Another season that we all experience in the Christian life is a season of darkness. You might call it grief, loneliness, discouragement, despair...but you know what I mean. When Mark and I got married, it seemed that all our friends got married within the same year, and they all had babies very soon after that. We didn't. My goals in life were simple: I wanted to be a wife and a mom, and I somehow thought that the one followed the other quite soon. I became discontent and discouraged.
In the third year of our marriage, we lost two babies. No one told me that miscarriage can lead to postpartum depression. It was a very dark year. But it was the year I started reading Psalms again. I'd discovered Psalms when I was a teenager and I was in a bit of a dark year—my best friend Lissa had moved away and I was lonely!
I also rediscovered another favorite verse: Hebrews 13:5. I knew the last part: "He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you,'" but I noticed a bit more of that verse: “Be satisfied with what you have.” I felt that God was asking me, “Am I enough?” and I realized that I was living as if He wasn't enough.
I finally saw the light at the end of that dark season, strangely enough, on September 11th, 2001. By that time I was pregnant with Lydia but I'd really given up hope that I'd ever have a living child—everyday I expected something to go wrong. I sat on the couch and watched the television that day and I prayed for our nation—and I realized I wasn't the only person in the whole world who was grieving.
Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)
I love this verse. When dark seasons come, they cannot overcome the Light.
Next, I entered a Season of Change.
Lydia was born in October, 2001. We sent out baby announcements that included
Psalm 126:3: "The Lord has done great things for us and we are glad."
I loved being a mom. Lydia was so beautiful and I felt complete. When Lydia was seven months old, Mark and I celebrated our fifth anniversary, and I was so excited (I'd lost weight and I was wearing a skirt I'd bought five years before) Mark was strangely quiet. The next day he told me he'd lost his job. I told him he was not supposed to carry burdens like that overnight without telling me!
I remembered the dark season we'd just been through, and I thought, “well, we've been through worse things! We have God, we have each other, we'll survive!”
Later that day we heard about job opportunities in Las Vegas. We'd never been to Vegas. Within two weeks he had a job offer, and within two months we moved.
It was a whirlwind summer and it was exciting and the desert was very hot but I was fascinated with the palm trees...and then suddenly that fall the palm trees weren't interesting anymore and I began to wonder what in the world I was doing in the desert. I had this repeating thought: “This just isn't the way I pictured my life!” Over and over again, it echoed in my mind.
That fall, Several ladies from our church went to a women's conference where Elizabeth George was speaking. I'd never heard of Elizabeth George, but I wanted to get acquainted with women from church, so I went too. Elizabeth talked about overcoming discouragement. She talked about meditating on God's truth, the the truth of reality—not the what if's and the if only's and the thoughts of “this isn't the way I pictured it.”
When I heard that phrase that had been replaying in my head, I took notice of her next words: “No, this isn't the way you pictured it. But this is the way it is. Stop yelling. Get up. Move on.” I bought her book “Loving God with all Your Mind” and read and reread it, and I began to absorb the fact that change—when it's planned by God—is a good thing. I realized that God had removed a lot of distractions from my life—things I loved—nearby friends and family and beautiful scenery and rain—in order that I would focus on Him. When Lydia took her afternoon naps, I drank a lot of tea and read a lot of scriptures, especially the book of Philippians.
Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)