With everything that’s going on in the world, March has been a tough month. The pandemic that’s been visited upon us has really taken its toll. I feel myself slumping into the lull it’s pulled us all into as my life slows down a bit more each new day. At first, I didn’t even notice it. I was so consumed with my own life that I hadn’t paused long enough to assess the unfolding events. The border shutdowns found me on a leisurely 5-day maiden trip to South Africa just because I could and I had some free time on my hands. That announcement was my awakening to the realization that something bigger was at play, and that everything familiar was being pulled from right under our feet as our health was being threatened and our freedoms curtailed by an unseen foe.
Truth be told, this March has been one of the harder months I’ve had to live through yet. The thing is, for everything that went on last year, I didn’t really deal with it. I buried my head in the sand and kept working. In fact, I ramped up my hours and worked even harder that before. Instead of dealing with it all then, I buried it. But everything catches up to us eventually, doesn’t it? This year began with me attending to my mother after she sustained a terrible injury from a minor accident. Thousands of miles away, I was happy to escape the winter and spent a quiet month in my beloved Kenya. Hidden away in the rural setting enjoying the greenery amid our daily trips to the local hospital for mama’s dressing to be changed, I slowed down my pace and enjoyed the simple life, taking time to smell the roses. Till now, I hunger to go back and do it again and again, the simple life. Coming back home to the US, I just haven’t been able to pick up speed again. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I’m depressed! In reality, I am finally grieving. And with grieving comes healing. My healing has just begun, even as my transformation continues.
My bible tells me something interesting about this process. My Father is not unfamiliar with the feelings and emotions I find myself going through right now. In the book of Isaiah the 61st chapter, the prophet foretells the coming of Jesus thus: the LORD has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. The ESV calls it a ‘faint spirit’, and the NKJV, the spirit of heaviness.
That’s what I have felt this month, the spirit of despair, a cloak of heaviness… It’s been so thick on me it has threatens to pull me under. I have had to encourage myself and speak to my soul like David did when he was rejected by Saul in the book of Psalm. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? (NIV). Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? (NLT). Asking this same question, other versions describe the soul as feeling dejected, uneasy, disquieted, restless, troubled, upset, perplexed, discouraged, agitated, depressed, in despair, in turmoil, bowed down; O my soul, why moanest thou within me? It’s comforting to find verses in the bible describing exactly what I am feeling. I am not alone in feeling this way, others have walked this route before me. There is nothing new under the sun, everything that is, has been before -Ecclesiastes.
Real talk, this current crisis perfectly suits my mood. I only flew one trip to London right before the shutdown, and that was it; I’ve been home pretty much all month. The slowdown was much needed for me and it is much welcome, whatever the financial inconveniences, consequences or setbacks it will bring with it. As I told the mister when he was harassing me about being what he basically called ‘lazy’; the world is having a ‘selah’ moment; my industry is having a ‘selah’ moment; I am having a ‘selah’ moment; get your foot off my back and give me a moment to breathe; no need to kick me when I’m down. When he protested that it was karma paying me back, I assured him that if indeed it was, then karma didn’t need his help. I’ve been darn near tears all month this month. I can’t explain why, only that it’s all catching up to me.
I’ve done my share of walking and reacting in the flesh and the Lord has had to pull me back and remind me that ‘a gentle and quiet spirit’ (1 Peter 3:4) is what is most pleasing to Him and that is what we’re aiming for. He has had to retrain me to not defend myself, to turn the other cheek, to agree with my adversary, basically to be a peacekeeper and not a troublemaker. Clearly, I haven’t been passing my tests lately, but the Lord won’t let up and the training continues; He desires that I ‘allow perseverance to finish its work, so that I may be mature and complete, lacking nothing’ (James 1:4). I am failing more than I am passing but I keep getting back up and following my Lord’s lead. He will perfect me if I tire not. And if I don’t grow weary in well-doing, then in due time I will reap a harvest if I don’t give up (Galatians 6:9). Whatever that harvest looks like, only God knows!
