Stumbling Together in the Right Direction

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It has been a while since I’ve written anything here.  Some of that is due to the busyness of our lives.  And some of it is the weirdness inside my head.  I mentioned a few months ago that the seasons impact me, and this fall and winter hit me harder than I was really ready to admit.  November through the first full week of January was a blur of gray and weariness. And despair crept in around the edges.

So in the middle of that, I struggled to get the words out of my head and onto my paper.  The words of encouragement and hope that I felt that I should write, were not available to me.  Because sometimes, even though I know the right words to say, I can’t believe them enough to actually say them.

But also in the middle of that, I had people reach out to me.  My husband kept tabs on my wobbliness and gave me grace and space and truth and love. The friends that knew me during my darkest seasons recognized my quiet isolation and pulled me towards them.  The newer friends recognized that something was different and checked in on me, and kept letting me know they wanted to see me at our places.

Time and sunshine and my people brought me back, and kept me from continuing down that direction.

Growing up, I remember vividly a phrase used throughout my childhood church.

“Walk with Jesus.”

It was a command. . . .”Just walk with Jesus and He’ll guide you.”

It was a question. . . .”How’s your walk with Jesus going?”

We even sang about it. . . .”He walks with me and talks with me”

And in my mind, these Holy Walks with Jesus were perfect.  Serene.  Joy-filled.  Arm-in-arm Jesus and I would stroll casually down a beautiful garden path, while we chat about how beautiful the world was, and He would tell me how capable I was, and He would help me navigate a direct line from this wretch of a person that I believed I was, to the worthy Christian I so wanted to be.

But my journey with Jesus has never been so smooth.  Or so straight.  Or so idyllic.

Not a garden stroll.  Not even a brisk walk by the lake.  It is a hike.

It is bumpy and full of arguments and questions and petulant pouting and name-calling and anger.  It is full of exhaustion at the journey and toddler-esque whining about how much longer this is going to take.  My journey with Jesus is not the beautiful vision from my childhood.  But it is beautiful in its own way.  Beautiful in the grace He has shown to me in each season.  Beautiful in the love He has poured out on me – even as I whined and cursed at him.  Beautiful in the tenacity with which He has held me.  Over and over and over.

My pastor uses a phrase frequently that personally resonates with me much better than “Walking with Jesus”.  He says we “Stumble together in the right direction.”

And that is me.  I think.  I hope.  I’m still struggling along with Him and He is still holding me up and redirecting me when I go awry, reminding me to love – myself and others.

The idea that our journeys, both with Jesus, and with progress through our mental illness will be a straight and easy line is a falsehood.  It is not as easy as deciding to make a change, or do the work, or follow the path.  It’s a winding trail, full of obstacles and switchbacks and hairpin turns.

And you will stumble.  I have.  More times than I can count.  The fall will sneak up on me.  Swimsuit season will send me spiraling.  I will begin to feel confident that THIS time I am truly, fully well, only to fall directly back into my old mindsets.  An offhand comment will push me back into the darker recesses of my brain.  And I’ll find myself taking a step backward.  And another.  And isolating.  And believing the lies that I will never actually get better.

And when that happens, Jesus is there to hold me up and love me back to myself, slowly but with love and grace.

But. . .the stumbling together is more than just Jesus and I.  There is more to my “together” than just Jesus.

I stumble together with my small group.  The ladies notice when I stop responding to the group texts, when I go radio silent and they reach out, with love and grace.

I stumble together with my oldest and best friends.  They call me out on my lies – both to them and to myself. They knock on my door and bring me coffee and truth, with love and grace.

I stumble together with a depression support group.  They see me weekly and listen to the latest steps in my journey, and ask me how I’m feeling, see the tears that I blink back and respond, with love and grace.

And I do the same for each of them.  These are my people – that I am transparent with.  That are transparent with me.  And so. . .slowly. . .with love and grace. . .we stumble together in the right direction.  We stumble together toward progress and hope.  We stumble together toward Jesus and His love.

Depression can be so very isolating.  It is all too easy to believe the lies that no one will accept you, understand you, support you.  And these are the lies depression tells us.  But they ARE lies.

Jesus accepts.  Understands.  Supports.  And His followers should as well.

Find those people.

Be those people.

Having people that you can truly be vulnerable with, authentic with is so important.  A group of 3, a group of 10, a group of 20.  Online or in person.  We all need people around us, to stumble with us, to pull us up our hills, to speak truth to us in love and grace. 

We need those people, and we need to be those people.

To stumble together toward Jesus and His love.

Two are better than one. . . . If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.

                Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

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