Remembering the Dark Times

Trying to Move On

I used to see the dark times as something to forget. I wanted to pretend they had never happened. My struggles and failures, the moments of intense loneliness, fear, and confusion––I just wanted to put all that behind me.

The point was to overcome. The point was to move forward.

But in the midst of recent uncertainties in my life, remembering my past struggles, failures, and moments of intense loneliness, fear, and confusion is what has brought me true comfort. Those memories have been one of the few things that have been able to reach down deep enough to bring me peace.

Because in my darkest moments, God was there.

The Pit

When I was younger, I often envisioned Jesus sitting beside me in a pit. I think I imagined a pit because the psalms mention being in a pit a lot, and the psalms is where I turned for comfort when I was too depressed, scared, or overwhelmed with loneliness to sleep. Recently, God reminded me of the pit.

In the vision, I am sitting with my back against the steep wall of the pit, alone. No way out. I’ve given up trying to escape or figure out what it means. But when I open my eyes from crying, I see Jesus is sitting there next to me. He is calm, relaxed. Not in a rush to go anywhere. He isn’t instructing me, or saying anything at all. He is simply there.

And that changes everything.

Weakness

God spends a lot of time telling me how strong I am. You are bold, He has said when I felt meek. You are tenacious, He has said when I am on the verge of giving up. You’re like a little fireball, he says to inconspicuous, intimidated me. And I can feel His delight in me as I rise up in strength as His daughter, as a bold little girl who others continually underestimate.

But, God also teaches me to embrace weakness.

I expect God to despise my weakness, because He is so strong. I want to be like Him, to make Him proud by taking care of myself. But again and again, God reminds me that He never intended for me to take care of myself. I am nothing without Him. That will never change. Whenever I have the courage to admit how much I need Him, His love rushes in, and I realize that this was all God wanted all along––to be let in.

In my vulnerability, He is my Protector. When I am lost, He finds me. And to my weariness, He brings rest. In my helplessness God draws near and whispers, I love being with you.

In the Deep

In the times of deepest pain, we learn how deep God’s love goes. And we are made deeper in Him.

I used to tell myself that my past struggles weren’t me. I was joyful, hopeful, and strong, not sorrowful, doubting, or weak. I was victorious, not needy! To admit otherwise seemed like defeat. But we can be both: broken and victorious, needy and strong. In fact, that duality is one of the most beautiful mysteries of God’s work in us.

Freedom is certainly something to celebrate, and victory can be real in Christ. We can find wholeness that is truly miraculous. But to forget the dark times would be a mistake. And to think our suffering in this life is finished would be short-sighted.

I’m thankful now for the darkness, for the loneliness, for the fears I’ve wrestled with, for the pain I still carry––because they have made me who I am. The very things I’ve despised in myself, the very moments I’ve striven to forget, are what God has used to make me like Him. To show me the length of His patience, the reach of His power, and the depths of His love. They are what has brought me close to God. Because I needed God, and I cried out to Him, and He came to me.

God finds me when I spiral down to a dark place no one else could possibly reach. He finds me when I hide myself in a cave and shut everyone else out. He finds me when I slip down into a pit too steep to escape. And He carries me out.

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Elizabeth holds to simple faith in a complex world. She values the beauty of the everyday and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. She is currently pursuing her MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary, so when she isn't busy writing academic papers, she is usually out enjoying the LA sunshine. She is constantly learning, laughing, and finding herself in awe of grace.

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