I never really "got" the idea of choosing a word for the year. I actually thought of it as kind of an easier version of making New Year's resolutions; after all, you just had to pick one word and do... well, I didn't really know what you were supposed to do with it. Let it seep into your subconscious mind, perhaps?
I chose one last year, and promptly forgot all about it. I can't tell you what it is now, because I don't remember. Obviously, it didn't have much of an impact. Last month, my friend Teri started a discussion about choosing a word for 2013 - what word, why that particular word, what the impact of that word might be if you kept your vision centered upon it for the year. That made me start thinking, and led me to choose a word for the year. More than that, it led me to try to see how that word might make a difference in my life.
I don't know how many of my readers are aware of this, but I have struggled with depression my whole life. Finally, about 12 years ago, I started taking medication for it. The meds made a huge difference, but they didn't make the depression go away entirely. Every once in a while, especially during the winter months, a black curtain seems to close around me, and my life is miserable. I am angry and tearful and hurting more than anyone who has not experienced depression can imagine. It's a physical, emotional, spiritual pain that is wearying and debilitating and makes me a hard person to be around - even for me.
When Christmas came and passed this year without the dark curtain making an appearance, I thought I had dodged a bullet. That got me to thinking about choosing a word, and making it one that might help me to deal with my depression. The word I chose was "positive". I liked it's synonyms - "certain, clear, assured".
I wanted to BE more positive in my attitudes and my emotions. I wanted to make positive changes in my life in terms of health and my relationship with God. Just choosing the word filled me with joy and anticipation for the changes I was sure were coming.
Then, I think Satan became aware of my word. Yes, I actually think that. He didn't much like it - I think he celebrates my black moods and uses them to whisper ugly things into my ear, knowing that I am especially receptive during these times. He whispers things like "Your family doesn't love you. Why would they? Look at how weepy and weak you are - who on Earth could love you?" Satan laughed at my desire to be positive and slammed me hard into a wall of depression - face first. It happened on New Year's Eve - a night I thought would be devoted to celebrating all of the wonderful things the coming year would bring. Instead, it brought a meltdown that started with me snapping at the two people I love most in the world and ended with me crying helplessly and spending the next day in bed with a misery hangover while my husband and daughter tiptoed around trying to avoid my less-than-desirable company.
It's not easy for me to confess this to you. It paints a pretty ugly picture of me. There is one thing I can say for myself, and that is this - I don't shy away from the truth. I think that no matter how unappealing it is, there is always something to be learned from it. Always. You just have to seek until you find it. And by my sharing of my own ugly truth, maybe someone else will learn something.
So, there I was on the evening of New Year's Day, sitting as I so often do, in front of my computer. (Are there way too many commas in that sentence?) I did something that is not easy for me to do; something I do not like to do. I asked for help. I told my online group of girlfriends (my Homegirls) what was happening, and asked them to pray for me. Then, I humbled myself and prayed tearfully to God to help me. After that, I went to my husband and confessed how much I hated feeling this way, and asking him to pray for me as well.
And then... a miracle happened. Almost as soon as I had finished praying and asking for prayer, the dark curtain started to lift. This has never happened so quickly before. It generally takes days for me to feel any relief, but not this time. I know that God loosed Satan's hold on my emotions and freed me. I know this. A revelation came to me. I had never contemplated the idea that there was anything I could do to lessen these dark moods, and now I knew that there was an answer. Prayer was the answer. Asking for help and prayer was the answer. Confessing my unhappiness to my husband was the answer. Positive action was the answer.
Now I am convinced, even convicted that there is power in words. That conviction has led me to search for more insight and enlightenment in my daily Bible reading. I found some this morning in Genesis:
8 "But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down,4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible."
Okay... not only was Noah stuck on that ark with all of those animals and his kids and their spouses for forty days and forty nights while it rained, but after it stopped it was another ten months before the waters receded enough for the mountaintops to become visible and longer still until Noah could actually walk on land again. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been to be confined for that long? Imagine your house full of ALL of your extended family and all of their pets and then toss in a small zoo. Now imagine you can't leave there for a year. Crazy much? Depressed much? And you are one of the lucky ones who didn't die in the flood.
Perhaps my depression is like the rain and the flood waters. It traps me for a time. The nugget of gold I take from this is that the waters do recede. Although I might endure suffering for a time, it will pass. I will step out of the darkness and into the light again. And while I am in the darkness, God is with me, and so are the mighty prayer warriors I call my friends and family. I am not alone. Neither are you.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24 - 6:26