Have you ever felt God nudging you about something? Then the quiet whisper of your soul seamed to hit you like a gentle shove or a tug toward the next step? There are several life experiences I've heard the Holy Spirit whispering about and intend to share them on this blog in the days ahead; being at the end of your rope is what I want to share today.
As I read from "Jesus Calling" this morning, the message seemed to all but scream at me: JOY in the midst of adversity, God can and will use our obedience and thanksgiving to lead us forward. Thankfulness when circumstances are the worst can be one of the highest forms of praise. Wow. And ouch!
Those of you who know me have heard my story of struggle through years of depression. Decades of anxiety. A silent struggle in which I assumed what I faced was "normal". Only when it became so dire that I could not concentrate, every morning was a struggle to get out of bed and too many moments were thoughts of "you're no good" or "why do you even try?". If you have been in that boat---a desperately small dingy with only one seat---you know. You already understand. If you've been in a yacht with a large crowd having a party, be thankful you have not traveled that lonely sea.
Through medication, prayer and counseling, God has brought me out of that desperate, dark prison. I cannot begin to thank Him enough for bringing me out of that miry pit. And each day I remember and am thankful because I know that the same pit is not far if I misstep. Lord, I reach out to You!
As I read Psalm 107, I realized this morning that I chose a prison of my own in the midst of adversity for many years. Being the wife of a handicapped person is one of the highest callings and biggest blessings I believe that God ever intended for me. I can say that now....but for many years, I chose the "iron shackles" the Psalmist referred to of my prison. Rather than celebrating the gifts God gave my husband---his preaching and counseling, his unconditional love, his amazing abilities to love and care for me and fiercely protect our two miracle children---I allowed anger to creep in. Discontent that bogged me down and sucked me into a different pit. Things he had absolutely no control over because of being born with a birth injury, I allowed to cause resentment. The anger of feeling trapped as a caregiver....the frustration of simple things like being both the cook and caring for the yard----miniscule duties other married couples shared with no thought---were like pouring gasoline on the smoldering embers of my resentment.
The turning point was so small that I didn't realize it at the time. At a Valentine's banquet where we attended and enjoyed listening to the dance band, seated together, another kind gentleman from my church walked over to me and asked if I would dance---he had already kindly danced with many widows. He did not wait for an answer but whisked me away to the dance floor. I realized then that while I had always wanted to dance with my husband, I had no clue where to start and had never really danced. Ever. Frank didn't care how many time I stepped on his toes or went the opposite direction. He was kind enough just to offer the opportunity, the happiness for a few moments that I had wanted for decades. How can that be a turning point?
It was on that dance floor that I realized dancing, or lack of it, were not the issue at all. The challenge in our marriage, and actually in my life, was my choice of attitude. Our life together is a dance in which Don and I choose to make the best of things. Sometimes we go in different directions. Sometimes we step on each other's toes. But we keep dancing. And, as Psalm 107 aptly says, we choose to "give thanks to the Lord for he is good and His love is unfailing. Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord." Today I am pondering and giving thanks for the dance of life!