12/07/2013

Soul Purge of the Mind

I was the plunder. Two opposing forces were fighting over me and I was being pulled and torn in their tug-of-war. It was all I could do to stand my ground and not be destroyed in the process. This battle inside my mind felt like it was far more than just a rough pregnant morning. It was me teetering on the edges of sanity, gazing bleary-eyed over the precipice considering all the dreadful possibilities.

During those times every emotion and every perception is bleak. I was bobbing there on the open sea without a star to guide me, sinking in and out of massive, rolling waves. Each wall of black ocean that came toward me was enough to drag me down into death. It's a surprise and a wonder every time I come out the other side, choking and gasping for air. The pain in my heart was real and the lies in my head got louder and more dangerous. It was all I could to to lay back and surrender to the fantasy of being rescued from the pain. I knew my Prince would come for me but I didn't know how or when.

The battle came on a Sunday morning, and it was a relatively normal, and stressful Sunday. My temper began heating up with minor infractions from the children. Getting ready for church wasn't fast enough, breakfast wasn't clean enough, this thing was in my way, that thing reminded me of how hard my life was. The fuse was burning steadily toward the TNT. Finally my three-year-old, a lego toy, and a t-shirt got tangled up in my fingers. I grabbed the car, painstakingly made by little fingers, and flung it across the room where it exploded into pieces. Broken-hearted tears, my own deep rage at myself, and trauma was inevitable. I had to get out of there.

I cried all morning. In the shower, in the car, in the lobby, in the pew, in the lines to pick up the kids, I cried because I couldn't control it. No one was brave enough to approach me. I was unapproachable, on purpose. Why would I go to church in a state like that? Because I had to continue doing regular things; what had to be done. My war-torn mind was telling me to stay home, wallow in self-pity, let the television 'love' the children today, sleep, escape. But I couldn't surrender to the nothing of depression. My thoughts were a fire of irrationality with thick, black smoke preventing me from seeing light. I knew I had to take the kids to safety. I had to seek refuge from myself.

The sermon was all about finding God during crises. The story was the woman with the small amount of olive oil. All God needs is the smallest grain of hope. I see the once nameless princess in The Neverending Story cradling the last grain of sand from her world, Fantasia. That's all that's left. That's all God needs. From the mustard seed and the small bottle of olive oil He multiplies and overfills our containers, our hearts, our world.

I wanted to cry for hours and days. My belly shook with each sob. The baby inside kicked and shifted, completely oblivious. We got home and I was exhausted. I held my grain of Fantasia with a tight fist and crawled into bed for a nap where I put it under my pillow. The battle was winding down and I knew somehow that God would win and the storm would pass while I slept.

When I woke up, my mind was quiet and calm, but desolate. The sea was still, but it was still dark and cold. The battlefield was empty of life, littered with bodies, carnage. Soon I would have to face my husband and speak coherent words. Who knows what to do with the aftermath of such a thing? I went through the motions until a single pinhole of light broke through the cloud cover. I barely noticed it until the slowly spreading warmth of God's presence surrounded me. He was in the face of my husband's unexpected and loving response. He showed up in the silence that rested between words and child noises. I could finally see it again: light!

It wouldn't be the last time I would be vulnerable to such deep emotional crisis. You can call it spiritual warfare, hormonal meltdown, or prenatal depression. I know it as a battlefield, the trenches, a darkness in my soul. God has shown me that it is necessary. It is a purging that can only happen under His precision-guided hand of mercy and grace. And there's no stopping it. I am able to postpone it at times until I can get away from other humans, though. The last two times it happened I got in my car and drove, cried, parked, screamed, and spewed the poison out where only God and the unseen realm could hear me. Each railing lunatic vent would ricochet off of the windshield and shock me into cascades of sobbing, like I couldn't believe the things I was saying to God. But He waits, silently, for every drop to be spilled. This broken heart I hold out to You God, this charred, calloused, and barely recognizable thing, is my offering. It's not even contrite, but a filthy pile of lies and delusion. And He pulls it all out of me, every remnant of it. The tears wet the pathway to His altar as the words reveal what sin and sickness has been lodged within.

I really believe we all need help getting the entirety of our sin out of us. Especially that deep sin that is in the marrow of our souls, caked on the very foundations of our minds. If we are truly honest with Him, He'll provide a place to cleanse our heart of those things. It may not look or feel like what I've just written. But I know that it must happen. Graciously, the pregnant environment of my mind has provided access to places I normally can keep God out of. I thought it was an attack from the enemy, and it may be that the wicked play a part in it. But God, Himself, is taking full advantage of my weakness in order to purge impurities from me that I wasn't aware existed. This dark night of the soul that, as a mother, I don't have the luxury to endure for weeks on end. He gets it done in a day, or a drive. As long as I don't struggle or try to avoid it, God uses it for a miracle.