It was a winter of my soul, that season. The kind where you look like yourself on the outside, but your inside is hollow. Obsidian.
Though I had never understood depression – I typically sidled obnoxious with a perpetual silver linings perspective – I was sad, marrow deep. Tormented, really, by circumstances beyond my control. Not a life and death thing or infidelity or financial ruin; and, thankfully, it had nothing to do with my kids. I hate to cloak it in mystery that way, but this is one of those stories not at liberty for public consumption. Not the details, anyway. They don’t really matter.
Thank the Lord, and I mean that, that time scatters memory; that a bunch of days between This and That can bring healing. But as the song goes, “my scars remind me that the past is real,” and I’ve learned time and again, invisible scars are the most painful. I can tell you it involved a dear friend and a story that didn’t make sense to me. I tried so hard to understand, to figure out the truth, but lines were drawn and sides were taken, and even my husband failed to understand my angst.
Why couldn’t I just get over it, forgive, and move on? Why couldn’t I, indeed? I wanted to, but letting go was like chasing mercury. It slipped out of my grasp the harder I tried.
I’d reach the breaking point eventually. We always do. I just happened to fall apart at church one day, and my pastor, a dear friend, happened to be the one to speak truth over me. Really, truly, he might as well have thrown cold water in my face—that’s how quickly I snapped out of it, my teary breakdown.
Gently, firmly, he explained that no matter what, I had to love and forgive; me figuring it all out mattered less than those things. He told me if I didn’t, this thing threatened to get in my marriage and cause trouble, and I knew it already had because my husband was losing patience with my hard-headed position.
It crushed me that I never could explain well enough for him to understand. It felt like he was against me, though I know now (and suspect I knew then) that that was only a lie of the enemy.
Never have I felt more alone.
Because I cared about the people involved, I couldn’t…I wouldn’t…share this story with others. It was mine to sift through, sort out, salvage. It’s another lie of the enemy to isolate you that way, to make you think you’re all alone, that NO ONE can understand, that everything you’re thinking is wrong and off base.
But then I am certain that the Lord arranged a Divine Appointment just for me in the parking lot of my church. I think it must have been raining because we ended up in her car. A friend who sensed something was up, and invited me to share.
She opened floodgates, words and snot and tears, my whole body a sob as everything poured out. She said something I’ve never forgotten, seven words that began a healing, a letting go, soul balm that made every difference:
You just need someone on your side.
She heard me. She didn’t judge my perspective or try to solve the problem. She just sat there in her car, listening, affirming me, loving me by sitting next to me. Being the one on my side.
The earth shifted.
And I know all the religious platitudes, that God is ever-present and that He’s for me; that I was never truly alone. I believed it then (the best I could), as I do now. But sometimes it sure feels like we’re all alone in the world. Sometimes we need a body, flesh and blood to hold our hand, hand us a tissue, let us spill tears and snot all over their car.
Sometimes the Ministry of Being On Her Side is the best and most hospitable thing you can offer the lonely.
I hope one day I’ll have the chance to go and do likewise.