Eventually, I pulled on those heavy doors and walked hesitantly into the church. Hearing women’s voices from an open door down the hall, I walked to the doorway and stood at an angle so I could see inside, making sure no one could see me. I was counting on the typical classroom arrangement, rows of tables, with people seated only on one side. Those seating arrangements ensure a certain amount of anonymity and that’s what I was looking for.
But no, these tables were round. We all know what round tables mean; it’s like the poster child for “sharing” one’s thoughts and opinions, exactly what I wasn’t interested in doing. It was only because I knew how disappointed my husband would be if I allowed fear to win again that I nervously walked into that room. I was counting on the fact I could find a way to be invisible, which for the verbal person I am, is very hard indeed.
And, of course, all the “safe” tables in the back were taken by people who knew the same thing I did, that you are less apt to be asked your opinion if you’re in the back of the room. It’s hard to hide behind someone if there is no one in front of you. So there I was, having to take a seat at one of the front tables.
But knowing I would disappoint my husband if I didn’t go in and knowing he was right about conquering my fear of social settings, I stepped through the doorway.
I was friendly as I usually am and acting far more comfortable than I felt. If there had been any way I could’ve walked out without being noticed I would have.
The pastor’s wife gave some opening remarks. She was friendly and down-to-earth and I liked her. The video began and I became thoroughly engrossed in the message and quit thinking about myself for a while.
But as I listened, the words, “Write a book”, took up residence in my mind. “Hmmm, where did that come from?” I thought. The woman in the video said nothing to suggest that. “Write a book”, continued to disturb my concentration.
It’s important for you to understand that never in my life had I had the slightest urge to write a book about anything. I had been journaling on and off for years but so do a lot of people and God doesn’t necessarily tell them to write a book. To be honest, at first, I ignored God’s words and excused them as so much chatter in my mind, which if you knew me, you would certainly understand.
But the message continued to reverberate and as the evening wore on, the synergy between those three words, Write a book”, the words of our pastor’s wife, the content of the video and the table discussion seem to all confirm what I was hearing. I just couldn’t ignore it anymore; God was “speaking” to me. Even as I see these words on paper, I am dumbfounded that the God of the universe singled me out that night.
That week I started to write.
But God kept saying, “Write the book”, so I started another novel figuring I had taken a wrong turn. But eventually, the same words kept coming to my mind. Now I really was confused. (By the way, I hope I do get a chance to finish them because I was really enjoying writing them.)
Why was God still hammering this message when I was already writing? It just didn’t make sense. Didn’t he know I’d heard him? Couldn’t he see me writing? What was I missing?
Sometimes if we just wait a little while, God makes everything clear. I wish I could say my “aha” moment was exhilarating, but it wasn’t. It was terrifying, Up to this point, I had been excited about the prospect, however remote, of becoming an author. This was something else entirely. God clearly wanted me to write about my experience with depression.
It had been great fun writing a novel. Where else can you exhibit such control over people? At a stroke of my fingers, my “people” did what I wanted them to do, said what I wanted them to say. It was empowering to say the least. I could remain at a distance as I spun my tale and watch my characters move at my command. I felt like a master puppeteer. But this new direction was not nearly as appealing.
I knew I had the message right this time. The words came freely. It was absolutely no effort. Sometimes it seemed as though I had no conscious awareness at all of what I was writing until the words appeared before me on my computer. It was like my fingers were typing words independent of me.
Besides, writing on my computer, was safe.
But to write about the most difficult struggle in my life, to reveal myself to whatever stranger would pick up this book, to take the chance of being misunderstood or have my faith ridiculed, that part was terrifying. And fear has been my nemesis for as long as I can remember. Besides, I was still skirting around the edge of depression’s abyss at the time.
I started writing anyway, on envelopes, paper napkins, discarded junk mail, anything I could get my hands on. I wrote constantly and tucked away the bits and pieces of my thoughts like so many leftover pieces of fabric. Finally, I picked them all up and created a pattern for the book. It started to take form.
But I often wondered if I was just spinning my wheels. Other summers went by. I was soon leading a Bible study at my new church. The message from God never changed.
I began to wonder “What if my mountain (the mountain being depression) was being moved through my writing. Was writing my personal form of therapy? Was God so directing my fingers on the keyboard that what I was writing became a kind of blueprint that could help many? Not just my experiences and my own reflections but an actual formula others could use?
The more I wrote the further from the abyss I walked. I’ll never get how God works.
It wasn’t easy, my struggle defeating depression and anxiety. Even though God was moving the mountain, he required a lot of me in the process. This is pretty much how God has always worked, however.
When Jesus healed the man by the Bethseda pool, he didn’t just heal him and let him be. He required something of him and no excuses were accepted. Paraphrasing Henry Blackabee’s theme from his book, “Experiencing God”, I had to “join God in the activity he was already performing”. Did I already say how hard it was?
The journey to wholeness has been hard and it’s been long. At times my mountain moved with just a gentle tap. At other times I slammed my whole body into it and pushed with all my might to have it move nary an inch. But now, fifteen years later, there’s barren land where the mountain used to be, and God and I are building a temple for his glory on that very same spot.
Fear almost got the best of me that summer evening years ago. A lot happened after that. The book was put on hold for various reasons but I continued to read and research. The book was finally completed. In the meantime, I had started blogging and much of what I wrote ended up in some form or another on this blog.
Last year, I realized that the book needed to be constructed differently. It is now in a devotional format. I am now editing it and plan on creating the e-book soon.
Why has it taken me so long, you might well ask. I can tell you. There were experiences in my childhood that contributed greatly to my depression. Trauma as a young child causes great anxiety and even hardwires us to respond to perceived fear in the same way we responded as a child to real fear.
But I just could not publish a book that hurt the individuals involved in any way at all. Besides, it had all long been forgiven. Part of my healing from depression was directly connected to acknowledging my past while at the same time taking responsibility for my future. You can only use your past as an excuse for so long and after that, it just becomes an excuse.
My husband had no idea how his insistence that night was going to change my life. I don’t take victory over depression lightly for one minute nor assume I will never struggle again. This book is all about how with large doses of mercy and grace, God gave me the strength to get up from my despair and start to shove that mountain.
He gave me tools I use to this day. In fact, I used them just today.
Depression is a tenacious demon but demons can’t move mountains. Only our God can and only our God did.Rebecca Platt
What God did for me, he will do for everyone.
God bless and have a safe day.
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