Here I am again. It’s late. Dark. I’m not complaining, really I’m not. There’s something warm and inviting about the nighttime. It’s still. Quiet. I like the quiet, I think I always have. There’s not a single soul asking for my attention, so here I sit with my legs curled underneath myself and my feet being warmed by my furry little space heater, Fig. The cat.
When I’m left alone with my thoughts in the dead of night, something surprising happens. Involuntarily, my mind calls out to God, unloading the pain and worry from the day, reaching for grateful thoughts to pour out so that I can rest. On paper, that sounds more like precious quiet communion with God than it really is. Somewhere along the line, bedtime prayers became some kind of weird ritual where I force myself awake so that I can pat myself on the back for being so righteous. So tonight, when that all began, I got up. I opened my laptop. And here I am. Aren’t you lucky?
The older I get, and the more time as I spend as a parent, the more challenging life feels. On a good day, I find myself looking around wondering when the grownups are going to get here so I can go home and call my friends on a corded phone and talk all afternoon. On a bad day, I feel like I’m seconds from drowning. On my worst days, I feel like this:
“How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.” (Psalm 13:2-4)
Truth be told, I’ve been having a lot of those “worst days.” too many of the “turn and answer me, O Lord my God!” days. I think we all have seasons like this. Seasons where the nights feel too dark, and the winter feels too cold, and the house feels too messy and your jeans feel too tight.
As it turns out, I may have just been describing every January that ever existed. Ever.
But in all seriousness, life is hard, y’all. Like really hard. Like punch you in the stomach and spit in your face hard. Sometimes it feels like the moment I stand back up, panting and writhing a little bit, (because I’m not an ultimate fighting champion, obviously) life turns right around and kicks me square in the penalty box. And you know what? When it comes down to it, and life has dealt approximately 500 more hits than I thought I could stand, I really truly want to give up. I curl up in the fetal position, and I want. to. quit.
You know what the worst part about feeling this way is? I KNOW life is hard for other people. I know I’ve got things easy compared to pretty much 99% of the world, but it doesn’t feel that way. Gratitude is probably like the furthest thing from my mind when I start down this path. You know why? Because life is hard, and I want to wallow! “Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I WILL DIE!” (My emphasis added, but obviously that’s what David was saying. I mean, Saul was trying to kill him, after all.)
So tonight, in my dark, quiet living room, I’m making a radical (for me) move to do something different. Because as tantalizing as wallowing may be, I cannot believe, even for a moment, that despair is where God intends for us to live out our lives. Tonight, I’m making the conscious decision to lay down the things that hurt my heart at the feet of Jesus and rest. He said I could, so maybe tonight I’ll take him up on it. And when I walk away, I hope to walk away with only one thing.