The Empty Box

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I got this prayer box necklace from my aunt years ago and recently it got me to thinking.

Looking at the empty box, I could have worn this as just a pretty necklace over the years, or I could take my prayer and place it in the box, close to the heart. I chose to write my favorite scripture and put it in the box and whenever the necklace moved or I saw it in a reflection I would meditate and believe that word was qualified in my own life.  The empty box did not remain empty.

I use this, as an illustration, to show how we may take the time for our empty box during our downtime. We have spent all day, pouring out our energy and when we stop we are depleted. When we take the time to recharge,  we make choices. Those choices are to leave that box empty, fill it with distraction, or fill it with life.

For a season I found myself filling the empty box with distraction. Such as binge-watching Netflix or spending hours on my social media accounts when I wanted to just ‘chill’. Not before too long it became habitual and without any thought, I pick up my phone first thing in the morning and throughout the day, all day, and mindlessly scroll.
Then there is the other box in the room that grabs my time. As soon as I sit on my couch I would reach for my remote and scroll for an hour looking for something to watch.
Then one day it hit me, did I really just waste an hour (or hours)  scrolling nothingness?

There is a danger for me personally to use ‘nothing’ or distraction during down time. Before too long it becomes same old’ same old’ and if not careful I slip into the melancholy of nothingness and the empty box turns into a life of meh.

Think of your own life, are you working and going home and doing nothing? Is the place that you want to be in 5 years? I ask this because if you are filling your free time with nothingness or distractions, then in 5 years time, you will accomplish only keeping your box empty.

I know this may be an extreme thought, but for me it became extreme. I was created to write, paint, minister and to be present, yet I filled up a season of my life with nothingness and wondered why I was not getting anywhere. It all turned so quickly and without notice went from a few minutes of decompressing daily, into a lifestyle.

I am being exposed here. Not because it is fun to admit it, but because I know I am not alone and my hope is that others will see before the melancholy or time thief sets in. The thief of your time can also be a thief of your joy.

So what can you fill the empty box with?

I am determined to fill my life with things from the Lord through prayer, worship of all forms and pursuit of my future that He has planned for me. I want my empty box to become filled with life. So that I may pour it out onto others and not be running on a nothingness.  So that I may remain young and strong.

Psalm 103:5- He fills my life with good things so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.  

Joy Despite the Pain is Not Denial but a Necessity!​

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Joy despite the pain is not denial but a necessity. These are the words the Lord spoke to me days after the darkest, lowest point in my life.
Let me back up just a bit, before that revealing moment.
In 2010 I had been through the darkest valley I had ever known. I was a church-going, woman of God, that loved my family, loved my husband, loved my kids and my friends and all of a sudden, it wasn’t enough. I won’t go into the details that lead to this valley at this time. Just that I was in one.
In this valley of death, I was ready to end my life. I began to cut people away from me. I didn’t see it at first. In the beginning, it was because someone wronged me, and chop, they were out of my life. Then it was someone wasn’t around for me the way I needed them, and chop, they were out of my life.  Then it became a chopping block for no other reason than I was done with people. I wanted to hide away. I wanted to end all my physical pain that was blinding and no end in sight. I felt worthless, I felt hindering to others, unwanted (because I didn’t want myself) and unloved (because I could not love myself). I only saw my lack and hated myself for it. I truly hated me and the mess I was in.

The baffling thing is, on the outside, I seemed to have it all together. I was strong, I was faithful, I was serving, I was blessed… BUT
Suicide and major depression are not spoken of in the church very often or perhaps even not at all. Women are going to church Sunday mornings with a smile on their face, all the while dying inside. They feel guilty for dying inside, they feel weak and unworthy for feeling this weight they can’t explain.
Some will keep that mask on their face until, like me at that moment, they are ready to end it all.

I was sobbing in the bathtub, I had been told some very negative things by doctors, ” you have to live this way, the pain will not kill you, you don’t want to get better if you won’t try XYZ,”  lets forget I had tried A-W and was exhausted and broke. I was blinded by the opiates they had put me on for the pain and I was just done. I had it planned. Submerge in the tub inhale deeply and end it. My husband knowing something was off, sat on the other side of the bathroom door, banging on it begging for me to let him in.
I stopped crying answered in a very calm voice, ” I am fine, I just need some time.” He stood on the other side, quiet.

At this moment, I was not thinking of my worth, I was not thinking that my family needed me, my family loved me, all I could think was to end the pain both physically and emotionally. I dreamed of the feeling of nothing.

With a final heart plea, I said, “God you promised me joy, where is it.”

It was THE most defining moment in my life. He answered my spirit and said, ” you have joy, you just need to find it.”

My despair cleared and for the first time in 10 months, I had hope stirring in me. I had no idea the journey I would embark on, but that moment with my savior, truly saved my life.

In this process, Writing for Joy was created. I still hurt, I still was broken, I still had limits to my abilities, but as I sought God on what was robbing my joy, each day a bit more joy filled the holes of empty in my heart. One day while still walking in physical pain, but feeling joy again in my heart, I heard God speak clearly to me, ” Joy despite the pain, is not denial but a necessity.” This became my new mantra in life. I was still waiting for physical healing but in the meantime, I was learning my circumstances did not have to dictate my joy.

You see I needed this joy to survive. It did not matter that I was walking and have been walking for years in pain, the Joy is still mine. Through this process, God taught me how to regain it and obtain it.

I still have days the darkness tries to come in. But He gently reminds me, that Joy is my gift, waiting fresh each morning.

Now there is action that I take, to obtain and maintain my joy.

I have a feeling, that this blog and all these years of learning after the brokenness will be my beauty from ashes moment.

I will begin to write my new book: Joy Despite the Pain is not Denial but a Necessity

My heart is to speak into the heart of others, that have been hiding behind the mask, walking in the ‘normal’ every day while dying inside little by little. Not because they want to hide, but because perhaps they don’t even realize they are. Or maybe, just maybe, they don’t realize that they are not the only ones.

This scripture above in my heading is so relevant to me, as in the darkest season I had been bedridden in pain, He says to me RISE UP and I will speak to you and He has been so faithful both physically and spiritually. So I RISE UP and no longer walk in shame of where I was, but in JOY that I can use my story, to touch the lives of others that may be blinded in the pain at the moment.

Remember!! Joy despite the pain is not denial but a necessity.