One of the earliest memories I have is when I was three years old and I got locked in a bedroom. On purpose. By my parents.
Before you go contacting child services, just remember I am now 32 and I turned out…okay.
So here is a condensed version of the story:
-At our cottage we have one bedroom and at the time there were two beds in that room – one for me and one for my parents.
-This particular night I wanted to sleep in their bed and they said no.
-I didn’t listen and instead would get out of my bed and go to theirs.
-They would pick me up and put me back in my bed.
-This process went on for a few rounds, until finally my dad said, “If you get up one more time…”
I actually don’t remember what came after that. But you guessed it, that “one more time” happened. So my dad proceeded to unscrew the door knob of the door to the room and switch it around so that the lock was now on the outside of the room. They put me back in bed and locked the door and went downstairs while I “cried it out.”
All of those details that I just described above, I actually do not remember. I know the details because of the countless times this story has been told. However, what I do remember is what happened next.
I began to cry.
No, not cry, sob.
I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and did so very loudly. I remember wanting my parents to hear my agony. In the midst of sobs, I would scream a bit. At one point I literally remember my throat being on fire from the scream sob and thinking to myself “I am not going to stop, my throat hurts, but I am not going to stop.” I kept scream sobbing over and over again.
Eventually I found my dad’s video camera and pulled out all of the film, but that is beside the point.
That’s all I remember. I don’t quite remember calming down or falling asleep and I certainly do not remember what was talked about the next morning.
But I will never forget the vivid feeling of my throat being on fire and my stubborn self not wanting to stop screaming.
And while you may shake your head while reading this, many of you will understand I was three and not much judgement will take place on your part. Unless you judge my parents for their style of parenting 😉
However, while three year old me seems justified to scream sob, 31 year old me scream sobbing is just down right embarassing. But that is what happened – four months ago to be exact.
One day in March, without going into the details (surprised, huh?!), three little events went wrong in my day. The events are not important and very trivial, but nonetheless I was affected by them.
But it wasn’t the three events that were really my problem. My core problem was the sadness that lingered in my soul. A sadness that had been stuck to me for an entire year. A sadness that weighed heavy on my chest and could probably be seen in my eyes. A sadness that I had been trying to combat for 12 full months.
I did everything I thought I should be doing.
-I prayed more,
– studied God’s word,
-read other books that pointed me to God’s truth,
-talked about it with friends and family and tried to take in their encouragement,
-cried myself to sleep,
-thought about God’s great plans for my life…and the list goes on.
However, nothing I tried seemed to work. And at this point, I was just exhausted. I am not saying what I did was pointless and worthless. Many times I would receive bits of comfort here and there and it is always a good thing to be reminded of the Lord’s promises and truths. But nevertheless, the dark feeling of sadness within seemed to remain.
I even hesitated writing these blog posts because when I did, I felt like they were laced with sadness and who wants to keep reading about that? Plus, I was a bit embarassed that I couldn’t “just shake it.”
So on that March afternoon, while I was driving home after three very small things went wrong in my day, I began to cry.
Well sob actually.
And the more I sobbed, the more I felt anger raging inside of me. So I started to scream as the tears flowed down my cheeks.
I asked the Lord in a scream, “How much longer am I going to have to feel this way?! I really don’t know what else I can do!” I screamed until my throat hurt.
Then I calmed myself down by taking deep breaths of air and blowing out. I drove home the rest of the way in silence with damp cheeks and a sore throat. I didn’t pray, I didn’t cry, I was just silent.
Much like my 3-year-old self wanting my parents to know that I was not a happy camper, my almost 32-year-old self, wanted God to know that I was exhausted.
He already knew. I didn’t need to scratch my throat to let Him know. Lesson learned.
But what I was really doing was letting the Lord know I had absolute no control over my healing process and I was frustrated. I didn’t know what else to do, I didn’t know how else to be.
After the rest of my silent drive home, I came inside my house and just began to pray.
“God, what I really want…what I really need…is just to know that I am loved by you, like 100% loved without a shadow of a doubt.”
I don’t think I realized it at the time, but apart of me felt like I was doing something wrong or I wasn’t doing something enough. I felt like maybe I wasn’t seeking God’s face enough or loving Him enough because if I was, then I wouldn’t still have this sadness, right??
But I was exhuasted of trying to DO something for my healing to come. At this point, all that was left to DO was to fall in the Father’s hands and feel His love for ME. So I asked Him to help me feel that.
We shouldn’t really need reminders, right? We should already know God’s great love for us just by preaching the gospel to ourselves on a daily basis.
But we still do. God knows this about us. And it’s okay. So He reminds us.
