In the past, I prayed for strength, because I thought myself weak. But, as I sit and swiftly scan my life, I know I am strong. I reflect in amazement at every single challenge I've encountered and survived! Each obstacle loomed over me - so large, daunting, and each always worse than the previous. For every one I prayed, no... I pleaded for strength from above. I hoped to wake a new person with "strength" emblazoned on my chest able to tackle any challenge with ease, but each day I awoke the same woman.
Finding nothing new, amazing, or boldly inspired about me each day I woke, I figured the Lord found me utterly hopeless. So my prayers turned to tears as I asked God to forgive me for being so shamefully weak. I cried in silence - as I showered, when I drove, within myself. I was convinced that weak was part of my character DNA, just as others may be shy, playful, or gregarious - I was weak.
Yet, despite believing in my weakness, I have survived. I have pushed through each and every condition to find myself able to look back and be amazed. How is that possible in the absence of strength? I used to tell myself that I got through because of a "fluke", great friends, or someone finding pity on me; all of which I saw as miracles that I (with my character of weakness) did not deserve. And now I see how absolutely deluded I have been because it takes strength to receive.
There has been no challenge that I overcame by my own solution and doing. I have been blessed by true friends, inspired strangers, and God's grace; but, nothing could have come of all that without the strength to accept and use these gifts. I now understand what it means when someone says "be careful what you wish for... you might just get it." Over and over again the Lord answered my every prayer for strength! And as I blindly emerged from one challenge believing in and sulking in my "weakness" I immediately prayed again... for strength. He answered each time - not with the "S" on my chest in my superhero image of strength (sans the cape and tight-wear) - but, He provided another large and daunting challenge for me to finally witness my strength.
Now, I see that I've prayed for the wrong thing; strength is not what I need. I realize I don't need to pray for what I already have. Today, I pray the Lord give me courage...
I pray He provide me with an abundance of courage, that I may act upon my conviction, that I may use my gifts, and that I may obey His will for my life.
He asked me, "Is this all you think about now?" as I began another reflection of how my depression once tainted my world perception and created an alter-reality that I wanted so desperately to escape. And I paused because I did not know how to answer this question. What is this question? Why this question? I admit that I speak freely of my experience with depression. I speak freely because I can no longer be ashamed of something that everyone has felt at one point in their life. I speak freely because I cannot believe that I am alone when 14.8 million suffer majorly just like me; twice as many women than men. I speak freely because I see the symptoms all around me of people still chasing that farse called the "American dream" that was not designed for attainment but enslavement. I speak freely because it heals me. So why this question? Is my depression all I think about now? The question makes me realize the asker has not known long-suffering. I am not saying he has never suffered, I am not saying he has never felt pain. But it is clear to me that he has never been visited by the kind of suffering-pain that was only supposed to crash on your couch for a few days until things get better and be out your space but 3-months later is still eating your food, disturbing your sleep, and turning your sanctuary to your hell. That question told me that he never sat alone with only his history and a chisel and tried to chip to the core to see what exists. Now don't misunderstand - I'm not saying depression is necessary to understand self. It has simply been my curse turned to worth. My depression was a slow painful slithering death. It gripped and squeezed my every breath. I was exhausted, beaten, and confused... my mind the abuser that left no bruise. I was a prisoner of self's: self-loathing, self-hatred, self-shame. I suffered alone, of that we do not speak nor say that dreadful name. Shhh, depression... what a dirty word! Just the sound sullies the tongue! People hear it, cringe, and think "Oh, how sad, poor, and pathetic that one." But those words will never roll off their lips. Instead it's other insensitivities masked as support that slip. Like, "ah, you just need a break, a little vacation" and "you're stronger than this situation." Oh but my favorites are "you need to stop thinking so much" or "toughen up and pull yourself out of this rut!" There is no sense or certainty to depression, this I know. There is no clear cause and no one solution. There is no cure to something that cannot be understood; all there is is acceptance. And so I accept my condition like a pair of prescription lenses. It is always with me as I look at my world. It is a part of me just as my eyes provide my sight. Yeah, maybe he's right, all I think about is depression now... all I think about is what a gift my depression has been! See, once you have looked death in the eyes and lived to reflect upon it you understand the value of life! I know the bliss that can exist in one second - every time I open my eyes to each day! I understand the sacredness of NOW as the only thing we really experience - everything else is theory or remeberance. I know true happiness because I own my thoughts, my feelings, and my actions - even the silly-crazy-impulsive ones; they are the only things in life that I can call MY OWN. I have peace because I accept me where I am, who I am, and where I've been - I am a child of GOD, made in His image, in this world but not of this world, I AM! So to his question "Is this all you think about now?" I say, "Yes! I think about MY BLESSINGS EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY!"
It's our personal contract with God. He has distinguished us from all of his creations by this gift. He allowed us to eat of the tree and have knowledge beyond bliss... And true to the character of a benevolent king, the gift of choice does not require belief in His existance - He gives choice equally and freely to all his children!
And, as with all blessings, one bears responsibility to the blessor - to act with humility, seek with earnest, review without bias, and share without expectation. It is here that we stumble with our Christian walk. We forget that which distinguishes us from the grass beneath our feet to the mountain that touches the sky and from the amoeba to the great ape - choice! We forget that, like God, choice is omnipresent and omnipotent. Choice is always available. Choice is all powerful. It is the pathway to true freedom.
Choice is the birth-gift of all humanity bestowed by the Lord.