Tag Archives: winter fog

Depressingly Close to Darkness? Step Back.

10 Feb

They say God won’t give you more than you can handle. I say that’s a bunch of baloney.

I’ve been mulling over that phrase for a few weeks now, after a recent email conversation with a friend. I know the sentiment comes from a good place, but these words present such a simplistic view of a complex God that I’m wondering if uttering them as solace might do more damage than good. I can think of three families right this minute who are struggling with more than they can handle.

Did their troubles come from God? I don’t think so. The Bible tells us that all good things come from God, but all we know for sure about the negative is that sometimes He allows bad things to happen. Still, is it any consolation when we’re hit with tragedy or pain that it probably didn’t come from God? The logical response to that thought is, well then, why is He allowing it?

Every year about this time I go through what I’m finally beginning to recognize as depression. It may be a seasonal effect brought on by the dark and cold, the short winter days, and the weariness of less exercise, but this year it’s compounded by a heart-wrenching sadness because people I love are hurting deeply, and a fearful awareness of life’s uncertainty. We’re not guaranteed a single breath on this earth, let alone another hug from a loved one. How can we not become depressed at such revelation?

We can start by stepping back into the light and reexamining the situation. By remembering that darkness is not a color, but a tool that hides color. Under the proper light, we can see so much more of the picture. Sometimes what we think is revelation is actually the lie.

I often imagine my life as a beautiful tapestry being woven together strand-by-strand, the joy and sadness creating rich colors of every hue that merge with and contrast each other in a dramatic, unique story that only my life can tell. Sometimes, particularly in the winter months, I find myself with my face pressed into a tiny portion of that tapestry, sobbing at its bleakness. If I step back at all, it’s likely in a desperate attempt to yank out the dark strands and replace them with more joyful colors. I can’t weave, so I stuff and jam strands into the crevices until they look like weedy tufts spilling out at odd angles.

The Weaver knows, however, that if I could chose my own colors, and even if I could weave them in, I’d ruin everything. Without the dark hues, the final creation would just be evidence that I existed. What I imagined as bright colors would seem dull and ordinary, because without challenge or adversity, what would bring true joy? There might be an absence of sorrow, but that’s not joy. The entire piece would probably look beige.

Up close look at a carpet

Up close, the lines make no sense. I thought about including the bigger picture, but we each have our own, so I leave that part to you.

To fully understand the artwork AND the dark colors, I must stand all the way back and view the creation as a whole. In that light, I’d see an amazing story of victory and triumph over, at times, seemingly insurmountable odds, I’d see surprising twists and turns just when the end seemed sure, and I’d see a testimony about God’s bountiful goodness and generosity toward a woefully undeserving child.

Lately, I’m envisioning my own tapestry as a single strand in itself, being woven into the lives of those around me. When we purposefully examine how our lives are intertwined, and how much we can affect each other, we can become either overwhelmed or awed at the concept. I choose awed, because I know the Weaver, and I trust Him.

You see, it’s in those times of going through more than we can handle that we’re forced to give up trying to manipulate the strands by ourselves. He never expected us to handle it all. He wants us to let Him weave, to lean on Him, to pour our hearts out to him, and to love him regardless of what we see in the tapestry up close. In the right light, we can see our lives, not as fragile possessions we might lose at any moment, but gifts in which every undeserved breath and hug is a treasure. We can look to others and see how our strands are aligning, whether for one season or for many years, and to notice how, intertwined, they strengthen each other.

So it is with awe that we can step back and see the tapestry He’s weaving, understanding that we’ll never, under this sun, be able to see it all. But if that part we can see, if we look with the proper light, is so stunningly magnificent, just imagine the entire story!

I know, even as I write this, that it’s not always easy to take a step back. If you’re like me, and you still have your face meshed into the darkness, promise me that you will at least remember there’s a bigger picture around you, waiting for you to turn your face. When you’re ready, look up first, and trust Him to help you see it.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6