Imagine this: just going for a walk in the late winter, when it feels more like spring. Blasting your worship music, maybe trying to run a little, because you told yourself today is the day you will start jogging every day. Whatever. It’s pretty nice out, just really slushy and wet. You’re feeling all powerful and athletic, like those people you pass on your way to buy a quart of ice cream, with their flashy sneakers and headbands and track suits. You’re running across a cross walk, graceful as a deer, wondering if the cars waiting are admiring your freedom, your poise – and then you drop your phone in the middle of the road. It just pops right out of your pocket and bounces on the ashphalt.
Well, I decided to climb out of my whole a few weeks ago and try to go…to the outside? Out of the portal? Outdoors, I think they call it? I was coming out of a huge, unprecedented depression wave. Basically dysphoria and SAD all at once, out of the blue, completely knocking the wind out of me. It was basically like a can of spinach for all the little mental health Popeye monsters in my head. Does this happen to you sometimes?
Anyway, I was finally able to leave the house for more than 30 minutes, and I decided I really wanted to go to the river. It feels far, but it’s only a couple of kilometres. But man, it was wet. At first I tried to avoid the slush and puddles, but by the end, I just gave up and decided the cold would help cool off my sweaty feet. Of course, I thought it would be freezing, because 15 degrees in the winter is a different beast than 15 degrees in the summer, when it’s not wet and windy. But no, I was boiling by the end, and trying to shove everything into my hoodie and tying my hoodie around my hips to keep my pants from falling down. The experience left much to be desired.
But I kept on, listening to my favorite worship songs (there are some bangers, in case you didn’t know – I’m actually almost starting to be impressed lately.) Splashing through this lovely slush. Lately I’ve been telling anyone who will listen how much I absolutely, completely, detest the spring. It’s the windiest, messiest, polliniest, useless season, and I can’t wait for it to be over. But on this day, I am just so happy to be outside.
Do you ever get that feeling? When something just seems to lift from you, or the barrier you had put up between you and God just goes away? When this happens to me, sometimes I’m just sobbing my eyes out, so sorry for the things I was trying to hide from him behind that clear barrier. But on this day, my heart was just so full of joy, and peace.
I found a quiet road just off the path from the river, with this weird little platform just in the middle of nowhere, almost in the grove of trees. And I just spent a few hours with God. Talking to him, going through my mental health first aid kit, and processing all that had happened when I was under the wave. Even though it’s been a long time since I’ve been under such a powerful wave, I still managed to do some positive things, like speak with my mentor. One thing she told me that really changed my life was the fact that even God, who is perfect, and created a perfect world, was abandoned and rejected. And I was like, “What…?” Cause like, I keep thinking it’s because there’s something wrong with me, that I’m undesirable and an awful person and just not friend or wife or mother material. But for real, even God in the garden of Eden, or Jesus living a perfect life, was faced with rejection and pain. And even worse than anything I have ever been through.
And God revealed to me, as I sat barefoot in the sun, letting my wet socks and shoes dry, that He feels the same way when I abandon him. I am angry, and sad, and disappointed, and hurt, and perplexed, and so is He, when I or any of his other children walk away from Him. For all that I am feeling, this righteous anger and sense of justice, how much more does He feel it? How can I insist that someone else should have been willing to stay and be a friend to me, a deeply flawed human, when I can’t even do it for a perfect God?
This revelation has opened up a whole new world of empath for me. Empathy for God. That’s not something I’ve ever thought of before, having empathy for God. But it really helps me to pour out empathy for others, because now I’m getting it from the source. Wow. Just wow.
Have you ever thought of that?
As I sat there, on this weird little platform thing, others were braving the huge puddles and mud and dirt mounds on this crappy little road, and hiking up the massive hill back up to the city. There were families, friends, and couples. One family, I saw when I was there, was what I always thought was the Kodak family: A mom and a dad, a boy and a girl, blond and wispy, hanging out together on a Sunday afternoon. For a long time, this was what I craved with a nearly unquenchable desire. These were the kinds of families I was seeing in my quaint little farm town. Obviously, I would never be blonde and wispy, but still I dreamed.
And for the first time, I didn’t feel that jealousy, that longing, that pain. I felt at peace, exactly where I was. Happy for the family, and glad that some children get to grow up like that (the ideal Kodak part, I mean who knows, really, what that family is really going through.) I felt happy, just me and God, knowing that there was no room in that moment for the peace that existed between us.
I just listened to nature. The peace of it. I could still hear the people, because this little road was not as secluded as I thought. But there were so many birds. And the sun was on my face. Some of the birds, so tiny, were flitting around me, and almost getting into my stuff. At first it was a little scary and freaky, because honestly I think birds are creepy, but I decided to be one with nature. I asked God to let one land on me because that would have been cool, but now I’m glad that he didn’t do that. But I talked to the birds, and listened to them, and I think they liked me.
Then, I decided I should probably get home. I had been watching people walk go through the bluff and assumed there was some sort of path that would lead me up to the top, so I didn’t have to go back down the path I had come through. I thought, I’ll take a short cut, like that man up there who some how went straight up. There must be a path I can’t see.
And at first it was fine. A little tricky, but I figured I would see the path that the man had taken. He had those walking stick things, and I thought I would manage. But then something went really wrong, and I ended up just scaling this almost vertical bluff. And let me tell you, I thought I was going to fall to my doom. Probably not death, but definitely a severe injury. The higher I climbed, the worse it got, and I was little like a spider monkey clinging to the side of this cliff. I had to try to reach for small trees and roots, and I stopped caring about the ones with thistles. I just didn’t want to fall. Then there was nothing left to hold on to except for the dirt. I literally had to try to dig my nails in, and still I was slipping slowly downward. And it was a work out! This couch potato was definitely not equipped!
When I was about 75% up the cliff, I found the smallest little outcropping where I could sit, as long as I didn’t so much as move an inch, and kept my body in exactly the right position. But from there, I could see the city, and Canada Olympic Park, and the river, and the mountains in the west. The picture above really doesn’t do it justice, I felt like I could see every crevice of those mountains. And even though I could have literally sneezed and fallen to my death, for a minute, everything was still, and I just thought about how beautiful it all was.
Then, I mustered a final burst of strength, and was able to make it the last few metres up the hill. I wasn’t sure I could make it up over the edge, but, oh my God, the flat ground was like heaven.
I didn’t really know where I was. I had completely miscalculated where I thought I was, but hey, I had all day to myself, so I just started walking. I walked through a seriously nice neighbourhood that I didn’t recognize, and then eventually I got to the very end of my road. I live on the very opposite end of this road, so it was still a twenty minute walk, but a straight one, from that point on.
I was filthy and had sticky little thorns in my hand, but I was alive, and I felt the Spirit in me, and it was honestly the best day I’ve had in a while. I can’t wait for the next time I’m in mortal danger!
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13