“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’- Luke 15: 4-6
Have you ever felt so alone that you weren’t even sure you were alive anymore? Or what about the feeling of being so lonely that your heart literally feels like its being eaten by your stomach? I’ve been there, just recently in fact. I just recently went through a season of complete emptyness and despair. I looked in every direction and saw no one, no light, no hope, no love, nothing. It was just black, sad, and there were many many moments when I would lay in bed at night, crying myself to sleep, asking God to take me home.
I never would have taken my own life, but i do know that I can only fight those feelings for so long before they become a reality.
So one night, after I began to realize how sick my mind was really becoming, I reached out for help to an old friend. That could be another story in and of itself, but for now I will stay on this topic.
After reaching out for help, I began the road to healing, and I began to learn some seriously important lessons that I now realize I never would have learned had I never gone through that valley.
My husband and I started counseling shortly after I began down the road of getting out of that valley. Sitting in front of the counselor a few weeks ago, we came to an astonishing conclusion together. I opened my mouth and out came, “I feel like I am paying the consequences of my husbands failures. I am carrying the weight of his mistakes.” Wow! What a powerful statement. As soon as I said it, I immediately grabbed the vision of Christ on the cross and I instantly heard God say,
“Isn’t that what I did for you? Isn’t that what I do for you?”
Oh man did I feel convicted. I immediately then heard, “That’s what marriage is MEANT to be if its for me.”
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”- Romans 5:8
What a moment I had. It was true. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did for us? He did nothing wrong and yet He came to die and conquer death just to carry the weight of all my mistakes. He carries the burdens of my failures. How could I ever be angry at my husband for being asked to do the same thing? I can’t. That would be hypocritical. Not only that but as a follower of Christ, I deeply desire to do all that is righteous in His eyes and carrying the weight of my husbands burdens as his partner, his help meet, is exactly what I need to do.
The other realization I came to in that meeting was when the therapist asked me a question, “Do you love your husband just as he is right now, not as you want him to be?” The honest answer in that moment was no. I do not. Again, immediate conviction of the Holy Spirit as I realized how terrible that sounded. I have always believed so strongly in my husbands abilities. I know he could build a mall out of dental floss and aluminum foil in the middle of the forest if I left him to do that. The problem is, I loved him for what I thought he could be, for what I believed he was capable of. I didn’t love my husband for who he is right in this moment.
I can honestly say that was the single most helpful session we had, because it made me realize how much my heart needs to change.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I have never thought I was perfect, and in fact have been very thankful for all my flaws, because through them I learn. Just as I am now. When a fault, a sin, or a mistake happen to me, I try to take it with stride and realize how important the lessons are, and I grow. I change. I make myself better every time in order to be a better me.
Next comes the lesson of friendship. I have learned over the past few months just how important friendship is. The true friend that is with you through thick or thin, rain or shine, no matter what. Crazy thing is, my best friend, my true best friend in life, is my husband. For the past 7 years, my husband and I have gone through a lot. Death, new life, financial loss, sickness, etc etc. He’s been there every moment, never ran away. He may not always know what to say, or how to say it, but he is always there. Yet here I was, treating him as if none of that mattered.
Friendships with other women have become such an important part of my lessons lately too. I realized how important it is to have other women to teach you, guide you, direct your path so that you can be a better wife and mother. Yes, scripture is the most important part of that direction. Yes, God should direct my path, but sometimes we need the wisdom of others to help discern that path, to correct us of our mistakes. I value the women who have come into my life tremendously. I appreciate them more than they will ever know. So to those women, all of them, no matter how big or small they appear to have been, thank you.
Last but certainly not least, the biggest lesson of them all…. the importance of the lost sheep. Jesus talks about in scripture how if there were one lost sheep, the farmer would leave his entire flock to chase after that one sheep. Most sermons discuss this passage and reflect on the importance of that one sheep, the value in it repenting and being saved for Christ’s kingdom, and that being the reason the Shepard would chase it down. I have come to realize that is not the only reason.
“Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”- 1 Peter 5:8
I now see the danger that lies in the separation. The peril you place yourself in when you are all alone, in the middle of the desert, with no flock around to protect you. You become the easiest target for the lion to attack.
Picture yourself in the middle of the desert, its late out and the only light you have are the stars in the sky giving way to small amounts of directed light and casting shadows on the trees. In the distance you can hear rustling on the ground, branches breaking and you know there is something out there. You can hear the breathing of a large animal, lurking, circling you. You can’t see it though, you can only hear its foot steps and the sound of its breath as it exhales. This is the lion, coming to claim you as his prey. There’s no one around you to help, no one to save you. How do you expect to fight off this lion all by yourself?
Now I do believe that with the power of Christ, you can do anything, include kill a lion with your bare hands. I do believe you can defeat that dragon with one swift blow of the sword of the Spirit all by yourself for the Spirit within us is far more powerful than we realize.
“…For He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” -1 John 4:4
However the ability for you to defeat the dragon on your own becomes very slim when you’ve been in the desert for any extended period of time. The enemy is sly, and smart. He will not attack you when you are just starting off in the desert, when you’ve just wondered away from the pack. He is wiser than that. He knows that you are too strong at the beginning. He knows that in order to kill you, destroy your soul, he needs to wait until you are weak. To do so takes time, patience, and believe me, the enemy has plenty. The enemy will wear you down, little by little. He will follow you as you wonder through that desert, whispering lies a little at a time, planting the seeds of your very destruction. When you’ve been worn down, your clothes are tattered, and your heart is heavy; when your beyond thirsty, longing for the desert to end even if it means your death, THAT’S when he attacks and if you allow yourself to be in that desert all alone long enough, he will win. I’ve seen it happen far too many times to doubt any less.
This is why Jesus goes after the lost sheep. He knows that sheep is in extreme danger if left out there on its own. This is why I reached out when I did. I realized the importance of that lost sheep, how I was that sheep, and how Jesus was going after me, pulling me back to the flock so I could be safe.
My prayer for all those who are reading this right now is simply this, “If you find yourself in the desert, wondering hopeless and alone, please do not be that sheep any longer. Reach out for the flock, ask God to take you back to safety and help you defeat this enemy.”
Healing takes time, I’m not healed yet. I have a long way to go and I’m ok with that. I realize that in every pain, there is a lesson, in every sorrow there is joy. Even if it takes me a long time to see, I know one day I will. I can’t explain all the terrible that happens on earth, I won’t try to. Yet I know that at the end of the day, being surrounded by the flock, being apart of the Lords kingdom, a warrior of Christ means I will get through anything and everything that the enemy throws at me. EVERYTHING.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”- John 10:10
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