Another Year

It has been nearly a full year since I wrote the first post for my blog in February 2013. It took me until May to have the courage to post publicly, and afterwards I was filled with elation and accomplishment, a sweeping euphoria, believing a fresh season of life had finally begun.

The prompting to write that day in May had come from learning of church planting colleagues who were in danger of having to close their fledgling church. Upon reading their prayer request, tears and grief overtook me as I relived the pain of our own church plant closing just over four months prior. I was blindsided by the emotions and the ensuing “ugly cry” and I soberly realized that the loss was still raw, the questions still unanswered, and it had been lurking just under the surface waiting for something to tear open my thin fragile skin.

Gentle Spirit promptings told me that writing about it was the only way forward, to put words to the grief, and process it out in the open. So I began the long overdue blog that very day, first getting the introductory posts out there, before getting into the weightier stuff. I prayed and planned out the theme of my blog (at least for that foreseeable future) to delve into the topics of grief and the holy mix of grace and growth that we experience in the midst of our grieving. That was my plan…

All that weekend after launching my blog I so desperately wanted to keep writing. I had opened the proverbial floodgates, and words and ideas and emotions were pouring forth, dammed up stories aching to be told. But though they swirled and crashed against my insides, they remained trapped with no outlet because we were on the go all weekend. I felt agitated, anxious, knowing I should be present for my relationships and activities, but instead stuck in my head and storming, irritated that I couldn’t hole up alone with my thoughts and a keyboard. It was like I’d been unleashed, and felt the freedom, and then immediately had to reign in the wild horse of my mind whose only desire was to run with the ideas, not give pony rides in a monotonous circle. My soaring spirit plummeted with each day’s restless anxiety.

storm cloudsThat next week I began to experience a sudden deep depression, worse than it had been for a long while, dropped down into the dark space where chronic depression sufferers such as myself say, “Wow, things had gotten good enough that I had almost, almost, forgotten how hellish this place actually is…and now that I remember, I wish I could go to sleep and stay asleep until it’s over.” It was staggering. I was crushed. I felt ashamed at the little control I had, how I could be cut down so quickly. After a few weeks I confided in a few family members and friends about the terrible place I found myself in. “I don’t know what happened,” was my empty explanation. They listened, they loved, they prayed. And slowly over the next several weeks I clawed my way out of the hole bit by bit, until I found a lighter space where chronic depression sufferers such as myself say, “Wow, things had gotten so bad that I had almost, almost, forgotten how good life actually is…and now that I remember, I wish I could stay wide-eyed to the wonder and never close my eyes to it again.”

As many times as I tried to write about various topics and stories from the previous 2 years’ journey, with sentences and paragraphs and new documents, I just couldn’t bring myself to finish any of them. I think I was afraid that “going there” in my writing would possibly “send me there” in my spirit, and it was too risky. I did put up a few posts about grieving my dad, some that were written previously during his cancer journey, and one new one written on my parents’ “would have been” 40th anniversary last June. But since then, no new public posts for 7 silent months.

Until today. Because once again today I was faced with the realization that my grief, my pain, my feelings of loss, are still so close to the surface. All it took was a compassionate person who really knows me to ask some simple caring questions and the tears welled up, my throat closed, and I had to admit that it’s all still there, in need of continued healing and processing.

I wish that a year later I could move on and change the focus of my blog. But I didn’t spend the past year writing about grief, I just continued to live with it. A friend who invited me to start blogging on a collective blogging site last summer graciously assured me the words will come when it’s time – “You’ll tell the stories when you’re ready.” And so I will once again try to step obediently into those Spirit promptings, “Start writing.”

Thanks for joining me on the continued journey of grieving and growing with grace.

Andrea

13 thoughts on “Another Year

  1. Bernita Tuinenga

    Praying for you Andrea and looking forward to reading about your journey. It takes a lot of courage to go into those dark places of our soul and put words to those feelings. I pray you experience much healing through this process. So thankful I’ve come to know you.

