When I bought my first home, I was thrilled. After two years spent shopping for a house and a few deals gone awry, it was finally clear God had saved something much greater for me than I could have ever imagined. I was overwhelmed with the attention to detail that went into this blessing.
The house seemed perfectly made for me, and I was truly thankful.
So why was I finding it so difficult to get this house set up and moved into? Cleaning needed to be done, boxes needed to be unpacked, and I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning, much less meet my own standard for completing my to-do list.
I was at the very tail end of a crumbling marriage, struggling with relentless depression, and trying to suppress my angst over both of those issues as I feebly attempted to be a productive member of the workforce so as not to lose my sole source of income.
I felt inadequate.
I had also adopted four animals that year, which brought me to a grand total of five house-dwelling fur kids—enough for a small petting zoo. The crew included my faithful seven-year-old sheltie, two cats and two house rabbits. Yes, I said house rabbits. Litter-trained cottontails that were allowed to bounce freely around my home.
Clearly I was trying to compensate for what was missing in my life.
And with the end of my marriage, I was the only one left to meet their needs for love, attention and daily care. Those little critters had the nerve to expect me to provide them with consistent care as though nothing in my life had changed. As far as I could tell, at 27 years of age, I was already succeeding at failing miserably in every area of my life.
My beautiful 1920s bungalow had stacks of dishes piled in the sink and overflowing onto the counters. Between my pet bunnies and a never-ending supply of dust bunnies, I had my own warren.
The guest bedroom was the catchall for things yet to be dealt with. There were boxes of giveaway items, boxes of Christmas decorations, and my least favorite of all—box after box of papers to be sorted, some containing mail that hadn’t even been opened yet. As if I didn’t find those to be quite enough boxes, there were also three litter boxes and the accompanying stench to serve as an unpleasant reminder of yet another thing I hadn’t been attending to.
I could go on, but surely that paints the picture of the complete disarray that surrounded me. Just thinking about where to begin drained me of my already depleted energy. I wanted nothing more than to curl up in my bed, pull the covers over my head and sleep for at least a year—maybe more.
Surely you’ve been weary and overwhelmed at one time or another. Maybe that is where you are right now. If so, my heart aches for you just thinking about the discouragement you must feel. Believe me, I am not writing this from the stance of someone who has figured it all out. Actually, one of the most freeing discoveries for me in the midst of all my own chaos was not only realizing I didn’t have it figured out, but realizing Christ did not expect me to. What a relief!
Instead of staying stuck where I was, I invited God to come in and clean my house. And He started by shattering the lies and replacing them with His truth.
- Be honest with myself. Denying and minimizing my depression was not working in my favor. I was setting goals that would have been achievable in a healthier state and completely discounting the reality of where I was. After going around that mountain once too many times, I was exhausted. It became clear I was only making things worse. I finally decided to show myself some grace and began to set goals based on where I was actually at, not where I thought I should be. Things that seem like a natural part of life, like getting out of bed and eating at least three meals a day, had to be set as conscious goals for myself. I became very grateful when I was able to do the simple things I had once taken for granted.
- Be honest with God. I was very frustrated with all of the situations. Eventually, I was honest with God. I was angry with myself, angry with Him and feeling guilty about it all. I was also honest about my neediness. Depression made me aware of my neediness. I despised that part of me. But the neediness is what drew me toward God and allowed me to grow closer to Him than I ever had been able to before. Some days, I was so weary I would silently pray through each step I took. Being honest with God was how I drew near to Him during that time. And He definitely met me there.
- Be okay with people seeing my imperfections. There were people ready and willing to help me during this time, but I had to be willing to put aside my pride and let them see what a mess I was. This involved letting people see my messy home and letting them help me get it back in order. It also involved speaking vulnerably with trusted friends about the messy stuff I was dealing with in my heart, instead of brushing off their concern or pretending I had it together.
I am never going to arrive at perfection on this side of Heaven, and that’s okay. But in my circumstances, I discovered some tidbits that put things into perspective for me. I may have been still surrounded by the same mess, but in the midst of it all, I was finally able to experience peace.