If you haven’t already experienced it, a time in your life will come when you look around and wonder if things could possibly get any worse. It feels like there’s no faith left to muster. No hope left in the crevices of your heart. No joy to find in the wells of your soul. No happiness. No good news. No laughter. Only tears, doubt, anguish, and disappointment. It feels like you are suffocating under the weight of a wet, velvet cloak. Like you’re dragging around an unbearable burden…and no matter what anyone says or does, the pain never seems to go away. Good news never seems to come. The rain never stops pouring, and it feels like darkness is your closest friend, as one of the psalmists wrote.
I had this moment three years ago, when after sharing my story for the first time, my family fell into pieces while I was falling into pieces and everyone was angry and guilty and sad and confused at the same time. The things I relied on collapsed before my eyes. Everything inside me was shifting, too, as I began to unpack the implications of sexual abuse, codependency, addictions, family structure, and a disordered view of God. One night I fell on my bed and sobbed for hours, yelling at the top of my lungs to a Father I was only half-certain existed. Another night I screamed in my car, hitting the steering wheel until my hands were sore. I skipped an inordinate amount of college classes. I watched movie after movie in an attempt to escape. I pushed people away. I pushed God away. I took up painting and baking. I cried until my eyes felt numb.
I sat at my piano and wept, playing the same four chords over and over again, sob-singing until I was out of words to say. I wanted to open up my chest and tear my heart out so I wouldn’t hurt anymore.
Those years never felt like they were going to end.
I couldn’t see a way out, a way for things to get better.
Being rich in mercy,
Because of the great love with which he loved me,
Even when I was dead in my trespasses,
(Even when my family was falling apart,
Even when I was falling apart,
Even when I was angry, yelling,
Flailing, sobbing and hopeless),
He made me alive with Christ.
By grace I have been saved.
(See Ephesians 2:4-5)
Three years ago I could not have predicted the ways in which God was going to intervene on my behalf, and while it was excruciatingly painful, he carried me through. I am alive and more like Christ because of those years. He changed my heart and the hearts of many around me. He moved mountains. At the right time, deserts bloomed with rivers of living water. Joy leapt in my stomach like a baby. Faith soothed the fears that tortured my mind. Hope strengthened my bones.
All because these two words found their way into my story: But God.
Those words are in your story, too, even when you don’t feel like it.
Especially when you don’t feel like it.
If you are in a season of despair, please believe me when I say I know how it feels. How it hurts. How it never seems to end. Please also believe that as you lean into God, with whatever amount of faith you can, he will respond in ways you can’t imagine. In ways that work for your good. In ways that change you. He will intervene. He is powerful. Good. Faithful. Compassionate. He will not leave you out to dry. Turn to him. Lean on him. Watch as he shows you his power. As he takes the most broken parts of your life and turns them around for good. He changes things, he really does. My life is proof.
As you think about your life, then, remember these two words: But God.
Abuse? But God.
Dysfunction? But God.
Job loss? But God.
Cancer? But God.
Anger and doubt and confusion and sadness? But God.
Abandonment? But God.
Addiction? But God.
Depression? But God.
Divorce? But God.
Rejection? But God.
Trauma? But God.
Fear? But God.
Death? But God.
Those two words change everything.
“…And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”