    1. Andrea Post author

      Thank you Bernita, I am blessed by your support with your words of encouragement and your prayers. Your presence has been a reminder from God again that God will provide the people I need in every place and season. Thanks for being a safe person of love and grace.

  2. Bernadine Johnson

    My dear, sweet, Andrea,
    When I read “your heart”, the words that jumped out at me were “seven silent months”. I immediately thought of the dark place the Israelites were in for 400 silent months waiting, waiting, waiting for redemption. God brought it. I don’t know the exact when or how He will do that for you. Instant healing? A slow, marinating process? Through one person? Through many? That in itself will be a story to tell and one that will need to be told. I think of Joni Erickson Tada who just begged God for physical healing. She received her healing (and still is) in many ways, but it wasn’t the one she longed for. Though my heart goes out to her, I wonder if she would have EVER had such a part in changing the lives of people and the conditions for the handicapped if she had been able to have her spinal cord in perfect condition again. I look at her as one of the “hard chosen”…..chosen for such an important, but very hard job in this world. I would love to see you healed of all that entangles you. Someday, that will definitely be so! ( No more debilitating migraines in Heaven!) Whatever pilgrimage God takes you through, like Joni, you are one of the “chosen” for a special job that has the possibility of bringing hope and healing to so many people through this (at times crushing) journey. If you cannot find any other reason, hang on to that and continue to use what has come into your life to spread empathy to others. Sometimes another person in the same situation needs only to know they are not the only one who has experienced this. God has your name on His hand. He hasn’t forgotten one thing about what is going on in your life. Definitely – YES. Keep writing so you don’t swirl in the grief and depression alone. The enemy NEVER wants the truth out there. Silence is his weapon so he can control the situation. Hold onto John 8:32. Love, B

    1. Andrea Post author

      Bernadine, the Father’s love speaks to me through you again, and as always your words bring healing to my heart. Thank you for always praying and speaking the truths I need to hear. You are an incredible vessel of the Spirit, and I am ever grateful for you.

    1. Andrea Post author

      Thanks for reading Chris. It’s definitely a unique bond forged by shared experiences both exhilarating in the faith adventure and devastating in the closed doors. My heart joins in your brokenness as I know yours did/does for us. Grace and peace to your family in the process and way forward.

  3. Angie Mabry-Nauta

    Love you so much, my sister. I can hear your voice in my head as I read your beautiful words. I so empathize and walk with you through that darkness. Yes, the writing will come, and through it God will bring you creativity and life.

    1. Andrea Post author

      Thank you dear sister Angie. You have walked the road bravely, modeling the writing life in the midst of pain, using it as a tool for healing and freedom. I am grateful for your courage and vulnerability. And I’m continually blessed by your friendship and love and solidarity.

  4. Amy

    I miss talking to you. Reading this made me remember that I’m not alone in these thoughts; that someone else might understand. Keep writing. Keep healing. I look forward to reading more.

    1. Andrea Post author

      Miss you too Amy! Thanks for reading and leaving me a note. I just had an opportunity today to speak about our journey over the past 3 years, the joys and the heartaches, and seeing God at work and continuing to trust in the highs and lows.
      I’ve needed that reminder, too, that there are people to listen and care, and that God loves me and hasn’t abandoned me. I know it in my mind, but sometimes my heart needs to “know” that truth too. We are never alone! Love to you and the family.

  5. Elizabeth Schroeder

    :’)
    I too know of the mountain top highs and the grand canyon lows of depression. Sometimes it feels as though there is no middle ground, no “normalcy” of every day life that some people speak of. I look forward to sharing in your growth as I read your words and moving forward with you.

    1. Andrea Post author

      Thanks Elizabeth, I’ve been glad to see your recent fb posts about fighting to overcome depression with gratitude, etc. It’s something we don’t have to face alone, and gets a little easier when we’re open and encouraging each other rather than remaining in silent isolation. Thanks for reading and being on the journey!

  6. Pingback: Day 1 – Messy Me Makeover (Introduction) – AndreaDeWard.com – Go. Show. Love.

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