Journey – Part One

GodJOURNEY1-782206 did not lead me through these things for my sake only. I know He will receive glory from my testimony of what He did. The question is, how do I share about these things? When and what do I share?

Without question 2006 stands as the most painful, challenging year of my life thus far. Praise God that we do not know what the future holds–or we may lack the courage and willingness to face it.

Our testings and trials come on one of four levels: Mental, Emotional, Physical, and most of all, Spiritual. Sometimes we are hit on all fronts at the same time, which is enough to bring us to our knees…or flat on our faces. When this happened to me last year it nearly overwhelmed me.

Have you ever been so weighed down that even breathing seemed not worth the effort under such crushing pain? I remember days when I honestly did not think I would survive…and times when I hoped I wouldn’t.

This is no casual exaggeration. I’m guessing there are at least two types of girls who will read this: those who are shocked, cannot imagine how any godly Christian could sink so low, and leave disappointed; and those who know exactly what I mean.

My words cannot change your mind on the matter. My only goal is to share for those who, like me, desperately needed someone who could understand. Someone who could look them in the eye and say, “I know what it is like to want to give up. I know about hurt so deep that even thinking about it brings tears and physical pain. I know how it feels to seek God, scrabbling at the ceiling til fingers bleed trying to hear His voice. Hang on.

For those who have lived with a body exhausted from the fight, a bleeding heart, a mind confused and searching, or a broken spirit…this is for you.

As welcome as it would have been, no one person possessed the answers I needed, or could rescue me from the pain or make things “good” once more. By God’s grace, several loved ones held on to me and kept me from plunging headlong into the darkness–but I still had to fight my way inch by inch up the cliff alone.

Just me and God. He alone could join me on the cliff face and help me climb. Like Shasta on the horse lost in the mountains between Narnia and Archenland, I could not always see Him. But Aslan never left Shasta’s side. In the same way, my Father never left mine, even when I felt utterly forsaken.

Could the Lord rescue me if it pleased Him? Could He restore my body, soothe my heart, clear my mind, heal my spirit? Of course. But I knew He did not have to. With the darkness numbing my vision, I expected nothing from Him. Our God makes no promises for happiness, healing, or an easy life–not in this world. And it often felt like one step forward, three skids backward. For a long time the horrific darkness tried to smothered me. Some of you know the darkness I speak of: you seem on the edge of hell itself. Until last year I never knew what that meant.

That which does not kill you makes you stronger. – Victor Frankl

I see this now. It does not bring joy or a sense of accomplishment…just an understanding. One that in itself brings more strength. This strength is that of the indwelling Spirit working through our weaknesses. No other kind of strength matters.

Some of the things of which I write are rarely (ever?) talked about amongst my circles. Some of it is frightening, some of it is just ugly. I imagine certain groups might look down on me for these writings, but the idea of that making a difference to me is admittedly laughable. It’s not about me anyway.

It’s about healing.

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
Psalm 31:1

Read the entire Journey series.

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One thought on “Journey – Part One

  1. Archived Comments:

    At 11:58 PM, BrittLeigh said…
    Wow, what a post! I’m afraid I can raise my hand and say, “That was me!” You described me in words that I couldn’t even pen in my own state of heart-wrenching sorrow and despair. Looking back, I couldn’t even pin point directly what was eating away at my joy. I guess it was a lot of things. Separation had robbed me of my brother, anger had robbed me of a healthy relationship, death had robbed me of a dear loved one… and on the story goes. Yet now as I consider where I am today, see how far God has led me in a span of a month… and look back at those dark and bitter months, I see one set of footprints. He’s been so faithful to me, carrying me through it all. This post touched my heart, and I can’t wait to see what your continued thoughts are. Thanks for sharing from your heart. May God richly bless you!

    At 6:41 AM, Laura Anne said…
    Thank you, Natalie! I know Lara said it is just what young girls need to hear, but I think it’s also what young women need to hear! There’s something scary about the 20’s and young adulthood– learning where you are going, wondering if a special someone will come to journey with you through life, and so on. The past year has been one of those where darkness threatens. I feel like I’m on the way out and I am amazed when I look back and see the faithfulness of God. You’re right that we don’t always see or feel Him, but He is so there and He is working everything out. On one hand, I feel so ashamed for my lack of trust– on the other, I’m thankful for the experience so that I could learn from it and hopefully gain strength.
    I know you said you would avoid unnecessary details, but I have to say I’d actually like some of the details of what you went through. I think it helps put the picture together better when you add the concrete to the abstract.
    May God shower you with His blessings.

