The clock tells me it is nearly 12:30 am. I've been sitting here trying to find a beginning place for this post for...a while. It seems that posting has been extremely difficult for several months. I have tried. I have started untold number of posts only to close Blogger without posting anything. Two posts actually went public before I deleted them. Mostly, though, I sit here at the keyboard and wonder what to say that isn't continually depressing and is worth your time to read. Often, I find nothing.
That is not to say my life has been utterly depressing this whole time. It hasn't. However, I will tell you honestly the last eight months make up one of the hardest times of my life. Sometimes finding words to convey the reality of life is simply impossible. There are facts that cannot be shared for various reasons, and there are emotions that words cannot begin to express. When that happens, what is there to communicate?
The fact is that for much of the last eight months I have hurt more completely than I ever thought I could. I have amazing friends who are ready to answer a phone any time of day or night, but it seems pointless to call when all you can say is, "I hurt." There were times I lay on my couch or my bed, and my body shook with my sobs. I had no words to even pray. I simply cried until numbness took over, and then I would lie there staring at nothing. I didn't think God had abandoned me. I didn't feel forsaken. I simply had no way to verbalize the pain or address the cause of the pain. So I just was.
When I could talk to my friends, I would tell them without doubt that God's promises are solid. He never lies, and in the end, joy and restoration would abound. However, I wasn't at the end. I was in the desert, and the desert is a hard place that humbles you. It leaves you on your knees, desperate, gasping. "In the future things would be great, but right now, I hurt so much I feel like I can't breathe."
Thankfully, my friends weren't like Job's. My friends are more like Jesus. They prayed with me, for me. They gave me funny cards, encouraging emails, Kleenex. They kept reminding me that the fire might be hell but I wasn't alone. They never doubted the promises either. No matter how things looked or what twists came, they never doubted the promises that God would fully redeem, fully heal, and fully restore.
When I got tired of the battle, they stepped in and battled for me. I would call or email, and instead of being bogged down with me, they would pray right then and there. I'd get prayers via email and over the phone. Sometimes I would get emails letting me know they prayed and the Lord gave them verses or revelation. Often, it was the verses or encouraging word the Lord had given me. They were in agreement with the Lord, and when two or more agree, whatever they ask for is theirs. I listened to some of the prayers or read some of the emails, and I thought, "I'm glad you're on my side."
I know I must have repeated myself a hundred times or more. It felt like it, but they never fussed. They listened, let me pour out my heart, treated it tenderly. One of the things they did that opened the door for me to talk to them is that they knew when not to talk. They had no answers. There were no answers, and they didn't try to offer any. Instead, they had compassion and the wisdom to not not offer cliches or empty advice. Sometimes they would simply say, "I am so sorry this is happening. I love you."
One of the things I marvelled at through out the last few months is the ability of those I hold so close to allow me distance. The desert has so many facets to it. It's a place where survival is foremost on one's mind, and most of the time, it is utterly miserable. One of the things I have learned about survival is without God, I won't survive, so when I go into the desert, I try to make my focus God. I try to spend quiet time multiple times a day. I journal. I read the Word. I pray. I allow my body and mind to rest. For nearly a month, I took a nap every day just to be mentally and emotionally at my best.
When I "hunker down" like that, there isn't much time for email, Facebook, phones, or outside people. They are good support, but God is the only way through or out. And really, even the most amazing friends--and I have fabulous ones--can only be with you from a distance, but God is with you wholly. He is with you and in you. He understands what you can't put into words. He knows exactly what you need, and He is totally committed to getting you through the desert to a better place.
Thankfully, when the contact lessened, the commitment from my friends didn't. They gave me space to "hunker down" and God space to walk with me and to work in me. I'm sure more consistent updates--or updates at all--would have been appreciated, but they never claimed. They never pressured. They simply sent notes or left voicemail letting me know they were available when I needed them.
And I did need them. I still need them. They are my cheerleaders, my prayer warriors, the ones who hold up my hands when I'm weary, the ones who jerk me up by the collar and tell me I can do this, the ones who feed my heart and tend my spirit. They are the ones who know a well-timed, "I love you," can turn the battle. They also know silence is sometimes the best answer. And i know they are for me, with me.
They are my friends, and Job's friends who could have learned a lot from them.