It’s been almost two years ago now that I sat in my counselor’s office sobbing uncontrollably. She looked across the empty space between us and simply asked, “Do you have hope?” I shook my head no. I have no idea what she said after that. It’s hard to hear anything when you are in a pit of despair and a storm is raging.
With some reservations I want share something with you. I suffer from OCD. Not the funny “haha I like everything in it’s place” OCD. I suffer from crippling Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I hear people joke all the time about their “OCD kicking in”; however for those who truly struggle with this disorder, it is not a joke.
Only those who are really close to me know how soul-crushing this disorder is for me and my family. Stress activates my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. As a child even though I was aware that something was wrong, I was able to hide my symptoms until my college years…you know how stressful those years can be. That is when I started getting help, but it has taken me over 15 years to truly learn how to recognize my triggers and to regulate my stress level. As long as my stress level is kept to a minimum, I can manage my symptoms with medication and counseling.
Two years ago after being stay-at-home-mom for six years, I went back to work part-time. I taught some amazing students, and I loved it….Until I crashed. The best way to describe it is that we all have filters for the stress we have in our lives. For some the holes in their filters are wide enough that stress is able to wash right through. My filter is more like a flour sieve. If the flour gets wet the sieve doesn’t work. It just becomes a gooey mess. You get just the slightest amount of stress mixed in nothing will come through those tiny holes. (And it doesn’t help that I had a stroke when I was eight-years-old. I have since learned that people who have my type of stroke often deal with depression and anxiety….but that is another story for another day.)
So I crashed hard. The obsessive thoughts were so relentless I could hardly function. There were days I couldn’t get out of bed. Other days I could barely make it until 5:00 when my sweet husband would get home from work to take over.
So I went dark. No blogging. No large gatherings. I slowly stripped away all these extras in my life. A friend of mine likened it to decorating a room. It is called “quieting” a room. You have to remove everything from the room, and then item by item add back what is really important and truly brings beauty.
I have been going through a process of “quieting” my life. I have spent the last 18 months working hard on myself and searching for the beauty in The Small Life. I have been going to counseling, praying, learning to meditate, exercising, eating right, taking care of my family, and cultivating meaningful friendships with a few instead of being a shallow friend to everyone.
The circumstances that led me to the pit of despair might be different than your own, but in all likelihood you have been there too. If you haven’t, you will someday. Life is that way. No one has enough reserve within themselves to go full speed forever. You will crash. And when you do, The Father will throw you a rope.
Actually that rope is always there, you just have to look for it.
When we reach the end of ourselves, we have nothing to cling to… Except when we reach out in hope and grasp ahold of that rope.
In her book The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, Ann Voskamp takes a look at the genealogy of Christ during a month long Advent series. The eleventh day of the series is titled “A Scarlet Lifeline of Hope”. That chapter examines the story of Rahab, a prostitute who through faith became a Jewish Princess. You can find her whole story in the book of Joshua.
Rahab saved the lives of two Hebrew spies and in return begged for salvation for herself and her family. The Hebrew spies told her when their army returned to destroy her city, she was to hang a scarlet rope out her window as a symbol to the soldiers. They would pass over her home and her family would be spared.
Voskamp reflects upon this story by writing:
“No situation is more hopeless than your Savior is graceful. That scarlet cord Rahab threw out that window? In Hebrew, that cord is tikvah. The same word in Hebrew that means “hope”.
So no matter what storm is raging in the world around you or within you, you can always have hope by staying tethered to The Father.
“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God …” Hebrews 6:18-19 MSG
Once we grab ahold with the last reserve of our energy we become anchored to The Truth…To Him Who Shelters Us in our darkest moments…To Him Who Gives Us Peace amidst the storm.
Sweet sister, I don’t know what you have going on in your life, but The King Most High is standing beside you. No matter how violent the waves of chaos may be, He will keep your head above the water and cup your tender face. He will sing over you songs of peace and salvation. You just have to be willing to take ahold of the tikvah. And hope is no longer a wish but a lifeline.