He Lit Up My Life: My Healing Testimony–Part 2

“Retelling this story fulfills our joy.” 1 John 1:4 (The Voice)

From enveloping, uterine darkness I came screaming into the light on October 17, 1977. Thirty-seven bittersweet years ago, that I wouldn’t rewrite, even if given the chance…

In honor of my debut, my parents dedicated the year’s chart-topper to firstborn me, “You Light Up My Life” (Debby Boone), in what I like to think was divine foreshadowing—of things to come in this vapor of a life I’d live…

“You Light Up My Life”

(Debby Boone)

So many nights

I’d sit by my window,

Waiting for someone

To sing me his song.

So many dreams

I’ve kept deep inside me.

Alone in the dark

But now you’ve come along.

And you

Light up my life.

You give me hope

To carry on.

You light up my days

And fill my nights

With song.

Rolling at sea,

Adrift on the waters.

Could it be finally

I’m turning for home?

Finally, a chance

To say, “Hey, I love you,”

Never again

To be all alone.

It can’t be wrong,

When it feels so right.

‘Cause you…You light up my Life

Depression has darkened many years of my existence, along with it’s sidekick, anxiety; a lifelong struggle that’s classically resonated with me in terms of darkness and light. But this debilitating affliction has been my fertile soil–affording me growth and humbling, and invaluable insight into the character of my God. After many years washed in tears, having been resurrected in His power, I’ve landed in a joyful place of acceptance, and gratitude for this instructional, life-giving thorn. Even readiness—to go forth with my story, a voice of light for so many in the darkness I’ve known.

Only God.

 Often it’s in life’s darkest trenches that our faith deepens the most. This has been, and is, my story. A glorious unfurling, a divine Jacob-like life-wrestle with my Father, Who will not let me go until I do—let go. Of everything else, hands free to cling only to Him.

It’s the way of our Lord. We must come to the bitter end of ourselves in the depths of our pit—hands to the heavens in utter surrender—for only then can He do His redemptive work. Until then, He lovingly leaves us in our abyss, so we’re not inclined to climb out on our own, believing we had any part in our deliverance—then it would not be a rescue. A life-raising. A redemption story wrought with His fingerprints.

You Light Up My Life was the soundtrack of my beginning. In 2011, when the Lord mercifully lifted the 15-year depressive sentence plaguing haggard, heavily-medicated me, it was “The Light In Me” (Brandon Heath).

“The Light In Me”

(Brandon Heath)

My life before You

I was a flame burning down

I was burning out

But You knew me better

For You there was never a doubt

Not since You gave me life

Something was different, I knew it the instant

You put the light in me

The spark, the shot to the heart

You are the hope that leads me out of the dark

You let Your love shine down

So that the world could see

You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

You are the Maker, you tell the sun when to rise

I’m just a house on a hill

But You make me brighter than all the stars in the sky

Keep me from growing dim

‘Cause in Your perfection, I’m just a reflection

So pull me closer to You

I’ll catch like a fire and I’ll hold You higher

‘Cause You put the light in me

This spark is shot to the heart

You are the hope that leads me out of the dark

You let Your love shine down

So that the world could see

You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

I’ll raise it high, I’ll let it show

From the rooftops down to streets below

In day and night, You will be known

And all will see

You put the light in me

‘Cause You put the light in me

This spark is shot to the heart

You are the hope that leads me out of the dark

You let Your love shine down

So that the world could see

You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

The light, You put the light in me

firecracker girl

 

He filled me–gave me a new song; and I was luminous for Him as I went forward, testifying of His power and grace. {Read testimony of my initial healing here.}

I lived 4 years free…of the affliction my doctors previously deemed my life-sentence, the thorn I’d resigned myself to. All lit up, the recipient of a miracle, I never would have guessed there would be a sequel, so illuminated by my Healer’s glory was I…and this is where part two of my testimony begins–the darkness descends…

It was this past Fall, 2014–my favorite season, with all its marked beauty and anticipation. And yet I found myself at a crumbling precipice–suddenly sinking into situational quicksand, with problems tumbling about me, closing me in. Choking out hope. The light within steadily dimming over 6 month’s time…

…First it was my youngest’s first flight-foray into full-day school, and adjusting to my “emptier nest”. I hadn’t forseen the loss, the utter desolation I’d feel; and the ground beneath me began to crumble…

…Simultaneously, my fourth-grader’s rough first semester, struggling to find her social niche—and the resulting uncovering of this mama’s own school-age wounds—fossils of the soul, fresh pain covered quickly by life’s tempests…

…Then, the death of our “firstborn” dog—the one that represented an era, that had comforted my aching soul my first time around depression’s block…

…My husband’s job situation worsening, while the demands of running a small business built, creating suffocating stress…

…A good friend’s deterioration in the grips of cancer, and subsequent death; witnessing the unholy unraveling of his young family …

SLAM. SLAM. SLAM. 

