You thought it would be easier this Christmas, but it's not.
Last November you were right here in this same spot, giving yourself the same pep talk, "If we can just hold life together a little longer and get through the winter... then I'll figure something out..."
Last November fear and anger rose in your throat, and you had to beat them down so you could stay clear headed.
There were the same whispers in the corners of the room then. Whispers that will paralyze you if you let them.
"That woman took everything I had. She ruined my life."
"I trusted that man, and he betrayed me."
"There's never enough money. Never, ever enough money. I work so hard. I'm a good worker, and I work all the time. I don't know what more I can do."
"I can't make another meal in this kitchen for one person. I'm so tired of being single."
"I invested ten (or twenty years) in that team, and once I gave them what they needed, they dropped me and moved on."
"Nothing in this marriage is ever going to change. I've had the same conversations, made the same requests for so long. It's hopeless. I feel numb."
"Why can't my family organize a simple holiday function without being abusive?"
"If I can just make this car (this jug of milk, this coat, this computer, this dishwasher, this pair of boots) last a little bit longer..."
And it's scary. It's big time scary.
You go through the motions of trying to figure it out, because you are the adult, and you have to.
But deep down you feel guilty, because there are books written about how to do life right, and they say you just have to take these ten steps and keep on keeping on. So you try.
Somewhere in the middle of step five of the Next Thing, you get the letter that your insurance rates are going up 35%, and you need to look for a vehicle right now, and you kind of want to punch Dave Ramsey and John Maxwell in the mouth, because life is complicated. It just is.
The world favors tall, alpha men and beautiful, young women, and charm, and manipulation. Cheaters win. Users thrive. Quitters have more fun.
And if you see one more motivational speech from some dude who was flat lucky enough to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right genes, you're going to lose it.
You've got your forehead propped up on your hands, and your elbows on a table, your brain is pounding, your adrenaline is high (fight or flight), and when you remember that the Bible says that God will never let the righteous crash into smithereens, you wonder if you weren't righteous enough to qualify for the platinum level of blessing, because as far as you can tell, he lets some people hurt awful bad for an awful long time...
And here. Here's where it happens.
This is the volta. The apogee. The opportunity.
"It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that [the human] is growing into the sort of creature [God] wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best."... "[God] wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. [The darkness] is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do [God's] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."
Which means these are sacred snarls and holy tangles.
This is what it feels like to be in the middle of a story.
Hell names the vortex but misses the meaning.
Hell names your best classroom a prison.
I wish I could be the wind, and put my fingers through your hair, and whisper over you.
I wish I could tell you a story and remind you that even dragons and witches have edges.
I wish I could let you know you are seen, and that your best, loneliest decisions have not been wasted.
I wish that I could hold all you fear you have wasted up before you and show you that your life is not lost, but it is here, and here, and here.
I wish I could remind you what is to come when "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Courage, dear hearts. Courage.