Before my life fell apart — quite publicly — several people have told me they used to think my life was perfect. (Excuse me while I go grab a tissue. I just snotted on myself.) Friends, no one’s life is perfect. We are all broken and in need of healing, just some more than others. If nothing bad has happened to you yet, you’re not old enough!
In the aftermath of the Dark Night of the Soul, I was in desperate need of healing. All of us were. There was an inescapable void in my heart that told me God didn’t love me, that He had abandoned me in my darkest hour. I felt He had moved to Kansas and left no forwarding address.
Rock bottom hit in the wee hours of the night in August 2006. Somehow I thought it all depended on me, and if everything was going to turn out right, I had to be the one to make it happen. If someone had told me, “Dee, if you eat this shoe, God will fix it,” I swear to you, I would’ve eaten that shoe, Dr. Scholl’s inserts and all. I had looked under every rock, searching for help, and there were finally no rocks left to turn over.
My daddy’s funeral had been the week before, and I was simply exhausted — mentally, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and physically. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I needed to rest. To this day, I’m not really sure why, but it seemed to me the best thing to do was to check myself into the mental hospital.
I don’t remember much about the assessment process except this one question:
“Do you want to kill yourself?”
“Nope. But I wouldn’t move out of the way if a truck was about to run over me.”
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!
Apparently, that answer will get you three days in the nervous hospital!
The only other thing I recall is being told I couldn’t keep the string I was using to keep my shorts up. I weighed 90 lbs, and that string was the only thing standing in the way between me and a citation for indecent exposure. I guess they were afraid I’d hurt myself with that string.
Here’s my string. Now please just give me a place to lay down for a while.
Not one circumstance had changed when I walked back out the door. I was faced with the stark realization that instant healing of this big mess wasn’t going to happen. If things were going to get better, it was going to be a slow, and probably continued uphill journey. One day at a time was my only choice.
I now know what caused me to hit rock bottom. Turns out:
I wasn’t all powerful.
I couldn’t do everything like I thought I could.
I wasn’t the Holy Spirit.
I couldn’t fix people, or apparently even help them.
There was a God, and it wasn’t me.
And worse yet, I couldn’t force that God to do my bidding.
Hello, Rock Bottom. Nice to meet you. I’ll be hanging out here for a while.
When you’re at the bottom, you have no place to go but up. It’s the reason I’m not one bit ashamed about the path it took to get me there. It no longer mattered how or why I was broken, just that I finally got to the place where God could fix me.
I’m a huge proponent of sitting under wise teaching. I’m careful about where I choose to be fed spiritually, and I’m grateful to have had the privilege of sitting under the anointed teaching of many godly men and women. One Sunday my pastor at the time, Allen Holmes, preached a sermon about John the Baptist that proved to be yet another turning point in my road to recovery.
John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, the one anointed to prepare the way for the Lord, the one who actually baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. Jesus was quite complimentary of him, saying there was “none greater.” How would you like for the Lord to say that about you? Highest compliment ever!
Yet somehow, John finds himself in prison. Not for doing anything bad, mind you. He wasn’t robbing the local 7/11, beating his wife, or texting while driving. He was in jail for doing what he was called and anointed to do by God.
John was confused. How do I know that? Because he sent a message to Jesus in Luke 7:18,
“Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
In other words, Did I get this all wrong? If You’re the One I’ve been preaching about, asking people to repent and follow You, how come I’m sitting in this jail cell? This can’t be what You meant to happen! Maybe I got this all mixed up . . .
Then came this sobering response:
21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
Jesus was doing a lot of miracles for a lot of other people. But He wasn’t coming to rescue John. Jesus’s question to his cousin John was, “Are you still going to believe if I don’t fix it the way you think I should? Will you still love Me? Will you hang on to My hand or will you fall away?”
We don’t know how John reacted to that report from his messengers. All we know is they beheaded John the Baptist. Rescue didn’t come for him this side of Heaven.
Allen asked us the same question that fateful morning, was I going to keep trusting God? I knew I had a choice to make. I could be angry and walk away from all I believed to be true, or I could hang on, knowing I may never get out of this prison cell.
So I straightened my back, pulled up my bootstraps, and said, “Lord, I still believe.“
Some people receive an immediate rescue, but none ever came for me. Maybe God knew I wouldn’t change if He fixed it like I begged Him to, and Lord knows I needed to change. I don’t know why it took years, and I no longer care. I’m just thankful He DID rescue me from that prison cell. And I’m even more thankful that if He hadn’t, if He’d left me there, I made the choice that day to hang on to His hand, come what may.
My story wasn’t finished, and neither is yours. Get up, dear friend, keep walking, throw your shoulders back and say, “Lord I still believe.” As my sister always says, put on your big girl panties. You got this.