Each blow knocked me further into depression’s depths…joy’s light snuffed. Re-entry into the darkness I knew so well.

On a heart level I think I knew. But denial was easier…no way was I going back there…to watch the testimony I garnered slip through my fingers like finest sand. I reasoned this had been a tough season—surely as soon as things looked up, I would too.

But my hope was fraying like a wind-beaten flag, trial-torn. I told my husband in a raw moment, heart worn transparent from the pain, “I’ve begun to believe things are never going to get better.” He looked knowingly at me, pained. “That’s not normal,” he returned. And silent screams began to rattle within…

It took the faithful counselor who had walked me through the darkness of before to confirm my worst fear: “Leslie. You’re depressed.”

It was me, in that moment, that had unraveled. All of me, undone, blowing in the cruel winds of circumstance. Again.

But. I had been here before, for better or for worse, so I knew well the choice before me. To spiral downward, quietly accepting my depressive demise–Satan the victor–or to fight.

Perhaps it was a holy discontent that boiled up in me just then; a righteous anger. Whatever it was, I chose the latter—the fight. (And it’s made all the difference…)

One day, warring in the depths, I was reading Nehemiah. How he girded his loins for battle. Shored up fortification for the city of Jerusalem in the face of enemy threats. In the form of a wall–an ancient city’s most certain defense.

“But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” Nehemiah 4:9 (NIV)

A prayer wall. 

I heard the whisper, clear as day; and, now a warrior in my own army, I acted immediately. I sprang into action in the face of impending disaster, and with the Lord’s help, prayed into being a wall of my own, building about myself an impenetrable fortress from my enemy. I identified seven trusted girlfriends that would stand as pillars of prayer about me, for a month straight.

And this they did. A more humbling experience there never was, in all my thirty-seven years. Not to mention more inspiring.

Enveloped in their prayer cocoon, God led me to seek help from an authority on natural supplementation for mental health. He helped me believe despite my reservations, assuring me with His trademark peace that this time was different than before. The darkness of before was only lifted with the help of pharmaceuticals—my Rescuer’s chosen method at that time.

And so I took the leap–into the “vitamin lady’s” (as I referred to her) prescribed course of treatment, and felt noticeably lighter a mere week later. The dawn…

A month later, to the DAY that God had forged the prayer wall about me, I emerged from my struggle—and from my chrysalis of prayer—all lit within. My head lifted, I triumphantly texted the following to the faithful who carried me on the wings of their petitions:

“My dearest prayer wall friends, I’m writing you today with good news: I’m feeling much, much better…brighter, more optimistic and upbeat…you’ve faithfully prayed me to a better place!”

The Lord had come through in a mighty way, once again, escalating my belief in Him to an unprecedented peak. This time around, my anthem became “Great Are You Lord” (All Sons and Daughters):

girl in nature

 

“Great Are You Lord”

(All Sons and Daughters)

You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

To You only

You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

To You only

[x2]

All the earth will shout

Your praise

Our hearts will cry

These bones will sing

Great are You, Lord

[x3]

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

To You only

[x2]

…Shoddy jars of clay, we are, and by Divine design. If it weren’t for our cracks…

For it’s through our unsightly scars that the glory of the Most High can shine—lighting up our lives, and in turn, this dark, dark world.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-9  (NIV)

Twice now. 

My life, a testament to His healing power, His saving grace, His plans to prosper those He loves…

Twice now, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV)

Now, glorying on the other side of Twice, I believe, most ardently, my story does not belong to me. It belongs to its Author–my Maker, who purposed it to testify of His greatness. And so I’ll not keep it to myself, but let my light shine to advance His kingdom, and hopefully, spark others on to belief in the Most High; the One that lit up my life not once, but twice

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15 (NIV)

lights

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