When postpartum depression, circumstances, and the past collided into a firestorm of the testing of my faith, I was having a lot of trouble reaching God. I had to start scribbling Bible verses on sticky notes to plaster all over my home in order to keep my attention focused where it needed to be. I even sobbed to my physician and told her that the only way I felt I could keep going was to wallpaper my home in scripture. I looked at her and asked, “Am I going crazy? I feel a little crazy with my new wallpaper.” She shook her head compassionately, held my hand, and assured me I would be getting more oriented and stable. She promised me I would smile again. I didn’t quite believe her.
Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress is very blinding, because it snuffs out any perception of the light. It is insidious and slithery the way it can bind you, gag you, and hog-tie you down in a dark cave.
Out of all my scriptural wallpaper, there was one particular verse that I kept staring at and praying over every single day. It was the verse that baffled me the most because my heart was not in a state to perceive it. It was the verse that left me frustrated and feeling very tried. For more than two years, I prayed and chewed on this one verse.
I have wadded up that verse on the fluorescent pink sticky note and tossed it in the trash many a time and let God know He might as well give up; I was never going to understand joy.
I would fish for it out of the trash later and ask God to forgive the state I was in. I have had that pink sticky note clutched to my chest in the moments I felt the most bombarded with hopelessness.
Amazingly, God used that verse to draw me to my knees as I finally made the choice to forgive the ‘unforgivable’ and allow the compassion of Christ to fill my heart.
After opening up more of my story, on here and to those in the real world who need to feel less alone, I have started to feel extremely vulnerable. Will people judge me? Will they scoff at me? Will I be dismissed easily? Will they think I am as damaged as I have felt for so long? Am I doing the right thing with all of this? Will someone use this to try to hurt me?
I woke up this morning confused and thinking that I was somewhere I was not. At first it was the alley, then other places showed up in my mind’s eye, and then I started seeing faces I did not wish to see. It was too much.
I asked God to orient me to my surroundings and put a bridle on my attitude, quickly. I hollered at Him about being sick and tired of those old tapes taunting me and trying to pull me from His presence. I hollered at Him that we had already walked through forgiveness and I needed that forgiveness to become cemented into my heart. Yes, I holler a lot, but I also soften and praise a lot, too. Sometimes, I holler my praise! I can be a bit spunky.
Then, I remembered the rose.
My oldest and dearest friend kept a rose in a vase when I was missing in 1990 and the rose stayed alive for months. When we were reunited after I came home, she gave me that rose, still alive in the vase. She told me she knew I was still alive as long as the rose was alive. She told me she went to the Catholic church and lit candles for me and prayed to keep that rose alive.
I used to play a song on the piano called “The Rose” by Bette Midler. Anyone who knew me then had to listen to me play and sing that song over and over and over again. That song was, for some reason, such a soothing piece of music to me at the time. My mother probably still gets ear-worms of me at the piano and singing my heart out.
The rose my friend gave me eventually dried up, but I kept it in a box for years. I would pull it out anytime I wanted to feel close to someone I loved. I finally had to part with that flower several years ago when it was too broken and withered to even try to keep. When I tossed the fragments of the rose into the trashcan, I cried because I felt like just that rose; too broken to even try to keep.
Just as I had all but given up on my attitude for the day, I saw that withered, fragmented rose in my mind’s eye.
Then, three very special people came to knock on my door and, when I opened my door, the love and compassion of God walked right in with them.
I saw the fragmented pieces of my life falling into the trash, I saw the tears I cried, I saw the day my friend hugged me and gave me that rose, and then I saw Jesus:
The Rose of Sharon in Song of Solomon 2:1:
I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
I saw my heart start to blossom and bloom, just like a rose in a vase being nurtured by water. I saw that rose shine with light as it was surrounded by tender loving care.
That verse just happened to be the verse of the day today. That one verse that had kept me baffled for so very long took root and my heart blossomed and bloomed with JOY!
It surpasses my understanding and leaves me in awe of the way the fragmented and broken pieces of our lives can be put back together and then blossom into NEW LIFE.
May Your Spirit bless us all and touch our hearts so that we can begin to bloom like the Rose of Sharon. Thank You for the peace that surpasses any and all understanding! Thank You, once again, for the tender loving care I have received! Please bless every single person that is associated to me in any way, shape, or form!
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
This post appears in the book: Shattered in Him © 2016 JD Mays