    In His joy,
    Laura

    At 7:22 AM, Anonymous said…
    Natalie,
    many people (including me) have felt this way during the journey.. and it is only by the grace of God that I have endured. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series!… and I had to smile at the Narnia reference–what an accurate picture of the presence of God in the darkness! :)
    in Christ,
    Naomi

    At 9:41 AM, Cheri said…
    Thank you for being willing to share with us! I am one of those who can understand…

    At 10:42 AM, Anonymous said…
    Thank you Natalie for writing such a vulnerable and real article. I have felt that way before…and while it is never pleasant, God has always brought something beautiful from the pain.
    Thank you!
    ~Anna

    At 11:38 AM, Susan said…
    Thank you so much for being willing to share this with us, Natalie, and being vulnerable. I do agree with Laura that the concrete can really help the abstract. Anyway, I don’t want you to share anything you don’t feel you can, but I’ve found with my own testimonies in the past, that it’s hard to share what God has done without sharing what I have been through, if that makes sense :-). I’m so happy for all God has brought you through.

    At 11:51 AM, Melissa said…
    Dear Natalie,
    As a sister in Christ, I want to tell you that you are NOT alone in your sufferings. Having reached my late twenties, I can say that in the past years I have had several periods of prolonged darkness, full of such loneliness, hopelessness, fear and physical sickness that it makes me want to cry out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” And yet, he has NOT forsaken me, despite the fact that at times I have been as the Psalmist in Ps. 73, “when my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered.” I seem to grasp a little more of his mercy each time I go through this, and pray that the Suffering Servant would reveal his heart to you during this time of tribulation. He wants to take you deeper into His heart, and to pour His glory into your life. That promise doesn’t always make the burden lighter, in the midst of the affliction, however.

    I look forward to hearing your meditations and thoughts. You are a great encouragement to your sisters in Christ.

    Shalom B’Shem Yeshua,
    Melissa

    At 12:18 PM, Ashleigh said…
    What a year it has been…

    Love you, dear one.

    At 12:23 PM, Katie said…
    Thank you, Natalie. I am one who can understand that this does happen to Christians, and my experiences in the abyss were as real as anything can be…. Thank you for being willing to share.

    At 1:03 PM, Natalie Marie said…
    wow. Girls, your response is very encouraging. I’ve been battling against thoughts that I am wasting my time–not to mention causing myself pain–to relive and write about these things.

    It appears though, that I am not alone. :)

    At 2:14 PM, Katie said…
    Thank you for writing this Natalie.
    You have no idea how many girls need to know they arent alone!
    I have walked down this road- and I would have given anything just to have known someone else understood my pain.
    I know God will use this series to reach out to hurting girls, and to revive the souls of women who have felt this very pain (myself included)!
    Thank you for your transparency!
    ~Katie

    At 2:34 PM, Anonymous said…
    You are not alone!
    Thank you so much for your post!

    At 2:52 PM, Anonymous said…
    Hi Natalie
    Thank you for opening your heart and sharing what others don’t dare to write about. I very much appreciate to hear about these difficult and painful months! As you know I’ve also experienced a very tough winter… that’s life, huh? I believe it’s crucial to hear that/how others struggle, too. That not only helps in my own personal journey, but as we ultimately see God at work in your life glorifies Him. I long to hear more!!! And btw I wouldn’t mind more concrete incidents, but just do as is good for you! Take care, Debbie

    At 3:01 PM, Jennifer Amy said…
    Natalie – thank you so much for this post. I do understand, this year has been long and painful for me as well and I have often felt I was at the breaking point. I know that the sacrifices of the Lord are a broken and contrite spirit. (Psalm 51:17) My prayer is that He would work His will in me through the refining fire.
    God bless you!

    At 9:12 PM, Anonymous said…
    Natalie,
    Thanks so much for your honesty… I can tell I’m going to gain a lot from reading these “journey” articles. You are certainly not the only one, and I’m refreshed knowing that i’m not the only one, too! There have been times when all I could hang on to was my faith, and even that felt shaky. God is an Awesome God, though! He loves those that love Him.

    At 9:53 PM, Melinda said…
    Natalie,
    I echo these other young women, thanking you for your openness regarding your struggles. I went through a period similar to what you described recently…it is an encouragement to hear someone speak of such struggles with honesty.