I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1). That is why I love the Bible; it has every solution contained within it, telling me how to resolve these feelings of grief, rejection, dejection, and deep despair. My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. David tells his soul: Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. He who watches over me will neither sleep nor slumber (Psalm 121:1). It always does me well to read the rest of that Psalm 61, for a solution for the heaviness in my spirit is contained therein. That’s the beauty of the word, every lament concludes with a solution, a way of resolving the otherwise unresolvable…
From everything that is transpiring privately, this is what I know. God is loving me and He is calling me to love at a higher level because He wants to know He can trust me with precious cargo. Growing to the next level hurts and I’m currently undergoing growing pains. But if I fail not, I will reap great rewards. For Psalms 126:6 tells me that ‘those who go out weeping, carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, as they bring in the harvest.‘ I pray I stay the course. I often find myself crying out to Him to draw me close and to not let go of me, for the journey to becoming love is not without trials. It does me well to remember that there can be no testimony without a test. I will leave you with an unfinished blogpost that I wrote while inflight to South Africa. It was a busy 5-days and I never got time to polish and post it so I’ll just tuck it here at the end of this one. May April be a much more favorable month for us all. God bless you all, ღ Helena ღ
Heart-check: A South African weekend getaway
As I write this, I am currently inflight on a South African Airways flight on my way to RSA. Up till yesterday, I was headed for London for the weekend. But after the press conference announcing the cancelation of flights to Europe, I quickly changed my plans and decided South African it is then. It’s my maiden trip to South Africa and I am excited to get around and see this blessed country. I boarded this 15-hour direct flight this morning at JFK and my plane lands at Johannesburg later this morning where a car will pick me up at the airport for the one-hour drive to Pretoria, my chosen destination.
The current health crisis the world is facing is a rapidly evolving situation and I have no idea how my travel back will be impacted; all I knew was that I needed to get away for the long weekend. The impact this health crisis is having on my airline industry is well-timed to my personal crisis because when my company announced further cancellation of our international flights to European destinations, all I felt was relief. While everyone else recoiled at the possibility of furloughs, I welcomed the thought as I feel I need the rest.
As my life unraveled last year, I didn’t stop to consider the cost. Instead, I dealt with it by throwing myself fully into work and flying almost nonstop. This year is quite different and I believe it’s time to pay the piper. I feel tired, listless, fatigued. I have no desire for much right now and I’m struggling as I attempt to charter the way forward. I am faced with the task of making decisions on weighty matters that will alter the cause of me and my son’s destiny. I am struggling to hear the voice of God as I grapple with the issues that need attending to and decisions that need making. At times like this, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and I have found myself shedding many a tear. My 3am prayer sessions are now more like 3am crying session, yet that is how my burden is exchanged for his lighter yoke and it’s how healing from the Father takes place.
My heavenly father has continued to show me his everlasting kindness as I walk into this new decade under His watchful loving gaze. I’ve continued to wake up in the wee hours to spend time with Him in prayer. I can’t help but feel a certain dryness though, something akin to walking through an area of parched ground. Times like this I am reminded that the darkest hour usually means dawn is right around the corner. For some reason, our Father loves stacking up the odds right before he moves on our behalf. I am reminded of how the Prophet Elijah in his showdown with the false Baal prophets, filled his troughs with water as he prepared to call down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice. Or when Jesus let Lazarus die all the way before coming to raise him from the dead…
Well, my troughs are filled to the brim with water right now and there isn’t a sign that fire could ever consume them, and my situation appears as dead as it could ever be such that nothing could raise it from the dead. Yet in Ezekiel, we see dry bones coming to life when he prophesies over them as instructed by the spirit of God. And in Job 14:7-9 while he’s lamenting for his life, he acknowledges that at least there is hope for a tree; that if it is cut down, it will sprout again and its new shoots will not fail; that though its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water, it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.
It’s hard to believe against all hope, even when all hope is gone. You question everything. ‘Did God really say? (Genesis 3:1)’ has been a staple question on my mind these last few weeks. I have pored over my journal to see what I wrote that God said, and I have even questioned what I wrote -I am in full second-guessing mode my good people. As Casey Doss likes to say, you never really know how much you trust God until all you have left is what you think he said. These are those crossroads decision-moments where one will either cling to God tighter or completely let go. Once before when I came to this point, I eventually let go completely. Faced with this choice again, I know I don’t want to be here in another ten years facing this test again. What comes to mind is what the disciples said to Jesus when he asked them if they too would desert him: where would we go but to you, for you have the word of life -Selah…