were praying for me. That Jesus had put me on their heart, so they reached out to tell me. These messages stood as beacons of light for me. Over and over. These messages just kept showing up in my inbox.
I’ve written about breadcrumbs before. The sprinkling of these metaphorical (sourdough breadcrumbs because that’s my favourite kind of bread) that mark where I’ve come from. They stand as a reminder of what was behind me, and when I look back, I can see how far I have come.
I’m still here. Those three words tell of the battle that I walked through.
I learned a lot about myself and about God through this low season, but I also learned how to pray. I felt like David, when I was flipping through the psalms. The lament, the asking of where God was. I learned how to pray when I didn’t know where else to turn. The prayer that I would whisper into the quiet of the night, in the early mornings when I would lie in bed and try to gather enough energy to get up.
“God, show up. I can’t keep doing this.”
He showed up. Everyday. Even when I didn’t see him in the moment. He was right beside me, sprinkling bread crumbs alongside me. I look back now, and can see him in those moments.
I have put off writing about this for a while now. I haven’t even looked back in my journals that I used during that time. I walked out the other side, and packed it all away into boxes. I taped up those boxes with hazard tape and tucked them back on the shelf. I didn’t have the emotional or even physical energy to try and get through those boxes. I had spent the better part of four months with a constant prayer on my lips, and I was ready to walk away from the pain that I had gone through.
I’ve began to take the boxes off the shelf and pull off the hazard tape, I know I need to make the time to sit with the journals that marked an incredibly painful part of my life. Writing this blog post was one step towards the processing and healing of that season.
Opening these boxes feels a bit like a trust fall between me and Jesus. If I lean back and allow myself to fall, I also have to trust that he will catch me. When I rip off that tape, he’s going to be there to catch me. Even though my humanness doubts that He will catch me in the 0.2 seconds between falling and being caught.
I have hesitated writing about this, because it was a really messy time in my life. I was hurting, and as the saying goes – hurting people hurt people. I cancelled plans without explanation and tried to push people out of my life so they wouldn’t see the rawness of my wounds. Instead of listening to my pleas to leave, these sweet friends came into my corner and rallied for me. They came into the valley, and took my hand. They told me that they were praying big prayers for me, and that they weren’t going anywhere.
Tears leak out of my eyes when somebody tells me that they’ve been praying for me. I’m humbled by the sheer love that I feel in that moment. That people are communicating with Heaven on behalf of me.
I’m sure I’ll come back to this topic again in the near future, it’s apart of my story and who I am. The sourdough breadcrumbs have been sprinkled alongside the two pairs of footprints that walked out of that valley together.
It’s a piece of who I am, that is shaping me into the person that writes this post now. Sitting at a table in the commons at my university, reflecting back on those months.
I carry the wounds and the scars of that valley. Of all the valleys that I walk through. They speak to the beautiful faithfulness of who Jesus is.
Here’s to life, valleys and mountains. Wounds and scars. Sourdough breadcrumbs. The need for corner celebrators and banging on heaven’s doors. Trust falls and the ripping off of hazard tape.
I’m still here.