Sometimes I land in a day or a week or – God forbid – a month that can only be described as The Dumps. I’m never sure exactly what causes it, but it’s usually a perfect storm of weariness and worry which leads to other, uglier things like doubt and anger and snappish, stinging words at the family I love (sorry, family I love.)
So, I’ve been lingering around the edges of the ditch for a few days. I’ve been casting longing glances at it’s depths, thinking it might be pleasant to just jump in for awhile and splash around in my own discouragement and Poor Bo-ness. I know in my head that’s a stupid idea, but the temptation is still there. I secretly sort of love the allure of the The Dumps.
Yesterday, circumstances conspired to push me in. They are dumb circumstances and not worth re-telling. They wouldn’t make sense even if I did talk about them because they are all just small rocks in a big bucket that suddenly felt too heavy to carry. In the interest of helpful disclosure, however, I will tell you the final straw – and this is embarrassing and frustrating to admit – was reading about a friend’s success. Ech. See? I told you this was ugly. But, true story: I read about her happy success and how her dreams for the future are coming true and I felt punched in the stomach by God. I don’t even want to succeed at the thing my friend is succeeding at…it’s not that I want her life. But I do want a future that is established and hopeful and not filled with the demands of a relentlessly devastating disease. The bottom line is: I want what I want what I want what I want. That’s who I am. And apparently, I’m also the kind of girl who would resent a friend who has what appears to be a bump-free road (I know it’s not true – it’s just what I see when I’m standing with one foot in the ditch.)
This morning I woke up desperate for God. For encouragement. For Hope. I ran to the refuge of the Word because it’s all I know to do. I longed for a verse to lift itself off the page like medicine and pour itself into my heart. I wanted to have joy back, to know that God was on my side, to reengage with the greatness of His plan for my sometimes-sad life. Amazingly, one verse did exactly that. And it was in NO way the verse I was hoping for:
No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit, who sealed you for the day of redemption. All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. Ephesians 4:29-31
It wasn’t encouraging at first. It was sort of shocking and How Dare You Correct Me While I’m One Small Rock Short of Dropping This Bucket? But as the truth sank in, I felt the calming courage of the Holy Spirit to take it as the gift that it is: freedom. My life exists to give grace to all who hear. When I let discouragement win the day, it also wins my words and traps me in a prison of my own making. When I set my thoughts at His altitude, my words are agents of health and wholeness to those who hear and who hears my words first? Me. I hear them first in my head and then I decide whether or not they come out of my mouth, but they are my words and they are constantly at work in my life either for the building or breaking of my own heart.
I don’t want to over-preach this verse. I just want to say that I am discovering that sometimes correction is exactly the comfort we need. Because after taking this little shot of medicine this morning, I feel about a million percent better about my life and unreservedly joyful for my friend’s big win as well.
If you feel a magnetic attraction to The Dumps today, take heart. He is with you and for you and can give you what you need to stay firmly planted in the land of Hope.