Two years ago, while everyone was sipping their pumpkin spice lattes and taking pictures in pumpkin patches, I was at home sinking into a deep depression following a surgery that didn’t go as planned. What was supposed to be a routine operation left me sick beyond belief, resulting in an anxious and fearful heart. Many of you may even remember that I took a step back from ministry and work for a month to rest, recover, and be restored by the Lord. Looking back, I can see more clearly that God had a purpose in the pain, but even in knowing that, I can honestly say that October was the hardest of my life.
I still remember the ache of loneliness and the pangs of doubt that overshadowed my heart, squelching my joy and crushing my hope. As the leaves began to die and fall from their source of life, it felt like I was dying on the inside, too. If you’ve ever walked through a season of anxiety and depression, you know exactly what I mean. Anxiety is different from worry. I’ve always been a worrier. Little problems have tried to steal my focus and consume my mind for the better part of my life.
Dying to Live
As a recovering perfectionist, this is an area of my heart that I constantly submit before the Lord. Anxiety goes a step further than worry does, because it takes over the body. The trauma I walked through in surgery, and an illness prior to the surgery, left my mind, heart, and body in a state it had never experienced. I was uncertain I would ever fully recover and be myself again. Friends and family drew near and spoke life into my weary soul. I cried like I’ve never cried out to the Lord before, and in my lowest moments, I felt the profound nearness of God. I learned that death doesn’t always have to be a dark, depressing thing. Sometimes in order to know God most fully, we must experience death in this life.
Death of pride.
Death of a dream.
Death of self-sufficiency.
Death of plans, ambitions, and goals.
In Christ, we die in order to live. (Luke 9:23–24; Philippians 1:21) That’s the parodox of the Kingdom of God. That fall, when I felt like I was dying physically, emotionally, and spiritually, God made new life springing up in those dark places. When I felt like my life would unravel at the seams and never be put together again, His grace held me together. By the sheer mercy of God, in our hardest seasons of life we can learn to die beautifully like the trees of autumn in order to live joyfully.