The night of my “31-year-old car tantum,” my parents had invited some of my friends over to their house to have a small birthday celebration. It was four days before my 32nd birthday and for the most part, it ended up being a very uplifting time for me. My friends and parents spoke encouraging words into me and I knew that I was feeling God’s love through them.
But then what happened the next day was something I didn’t quite expect.
It was the evening of March 26th and I was driving home from somewhere. It was already dark outside and as I pulled into my driveway, I saw something floating by my house in the bushes of my yard.
I pulled into the garage and got out of my car to go look. The closer I got, the more I realized it was a helium balloon. For a split second, I thought maybe it was a Happy Birthday balloon from one of my friends as an early birthday present. But when I approached it and picked up the string and brought the balloon close down to my face, I saw that it was much bigger than a birthday present from one of my friends.
The balloon had one word written across it.
And even now, four months after receiving this balloon, I am crying typing this story out.
Because in reading that one word on the balloon, I knew God was telling me that I was His Princess and I was going to be OK. I was going to be OK. But not only that, I was so deeply loved by Him.
People can tell me that the ballon just happened to have blown in my yard from a neighboring house. People can tell me that the balloon was actually meant for someone else. People can tell me whatever they want to tell me. But I believe 100% that the Lord placed that balloon in my yard on that very night because I asked Him to show me how much He loves me. I needed to be reminded that I was His Princess.
God didn’t need to give me this reminder nor did He owe it to me. Instead, being the loving and gracious Father that He is, He chose to answer my plea and remind me of His love through this balloon.
The day of my car tantum I had started writing down every single blessing and gift that each day had to offer to focus on those instead of the small events that didn’t go my way. So looking back at that journal, two days after receiving the balloon, I wrote this as one of my day’s gifts “the joy I felt today for the first time in awhile.”
I am claiming that day as my day of healing. Even though the healing process is much longer than one day. In a way I had forgotten what joy even felt like. I thought I was stuck with sadness for the rest of my life. I know that seems a bit dramatic, but when you are there, you don’t ever see it lifting.
It has taken me awhile to write about this because – I know this sounds silly – but I wanted to see if “it would stick.” I was tired of telling people I was okay and the next day I was not.
However, I spent the past 6 weeks up north meeting with friends who I hadn’t seen in about a year. And when they asked how I was doing, I genuinely could report that I was doing well.
And just recently my mom saw me laugh and she said, “It is so great seeing you laugh again.”
And just this weekend, now that I am back home, I met with two friends on separate days. Both of them specifically said the words “You just seem so much happier.”
So I now feel confident to share the above details with you. I finally feel like my sadness has lifted. It doesn’t mean that my days from here on out will always be wonderful and easy. And it doesn’t mean that I won’t ever have another day or season of sadness.
But it does mean that for today – I am happy.
As I was talking to one of my friends yesterday, I told her that I have certainly learned a great deal through this season. Walking through a year of sadness was not easy and it took way longer than I ever expected it to take. But the timing was the Lord’s. I learned that the reason it took so long for complete healing was not because my faith was weak. It didn’t take that long because I wasn’t doing something right. It took that long because God allowed it to take that long.
It wouldn’t have been my choice, but then again, I wouldn’t have chosen to be locked in a bedroom when I was three either.
Just like my parents were doing what they thought was best and helping me learn a lesson of obedience (and learning to sleep by myself), God must have thought that a year of sadness was best for me as well.
Oh and on a side note – thank goodness I learned that lesson of being okay sleeping alone – because it certainly has come in handy the past – hmmmm let’s see …32 minus 3…29 years!
So as you may imagine, I still have a very strong desire to be married one day and to have kids. So I would be lying if I said I didn’t still wonder and question the Lord when that will happen for me. But I wake up each day knowing that contentment is a choice. It’s not an easy choice and some days I still fail. But what I do know is, I am at this place in my life for a reason.
I was listening to a sermon from Matt Chandler on singleness during my thirteen hour drive home a few days ago and one of the quotes he stated was from Paige Benton Brown. It almost made me want to pull over so I could write it down. I didn’t, but I went back and looked it up.
“I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to deserve a husband or too spiritually mature to need one. I am single because God is good and this is His best for me.”
Dear friends, may you have hope in God’s best for you.
I pray that if you are going through a season of sadness currently in your life, that you are almost at the end. I pray that God gives you a reminder of His love for you in a powerful way and that you too will feel the dark cloud of sadness lift and a rainbow of happiness begin to stretch over your life.
The picture below was taken a few weeks ago at the lake. As I took the picture, I thanked God for being so good to His children, especially me.
Because God is good in the midst of sadness AND in the midst of happiness.
Thank you Lord for your rainbow and your constant reminders.