I recently made a silly decision to be interviewed by a magazine. I didn’t think twice when I said yes to being interviewed about growing up as a pastor’s child. It’s been my identity for thirty-seven years, and I’m fairly intimate with the nuances of it. And it’s something I’ve talked and written about at length. So, no big deal, right?
Oh. So. Wrong.
I sat on the phone with this lovely, polite lady writer, and I looked down at my hands as they shook against the table while I answered each question. For lack of a better description, it stirred me up. It brought back feelings and memories that had settled down to the bottom of my soul. And it actually took me several days to get my emotional equilibrium back.
Reflecting on the interview and my reaction to it, I thought about how many years I had spent allowing my pain and depression to isolate me through thoughts that I was different, that I was an anomaly, and that there was something innately wrong with me. I had thought I’d overcome those patterns of thinking… I mean, I’ve been in therapy and on medication for well over a year now. I’m fixed, right? (Please note the sarcasm.)
And as I was recovering from this shaken, isolated place of painful memories and uncomfortable feelings, I stepped into Chapter 12 of Fight Back With Joy by Margaret Feinberg. And what I learned was that I’m not alone.
”Hardships have a way of making us wonder if God has gone silent or abandoned us. We may be tempted to misinterpret circumstances as a sign of God shoving us away or strain to understand why God didn’t intervene to stop the calamity. We may feel alone. But we’re not.” (ebook location 1840-44)
And then, because I’m stubborn and sometimes need multiple examples during any given lesson, God nudged me to open an email that had sat unopened in my email inbox for thirteen months. And what I found was this video clip.
Now, I know that some readers either don’t have 6.5 minutes to invest into the video clip, or else you’ll be too eager to finish my blog post to click it. So, let me sum up what I learned from Melissa’s story in the clip…
When an instrument like a piano or a guitar has no tension on its strings, it either makes no sound or it makes bad sound. We must trust God to tighten our strings and tune us. He knows just the tension we require and how far He can stretch us before the strings break.
And as a musician whose heartstrings are being stretched, I couldn’t help but think of the hymn I grew up singing:
“Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Calls for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it –
Mount of Thy redeeming love.”
CS Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: ‘What! You, too?’” And in Margaret’s book and Melissa’s story (seriously, go click the link!) I found others who had felt the isolation, fear, and distance from God that I had felt, but who had also found their way to the other side. And along the way, they had found that they weren’t alone. They found the friend who sticks closer than a brother. They found God in the desert. And in finding Him, they found their joy.
Can you identify with me, Margaret, and Melissa? Have you felt alone in your fear, pain, and sadness? Then let me (us) encourage you – you’re not alone.
This post is part of a weekly book discussion on Margaret Feinberg’s book, “Fight Back With Joy.” You don’t have to read the book to chat. But if you have written a response to this week’s chapter, link it up at the widget below before you run over and check out the post at my co-facilitator, Jason’s place.
Next week, we will discuss the “bonus tracks” in one fell swoop. (If you’re reading along, you’ll know what that means.)
And seriously… Go click the link and listen to Melissa’s story!