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In the Midst of the Storm

I’ve written before that my life motto and the theme for this blog is “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I try to write about hope but I don’t make false promises. My version of “self-help” is not tell you how to get out of the storm, it’s to encourage you to cope within the storm.

I walk a fine line with my writing because I write from the storm. Sometimes I’m dancing and sometimes I’m hunkered down. I find myself wanting desperately for the storm to pass but when it doesn’t, I'm left with trying to find a way to not give up. Yes, I get discouraged, and yes, I pray for the end but I keep on going. I truly believe it is the hope that gets us through not the absence of the storm.

I’ve written before about the depression I struggle with and my stomach condition that has been challenging. I have other struggles I choose not to share but each struggle -- each storm -- has left me wet and weak and challenged and triumphant. I’ve cried and screamed and bargained and pouted. I’ve waited for God to end the storm only to find another one right behind it. I’ve described my life as a giant Lifetime Movie because that is what it is: one crisis after another.

This last weekend I faced one of my strongest storms. Instead of a depression that leaves me alone in despair I was sucked into psychosis, an alternate world where all reasoning left me. The voices that frequently plague me gained a name: Satan.

For those of you who are non-believers that has the scariness of Freddy Krueger or Jason from “Halloween” – a made up boogeyman meant to scare children, nothing to be afraid of. I ask you to imagine you are a child -- young enough to believe in the boogeyman -- and that you have to face that boogeyman alone, coming after you, laughing at your screams. For me it was ten times worse – a million times worse -- because Satan is the antithesis of everything I believe in, my worst fears realized.

Here’s where I need you to truly imagine this because this is what trips everyone up. When an adult looks at a scary movie they rationalize the fear away. It’s not scary because it’s made up. It’s not scary because that would never happen. It’s not scary because I’m safe and secure. Now, imagine that you do not have the ability to rationalize. You can’t say it’s made up because your “senses” are telling you it’s real. You can’t say it would never happen because it is happening to you, right now. You cannot say you are safe and secure because you are in a living nightmare that feels completely unsafe and totally out of control.

As a Christian, we’re taught to pray to God in the midst of our fears but locked in a nightmare my prayers were drowned out by “Satan’s” voice condemning me to hell. The scriptures I’ve memorized were laughed away by “Satan” consuming my mind. That was the nightmare I lived this past weekend until the medication calmed me down. So, where was the dancing? Well, it’s the difference between a storm and a hurricane. Anyone dancing in a hurricane is likely a fool. At those times, you need shelter and safety. I’m not defining your hurricane nor am I telling you where your shelter is. All I’m trying to do is remind you that while the storm may last, the storm is not the focus.

How are you doing in your storm? Is it a hurricane? A downpour? Has it dwindled to an annoying drizzle? I encourage you to have hope regardless of your storms. My hope came in my spouse helping me call the doctor, the doctor guiding me to the dosage of medication I needed, my friends, family and church members praying for me. I’m bruised and battered from my hurricane and honestly, I’m not ready to dance yet, but I will. Maybe not yet but I will. Wherever you are, don’t give up. Take heart. Take shelter if you need to but when you can, get out those dancing shoes! I’ll be joining you soon!

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