Have you ever gone through a period of life, reached the end, and looked back only to realize that it would forever be remembered as a time of immense change? The appropriate word that comes to mind is “landmark.” These “landmark” periods of time are the ones you look back on and they signify moments of extreme significance.
These last two and a half months, in my mind, will forever be a landmark period.
The middle of September signified the beginning of my “travel season” for work. For the next 9-10 weeks, I would be spending most of my days traveling around the country, spending my days with strangers and sleeping in a different bed each night. It was simultaneously an exciting and terrifying venture. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew that it would be hard.
In fact, I even prayed that it would be.
I didn’t want these last two and a half months to go to waste. I wanted God to teach me, grow me, and challenge me. I knew that He would come through but I didn’t expect it so quickly. I knew that He would challenge me but I didn’t expect the extent to which He did.
Lonely days. Sleepless nights.
The first two weeks met me with such ferocity. I underestimated how lonely I would become. Most of my day was spent in a car, left alone to my thoughts. My evenings were no different. For someone who regularly deals with depression, this was detrimental to my emotional health. The first two weeks set a precedent for the remaining seven. It was going to be a long, difficult road.
Then it happened.
The very thing I never would have wished or imagined.
I received the news that an old friend passed away from suicide.
It rocked my world harder than I thought it would. I mean, we hadn’t talked in years. I had my assumptions but I never acted on him. He seemed ok. He seemed ok. He wasn’t ok.
Week three was spent pushing through work, coming to grips with my emotions, and dealing with frustrations that had been mounting weeks prior. I couldn’t do anything but cry out to God. I had nowhere else to run. I didn’t want anywhere else to go.
The support and love I received over that week fueled me with strength and got me through. I can’t say enough how grateful I was, and am still, for those who reached out and took the time to encourage me.
I wish I could say the remaining weeks became easier. Circumstantially, they did. However, the exhaustion piled on top of the loneliness and I felt like I couldn’t stop myself from the tailspin. I found myself questioning longstanding friendships. I called people out. I hurt them. My depression got the best of me. I’m still sorry.
I’m not making excuses for my actions. I thought they were justified at the moment. I only wanted someone to pay attention. I only wanted someone to reach out and show me that they cared. What I didn’t realize, though, was that those people were there. They were always there and always had been. I was blinded. I was crushed. I was lonely.
There really isn’t much that one can do in the midst of a mental storm. I learned that I had to hunker down, pray hard, and not make any brash decisions. Of which, I failed on many occasions. Suffice it to say, these last few weeks have been chock full of mistakes.
But, and thank God for but’s, lying deep within the recesses of those mistakes were lessons to be learned.
Within each mistake was a step to be made. A bit of strength to be attained. Perspective to be grasped. Looking back, I now realize these things:
-No matter how many lies my brain and emotions may tell me, I am not alone.
-Lashing out at others does very little in the way of forward progress. If anything, it is a natural setback.
-BBQ is God’s gift to mankind.
The most vital truth that comes to my mind right now is this: God isn’t done with me yet. Over the last 24 years, I’ve made some incredible messes. I’ve put myself in sketchy predicaments, talked my way into a lot of trouble, and hurt more people than I wish. Despite each and every instance, God has been there waiting for me.
He never gave up on me.
There were plenty of moments that God could have washed His hands of me. I wouldn’t have blamed Him. I’m sure that others would agree. Without God’s grace, I’m a hopeless man. You know something, though? I’m not without God’s grace and I’m not without His love.
Neither are you.
The beautifully terrifying thing about God is that He is a just God. He hates evil. He hates the sin inside all of us; only because He knows that He is the best for us. While He hates evil, He loves us unconditionally regardless.
If you are feeling like He is far away, He hasn’t given up on you. Hold fast.
If you have walked away from Him and feel like He has given up on you, I promise that He has not. Hold fast.
If you feel as though all hope is lost, don’t quit. He hasn’t.
He loves you and I despite you and I.
While my heart and brain are flooded with regrets, this one thing brings me peace: God isn’t finished with me yet. It scares me to know this because I know that more difficult times are coming. It also fills me with hope because I know that, in view of the weight of eternity, these passing moments of pain are but a blip on the radar.
Positively speaking, I traveled places that some will never see. I experienced the beauty of the U.S. landscape that some have never been blessed to see. I met people who have equally encouraged me as they have challenged. 4,000+ miles across six states attending more than 45 fairs, conventions, and conferences. I made it. I finished. It’s over.With these things in mind, this travel season wasn’t so bad after all.
With these things in mind, this travel season wasn’t so bad after all.
God hasn’t given up on either of us. Don’t you give up on Him yet either.
You are loved.
You are valued.