Pits of Despair

Opening my front door, I paused, surveying the mess before me. Sighing, I walked pass the massive pile of coats and shoes, a sure sign we were running late for school this morning. Dropping my keys on the kitchen counter, I pushed aside dirty bowls and mugs, searching for my half finished coffee. After I rinsed out the old coffee, I began to brew another cup. Eyeing the open box of Cheerios on the table, I decided, why not? Carrying my coffee and the cereal box to the couch, I kicked off my shoes. Unzipping my jean skirt, I let it fall to the floor, shaking my pajama pants lose. Wrapping myself up in a soft, fuzzy blanket, I sat down on the couch and turned on Netflix. I strategically kept my eyes from veering to the corner of my living room, where a tall stack of laundry baskets awaited my attention.

I stayed on that couch for 5 hours, and nearly got through an entire season of The Andy Griffith Show.

 I ignored my phone. I ignored my house. I ignored my husbands cancer. For an entire 5 hours, I was living in a small town called Mayberry, laughing at the antics of Barney and Andy.

At 2:00, I finally got off the couch. I spent the next 45 minutes quickly picking up my house, throwing dishes in the dishwasher, and washing the grease out of my hair. I got dressed, and found pizza coupons from yesterday’s mail. Tonight was going to be a pizza night. My kids would love me.

Arriving at the school at exactly 3:05, guilt began to fill my entire being. What a hypocrite I am. What a loser. An entire day wasted! And what a liar, because when the kids and I finally walked through the door, the house looked clean, like I had actually done something that day. Worse yet, I offered my kids a dollar for each basket of laundry they folded. By the time my husband came home from work, he wouldn’t have the slightest clue that I had visited Mayberry that day.

Looking back, I am able to say with confidence, I had fallen into a pit. Or as Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables would say, I was in “the depths of despair”.

“I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:  Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.” – Psalms 88:4‭ & 6

Here is what I learned about being in a pit.

#1 – It happens, and it’s OK. When we go through trying times in our lives, it is common to find ourselves having a “blue” day.  It has been scientifically proven that stress effects our bodies physically and mentally. Taking a day off from the stress of life can help rejuvenate our souls, giving us the strength to continue the journey we are facing. Don’t feel guilty for needing a day off from stress.

“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path.” – Psalms 142:3a

#2 – It’s easier to get into a pit than it is to get out. It’s not like we went looking for a dark hole in the ground and said, “hey, that looks fun”, and jumped in it. Yes, there are circumstances where we actually digged the pit we fell into.  Sometimes, however, we are just walking along, not paying attention, and we fall in. Getting out is going to require some work. Don’t be hard on yourself if you are struggling to get out of a pit.

“I waited patiently for the Lord ; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” – Psalms 40:1

#3 – You can’t get out of a pit by yourself. Sometimes all it takes is meeting a friend for coffee or going to church and talking to your sisters and brothers in Christ. Strike up a conversation with someone you know will make you laugh! Maybe your pit is a little deeper and you need to consider counseling from your pastor.  If you have found yourself in a pit, you are going to need someone to throw you down a rope or a ladder. Don’t be too prideful to ask for help!

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another…” – Hebrews 10:25a

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine..” –  Proverbs 17:22a

#4 – God promised He would bring you out of your pit. He has offered His Holy Word to anyone who will accept it, and it is full of amazing truths and promises of comfort and love. Reading through Psalms is a good way to soothe and encourage yourself in the Lord. Singing songs of Praise is also good way to begin your climb out of the pit. Praising God when we find it hard to do not only lifts your spirit, it pleases God, and glorifies Him! Don’t neglect God’s offer to pull you out of your pit!

“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” – Psalms 40:2

Dear reader, if you find yourself in a pit, don’t get discouraged. You won’t be there for ever! By the end of the week, the blue cloud that had been hanging around me finally lifted. I was able to get up and take better care of my crazy family. I was able to actually shower and dress for my day, shop for groceries, clean my house, and even take my husband to his doctor appointment. Oh, and I made a delicious dinner that night!

Stand Still

“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord ,” – Exodus 14:13a

Sometimes I view my life as a swirling tornado. The wind is blowing everything around, sucking it up into it’s dark cloud. I am standing in the middle of it, my feet firmly planted to the ground, holding on to as much as I can, trying to keep everything from being swept away.

Lately I have felt a bit overwhelmed by our schedule. Nuerologist, cardiologist, PCP, oncologist, endocrinologist, chiropractor, orthodandist, dermatologist, dentist, chemotherapy, radiation – just to name a few things that have taken up my time in recent weeks. Let’s not forget laundry, house cleaning, library trips, grocery store trips, post office trips, trips to the school office, forgotten-lunch-runs, piano lessons, basketball, soccer, volleyball, school programs, baby showers, bridal showers, sports tryouts, field trips – please, someone stop me!

Those are the physical things that can tend to be overwhelming. Now let’s talk about the emotional stuff.

There is the fear that seems to rear it’s ugly head into my thoughts every so often. Fear that my husbands cancer will spread to stage 4, or show up in five years to surprise us again.

Another emotional drainer is the battle with being content. Remembering we are where God put us right now, and that He will continue to take care of us, is something I need to do daily.

I have two teenagers at home. That is also another emotional strain. They at times will bring me along for a drama-filled roller coaster ride! My two grade-school boys are still trying to understand “why can’t we go camping” and “why can’t daddy play basketball with us”?

I don’t believe any of these “objects” that I mentioned that are swirling around in my stormy life are much different from anyone elses.

Maybe your storm isn’t illness. Maybe it’s a struggling marriage or a wayward child. You may be struggling financially or have a big life-changing decision to make.

Sometimes when it all starts getting crazy, I find that I’m trying to hold on to as much as I can, hoping it doesn’t fly away into the storm. It is in some of those moments, when I feel that things are slipping from my grasp, that I  can’t help but ask, “is God really in my storm?” 

Yes, He’s here. In fact, He’s on top of the storm. He is in the whirlwind, directing it’s path.

“…the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” – Nahum 1:3

I have learned the hard way, that I can’t hold on to everything. I have to let some things get swept away into the storming clouds. I can’t keep my house as clean as I used to or have my perfect laundry schedule and get my husband to all his appointments. I mean, I could, and then I would go crazy! Sometimes, I have to tell my kids “sorry, but I just can’t take you to that thing you want to do”.  I mean, I could, but then I might go crazy!

Sometimes I just need to stand still in that storm, my feet planted firmly into the ground, and watch everything I am trying to hold onto, be swept away into those swirling clouds.

Standing still in a storm is not easy to do. Yet, if we make ourselves do it, and listen to God’s voice, we can see God riding the storm.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalms 46:10

And then – when we have finally stopped trying to hold our lives together on our own, and we are standing there watching the storm destroy everything – only then, does God move in and bring peace.

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” – Mark 4:39