Field Notes: In the Valley

I sit here watching Beth Moore video on my tiny little TV in the corner of my living room.  Now, Beth offends every Christian-hipster bone in my body but I love her still for she speaks such sweet truth to my sad heart. She's in the style of  a "tele-evangelist" and appears on Christian programming with the perfect Southern Baptist accent, hair big with spray, and clothes from Dallas-country.  But when she speaks, Jesus sits by me, strokes my hair and whispers comfort in my ear. Its not her, though she is lovely, but the words of God she repeats.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the awful despair of depression - of being in a valley so deep you forget the sun ever existed. So, I want to follow up; I want to share more of the difficult story that's unfolding this year.

The seething pervasiveness of despair leaves you feeling powerless. Have you felt this? I hope you never do, I hope your spirit is never limp within you; that it never trembles before a night's sleep.  I tell you I feel powerless in my sadness and fear.  Its thought rather strange in a cheerful person like me, but beneath the smile lives a woman so deeply sad for the world, so deeply grieved by hate, injustice and personal sin, that my mind gets lost in it all.  Even still God is faithful.

I battle against voices in my head that tell me empathy, passion, and a heart for mercy is naive, irresponsible, and tainted so far with my own pride that all genuine purity and goodness is lost. God does not love me - he scorns me for my white-girl privileged arrogance. And if its not that pack of troubles its that I'm not doing ENOUGH to fight for justice, mercy, and love.  Every corner of my mind can be twisted and confused with lies.  AHHH! Stop talking!

{your goodness, love and mercy will follow me all the days of my life}

So I must stop thinking.  Shut up! {hmm, I must sound pretty crazy} I've even started talking to myself. Its full on psychological warfare. Naturally this can be exhausting and I end many of my days in tears.  Even still God is faithful.  Even still I will praise him.  As Beth just said across my TV screen, "pick up praise like a weapon".  Now, Beth, your hair tells me I can't take you seriously, but my heart tells me your right - God is right.

Isaiah 61:3

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
   instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
   instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
   instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   a planting of the LORD
   for the display of his splendor.

You know what I miss most about school? Praise Chapel. There was some serious battling going on in there, and I betcha most of us didn't even know it. Its precious -"a declaration of war", and I want to be in the valley of praise, not death. Hallelujah!
So let me tell you about my praise today:

Michael surprised me by taking me to Lake Johanna on campus for a quick swim. We stripped to our suits, {a smidge awkward for me since I've never been in my swimsuit around him before, but he's a sweetheart and proceeded to dunk me under the water} and collected rocks at the bottom of the lake.  Then we lay in the sun to dry like raisins before he had to go to work.  I love learning about him, he treats me like a princess and I have to give myself permission to relax {the curse of being an eldest child}.

Secondly, my dear friend Laura is returning from Rhode Island to Minnesota on the first leg of her journey to California {to become a phenomenal musician} and she's staying the night at our little abode. I miss her to pieces. Someone should tell her to take me with her - though I don't think LA and I would be friends.

Thirdly, it is the 1st anniversary of The Traveling Cabinet Shop, and I've had a wonderful creating new things and preparing giveaways. Its something to make one smile :)

Hopeful things in the midst...

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself." 
- C.S. Lewis {mere christianity}