I was thinking tonight, about the way I've been feeling a lot lately, like a woman drowning, flailing about, just trying to keep my head above water. I was actually feeling kind of guilty about it because I can very quickly think of a long list of people I know who are in much tougher battles than I am, and who am I to complain about my struggles when they pale so in comparison to others.
As I was lamenting my own weaknesses it came to mind the reality of drownings. I remember reading articles when my children were little about how dangerous it was to even leave a bucket of water around unattended could be a dangerous hazard to an unsteady toddler who might fall in head first. It seems strange, but it is true.
It occurred to me the dangers of drowning have just as much to do with the person as they do the body of water they're in. Even the strongest swimmer who in the right condition can surmount big and powerful waves, could be at risk of drowning in a pool if he were weary enough. Where one man might be able to stand securely in that pool, a smaller person might not even be able to keep her head above water.
As the pictures came through my mind, it released a little of the guilt I was feeling for how I have been feeling with my current state. Lots of people have been asking lately how I am, but only a few have remained to dig deeper when my continued response has been, "I'm not in a good place, spiritually. I'm in trouble."
A few have given me the promise of prayers, many have averted their eyes uncomfortably and then changed the subject. Some have just bypassed my response altogether. One friend "chatted" online with me for a little while on line, commiserating with me in her struggles too, but it wasn't until this past Sunday that someone actually stopped to look me in the eye and truly listen. She took my hand and held on to it, and spoke words of comfort, but even more she listened.
I felt a lump rise in my throat and I had to choke it down. So many people who haven't been listening lately, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the someone who was. It's not a judgment on anyone else, I have a long list of friends and acquaintances who I know really care about me and support me, but it's as though I was drifting far enough out from the shore that they couldn't hear my cries for help. Or maybe they were just so overwhelmed by their own pool of water they couldn't even see me in mine. It happens, I know, and I suspect that no one is more guilty of missing the help cries of others more than I.
But as my friend sat and listened to me Sunday morning, it was as though she'd thrown a rope out to me. Maybe not one strong enough to pull me in, but it was at least something, a lifeline, I could hold onto long enough that I wouldn't drift out even further to become even more tired, too tired to even hope to swim to shore.
The night before I had been spending some time online and stopped at one of my favorite blogs, The Perch. The most recent post was where my first true lifeline was found, and this one even felt as though it was pulling me up out of the water some. I told my friend Sunday mroning about what I'd read. Sheryl, the woman who writes her blog from her "Perch" is this amazing woman who has fought her way through adversities I can't even begin to imagine. She continually amazes me with her strength and faith, and most of all her wisdom. The lifeline she threw out from her blog as I read it was a strong rope of wisdom. And when I shared it with my friend Sunday morning she confirmed its wisdom even more.
Sheryl was sharing about a "stall" she is experiencing in her walk with the Lord. I don't know if her stall is one like what I'm feeling struggling adrift, though I didn't get that sense, or if rather she's just hit a plateau, or perhaps even a desert in her journey with the Lord. But she recommended a catalyst in that journey, and in a way I had never really considered before.
She talked about the need to read the Word, which is a classic, obvious recommendation for any believer struggling in any way. It's sort of the "well, duh" of Christianity, because reading the Word is definitely a non-negotiable, but her recommendation wasn't to just read it, but to read it out loud. She said, "It is alive & active and there is no way that I can be speaking the Living Word and not be changed." It was such an "A-ha" moment for me. It seemed so simple and yet so profound.
I'm not ignorant in any sense to the power of God's Word. I always try to use it when I pray for others. I encourage my children to memorize it, knowing what the Lord says about hiding it in our hearts. But I never made the connection between reading it and reading it OUT LOUD. The spoken word is what the Lord used to create the earth and everything in it, so of course my friend Sheryl is right, there is power in speaking it aloud, it will not only have the power to change circumstances, but more importantly, it will change me in the midst of them.
This morning as I was trying to get out of the house and to work on time, I stopped myself and opened the bible and began to read Philippians 2 OUT LOUD.
"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world... (verses 14&15)
There was something powerful about hearing the words, not just reading them, even though they came from my own lips. It was as though I could begin to feel the Lord beginning some small incision in my spiritual heart, no doubt to begin a surgical procedure only He can accomplish.
I still don't feel like I am in a very good place at all. It's sort of like an illness with a bad diagnosis, but I am feeling a little better because the diagnosis has at least been made, and even though I don't fully understand it, my Physician seems both confident and competent to handle the situation, and in some small way, treatment has begun.
My friend, as she sat with me Sunday morning shared her thoughts about the refining process, and how sometimes before God begins a deeper work, He stirs some of the "guck" perhaps call it a carnal infection, deep down inside in order to bring some of those things he needs to deal with to the surface so they can be drawn out and removed. It made me think of the "silver refined" analogy where the silversmith slowly brings up the heat so the impurities will be brought to the top so they can be strained away, increasing the beauty and the value of that silver.
I know for certain that lately lots of "guck" has indeed risen close to the surface. I can only hope it's for such a noble purpose so as to make me cleaner, healthier- better able to reflect the Lord.
I am tired. I don't feel much at all like I am able to swim. I cannot cure myself, I cannot make the circumstances or my response to them better anymore on my own. But I can accept the treatment the Physician offers. I can trust in His wisdom and expertise and allow Him to do what He knows is best, and hope that when this current work is done I will come through it healthier and stronger than before. That's the lifeline I'm holding onto anyway.