    I look forward to reading and being encouraged by the subsequent articles!

    At 4:59 AM, Liz said…
    Dear Natalie,
    I know *exactly* what you mean.

    My husband does too – although we probably feel and express it in different ways, be encouraged that guys feel these things too, and thus they *can* understand.

    God bless you!
    Liz

    At 11:10 AM, Anonymous said…
    My year was 2004. The infamous 2004… Several points of yours struck me as if I were rereading my own journal. It’s still painful to think about it. Just yesterday I threw out a cd which I had listened to often at that very dark time and that I could not hear again with out the memory of that emotional and physical heaviness and pain. There were times when, like you, I was not sure I wanted to survive. My prayers were always desperate and never was I not sobbing or on my knees while I uttered them. It seemed like God was silent – but He wasn’t. He was leading me through it even while I thought I was still in the “Slough of Despond”. It was difficult – gut-wrenchingly so – but I don’t want to forget it because if I don’t remember just how painful it was, I won’t remember just how greatly our God has shown to me His grace and mercy.

    I think you’re doing the right thing. We can’t pretend that everything is peachy with us all the time – and it’s important that we not take for granted God’s goodness. God Bless you in your efforts to put these experiences to words. I know it must be very difficult.

    At 1:00 PM, Anonymous said…
    i’m not a christian, but i read this site every day. i think your honesty about your story, and how God helps you, is the strongest testiment you could give about your faith. it is easy to believe when times are good–it’s when we are challenged that our faith is put to the test. a tested faith is stronger and is a much better example to those who need God. you build each other up through your encoragements and good experiences–you truly reach out to the lost when you show your tests of faith. this is the most important story you have ever told. tell it bravely and without doubt.

    At 6:01 PM, Anonymous said…
    Natalie,
    Your honest sharing of your heart means a great deal to me. I know that even those who appear to have perfect lives in harmony with God still do have pain, suffering, heartaches, and fears. I cannot profess that I have been hit on all 4 levels at once or have known as deep of pain as you have but I too have felt the agony in my soul, the feeling of being ripped apart and on the edge of despair. Running away from it all (even if only in my head) seemed like an easy answer but God said no. I had to learn to get up every morning and fully depend on His strength to get me through each day. You can be sure that your Journey series is not something I am going to skip. *hugs* May you continue to reach for the prize of the High Calling!
    ~Jaclynn

    At 11:40 PM, Anonymous said…
    tears trickle down my face…this is EXACTLY what I needed to hear right here and and right now at this moment…God why do you love me so much?

    At 7:50 AM, Anonymous said…
    Thanks so much for sharing, Natalie. My heart goes out to you as you bear the “thorns” He has sent your way. I think you’re very right that in Christian circles we don’t talk enough about certain things (simply because they’re not “nice” or pleasant). I think that as Christians we should share the good as well as the bad with each other. “Sorrow shared is half sorrow…” Thanks for your wisdom and reflections on suffering.

    -a fellow broken-hearted follower of the One

    At 7:53 AM, Anonymous said…
    God doesn’t waste any pain or suffering. He always brings good from it and even when you share it with others (though it hurts immensely) He is bringing about even more good through it (like encouraging others who are hurting to keep going). Thanks for being so honest in expressing your sufferings- I’m truly grateful for it and have been blessed by it more than I could say.

    At 5:49 PM, Samantha said…
    Natalie,
    First of all, I want to thank you so very much for sharing your heart with us and some of what you’ve been through. It’s incredibly encouraging to me to know that I’m not alone. 2005 and 2006 were incredibly difficult for me- mostly Emotionally, and Spiritually but also somewhat Mentally. I went through some very big trials with relationships and communications. It would take all day to write and talk about them so I won’t. But I feel I can understand a little of what you are talking about here. And I don’t think it’s a waste of time at all for you to share your journey with us. “It’s not about me anyway. It’s about healing.”
    Amen!!!
    I have been through a lot of things that people would look down on me for but I don’t see it as they do. I have learned so much from walking in the valleys of my life and my life has changed for the better; I’ve changed for the better because of those valleys. The way I see it… if it has brought me closer to my Heavenly Father and made me a better person, then all the suffering and struggling is/was worth it. And I rejoice in that fact! It can be very frightening and ugly and the time but looking back, I see where God was weaving HIS plans in my life and why I had to travel down those paths.

    Like

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