From our first email exchange, over a week before we met, E spoke of seeing where God leads, in regard to our therapeutic journey. I found this comforting right away, and it cemented my sense that God was already leading, and had led me to *her*. That phrase, or something like it came up again and again in our early communications, and I found it so reassuring and hope-giving. I was also, if I'm honest, confused by what it would actually look like played out. I had some ideas off what therapy would look like, and the patience required to "let Him Lead" was not matching up with that in my head. That's because God really had led me to someone special.
The other part of my confusion stemmed from feeling like I'd been fighting for two years to get Him to deliver me, to save me, to rescue me. I'd been fighting with all I had, expending more energy than I had to give, throwing every ounce of my being into desperately doing all I could to get out of this dark place. I was exhausted, getting nowhere, and it felt like I was sinking deeper by the moment. I was trying supplements, exercise, focusing on trying to sleep, reading all I could about so many things to try. Everything would help, some. Nothing helped enough. I felt like God was silent, or maybe He'd abandoned me but to poke His head in once in awhile. So when was He gonna start leading? Or was I missing it?
Meanwhile, I came across an article about rip currents, how to spot and avoid them, and what to do if you find yourself in one. This latter part made something click and almost moved me to tears. When you find yourself in a rip current, being pulled further from shore and safety, you might feel like the best thing you can do is swim with all your might against the current back to the shore, but that's not actually the answer. You should, if you're a strong swimmer, swim parallel to the shore until you get free of the rip, then diagonally to shore. No fighting the current. Don't be a hero. And if you're tired or not a strong swimmer, don't swim at all. Stay where you are and gently tread water. In either case, CALL FOR HELP. Especially if you're not strong-don't try to save yourself-keep yourself afloat as best you can and call for help.
You may have read where I've compared mental illness like mine to the tide. It ebbs and flows. Sometimes it's pretty deep at high tide, and sometimes low tide is so sunny and warm the sand even dries between and under my toes. Well, the time of crisis (hard to say how long now, it was a slow process to get to the worst of it, but suddenly I was there) has been a riptide. Slowly it lurked below the surface, appearing calm, but suddenly I'm 100 yards from shore and terrified. And y'all, for so long I was doing the thing that came naturally- I was fighting with all I had to get back to shore-and it kept me going, so I'm glad I did-but it didn't get me closer to shore. It did exhaust me though, and make me feel helpless. I was barely treading water when God opened my eyes to the life preserver sitting there next to Him with a big E on it.
Now, after 6 weeks or so with E, and the moment we had last week where we both knew what I needed, I'm starting to understand what it means to let Him lead- a phrase E has used more, and one that has shown up in my devotional time too. Not only His leading, but His compassion and gentleness in doing so, which is salve to my soul!
It doesn't mean sitting back and doing nothing. It means showing myself grace in daily life, as I wrote about yesterday. It means pursuing and prioritizing time with Him and opening my heart in that time to know, be known, and let Him heal me through His love. It means practicing calming techniques and thought mapping exercises to help learn to combat the anxiety in ways I'm ready to right now, along with self care and feeding my body and heart and treating myself like I am a beloved child of the King. It means when challenges come, I have Him on my side, helping me decide what's best in each situation and giving me the strength to do it-whether it's saying yes and overcoming, or, if I'm just not ready, saying no and (hopefully) experiencing less shame. It means there's no rush, no timetables, no metrics I have to meet in regards to performance-and that big growth can happen in small ways. I hope to share soon the ways I'm seeing growth and change, and that maybe it will encourage your heart too.
I have so far to go, but each day I become more confident that I'm on my way.