It’s been almost a month since I’ve written anything, and I mean anything. Nothing public, nothing in my private journals. I haven’t had the energy, the heart or the words for it. Even now part of my brain is screaming at me not to do this. It’s just self-serving; you’re just wanting attention; you just want people to feel sorry for you. I’ve been in a place I don’t allow anyone else to visit, and I mean NO ONE. It’s a place I don’t like to go, and I do everything to avoid it. I’ve been reading a lot of books lately, one of my passions and sadly one of my most effective avoidance techniques. Even that’s worked against me; the stories didn’t satisfy, and in fact pushed me further into that place.
Christians often speak of God “working on me” or having times when there’s an awareness of “God really dealing with me”. Most of the time it may be an area where we struggle but still can share the experiences with others. But there are other times as well; darker, scarier ones that travel deep into places where the worst pain and the deepest wounds exist. Places where there’s only God and you dealing with each other, and He’s not saying much. Places where you choose to bleed to death or finally surrender to the healing you need so badly. Places only God can heal.
We all instinctively understand this, because we all have those dark places; some are much, much darker than others. It’s the place where self-illusions are stripped away, where our rationalizations and delusions are laid open as just lies we tell ourselves. The place where we are finally forced to face the truth of who we are, no matter how awful or disappointing. It’s the last place any of us are willing to go but until we do we will never be whole, never be what God desires us to be.
All I’ll say about the experience is this: as usual, God’s timing is right and perfect. I was there because it’s where I needed to be. There were some things which remained unaddressed and festering. It involved some grieving; over my Mom’s death, over my wife’s cancer, over my own, about mortality, and loss. It was the beginning of stripping away some things which have kept me from moving forward, a place where God has begun to build something new, something I don’t yet recognize. It involved emotional wreckage I never wanted anyone else to see. But it needs to be done so I may heal. It’s the only way God can finally begin cleaning up the wounds so they eventually become only scars. And it feels as though I’ve bled all over the place telling you this; I’m way out of my comfort zone.
So why am I doing this? Why here? It would have been safer, and just as cathartic, to hide this away in a private journal. This is why. Because some of you are in dark places, too. You feel all alone, think no one can understand, much less do anything to help you. And even though it might not seem like it, people have noticed; you just can’t see it (neither did I). You wonder if it will ever end, ever get better. You may have hope, but it’s hard to see when you’re in the dark. And when the days are short, cold, and gray, the next wave of the pandemic has locked you away once again, and the feeling of being alone is overwhelming, that hope gets stretched pretty thin.
I want you to know: I understand how it is. A lot of us do. Imperfectly; after all, none of us ever truly understands someone else’s situation. I’ve been to the dark places and I don’t think I’m finished there yet. But we can sit together, talk together, maybe cry together. You are not alone in this. You don’t have to do this by yourself. You can’t; and neither can we. But we can help each other. Please.