What if I was created with no purpose at all? The thought latches on to my spirit, like a leech. I feel my heart , suffocating. My soul cringes. What if Solomon was right? What if life is meaningless existence, with no new thing under the sun? What if nothing really matters, when it’s all said and done?
Empty… Hopeless… Defeated…
Today I invite you into the secret place of my heart, a place where swords swing and dust flies, as wars rage between the life I was created for, and the lies of the enemy. It is a place I prefer to hide from the public, wishing rather to focus on the positive, bright side of life.
This is not because I want to deny the hard or negative thoughts, but because I don’t want to give power to the negative. The things we focus on most, have greatest influence over us, and shape us. (Proverbs 23:7 & Luke 6:45) The things we speak out, are the things we give power to. The things we dwell on, most profoundly impact the state of our mind, our spiritual health and life in general. If I am going to speak words, or write them, I want them always to bring life and hope, not darkness.
Sometimes, however, we have to share the darkness, in order to point another, who is still caught in it, toward the light. That is my hope in writing this.
The darkness I write about is a very real part of my life, and has been since early childhood. I share it to encourage those of you who struggle with feelings of defeat, worthlessness, and discouragement or depression. I want to encourage you not to surrender to these lies. I too, battle depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and the fear that I am destined for failure. These feelings are real, but they only have the authority we give them.
People see me, outgoing, confident, and fun-loving. And I am. In a way. But, if you could look inside my thoughts, you would find a raging battle, many a day. You would see this does not come without determination, faith and choice. The reality is that I have spent my entire life fighting negative voices, negative thoughts, and negative feelings.
In almost everything I do, whether ministry, or other work, these demons confront me, warning me that nothing I do will ever matter, scolding me for believing I could make the smallest impact in anyone’s life, let alone in this world.
As the voices grow louder, I see myself again as the toddler, with vacant eyes, in a violent home in Mexico, hiding behind a wood stove, peeking out to see if my world is safe. Like I did then, I try to close out the voices, but they’re too loud.
I am again an 11-year-old, down on my knees, asking God to spare my life and that of my family. But this time it is not physical life I’m asking Him to protect. It’s the fire that burns in my heart, the passion, the will to live with purpose and meaning. Everything in me wants to retreat in fear, to hide, to withdraw. I want to withhold my heart from even those closest to me, to surrender to the voices. It would be easier. If I would withdraw from the enemy lines, maybe the accusing voices would stop and the dark feelings disappear….
It is as though I wander, in the wastelands of my heart, looking for an oasis, a place to be filled, something to give me a sense of purpose and meaning. I want my life to matter. I want to help people, to bring life to others, but for all my effort, it feels futile, at times. Especially when I fail, and it feels like the dark side is winning.
How can I give if I myself am empty? What have I to offer, if I fight the same demons, the same darkness and the same fears?
It is so easy to reach for people to validate me. Or for ‘success’—by this world’s standards—and success evades me, mocking me. Like the annoying schoolmate who would run around the corner, poke his head back around and blow a raspberry, it taunts, daring me to pursue, but already declaring me the loser.
Sometimes I’m drawn into the game of proving myself to those around me. The deeper I’m sucked into that vortex, the stronger the negative voices grow, as they pull me toward the ‘black hole’ of depression and defeat.
For almost nineteen years, my husband, Tim, has watched at close range, as I fight this battle. He has entered in, prayed, loved and supported me. But, at the end of the day, it is my battle to fight. No one can make choices for me.
So what is the secret? First, I shift my focus from self, to God and people. Negative feelings that take root are the result of unhealthy self-focus. Rather than producing positive change, these negative thoughts consume you and suck you into lies they tell. Secondly, I choose to move forward in faith, even while my feelings continue to lie to me.
Isaiah 35 speaks prophetically of the life and the hope that Jesus will bring, and verse 6 says: ‘…waters will burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert….’
There is no wilderness, no desert, no wasteland more dry and hopeless than a mind consumed with negative thoughts. When Jesus enters this wasteland, and defines who I really am, defines my success and my purpose, the negative thoughts lose their power.
When negative thoughts bombard you, and the enemy tells you that you will never succeed, that you will never amount to anything, don’t take it lying down.
Invite Jesus into the wastelands of your heart and a stream will begin to flow, bringing life to the desert places. Know the truth that you are His, you are loved and valued, and the power of the lie is broken.
© Trudy Metzger 2012