Mornings are so very important. Before my family wakes, I spend my quiet time at the kitchen bar.
There was a time when I would rise for the day and go straight to the shower. Those days, before I had met coffee. I would do everything in a rush in the morning. Shower, get ready, out the door with a daily routine of fast food and plenty of canned caffeine. I’d push myself throughout the day to do as much work as possible. I’d go to work, and then often work after work. I refused to slow down. The evenings usually consisted of doing little things around the house until I would wear myself out. I would then pass out, and wake to start the process again.
My push was not only to acquire more; more money, more things, more validation and a needed toot of my own horn, but my way of avoiding my own thoughts. That tendency of picking myself apart. Too much alone time would bring on thoughts of failure, grief, anger towards others and shame. The idle time would destroy my motivation. It would have my anxieties cutting me into pieces, and my self-pity winning each passing hour.
I have fought an inner battle since I was a boy. A battle which many do not understand because they have never experienced it. Depression, accompanied by anxiety, is a complete nightmare when it is left untreated. When it is not understood. It can consume a person to the core of their being. It destroys all hope. It makes life into a question. “Why am I here?” “What good am I?” “Do I matter?” “Will I ever be happy?” These are just a few questions I would ask throughout my life as the monkey on my back would tear at my mind. My body would become tired and stressed. I would get blisters on a good portion of my face. The stress would make me so tense. The restless nights would have me staring at the ceiling as the thoughts grew deeper into a bottomless pit of hopelessness. This seriously went on for over thirty years. If I could find a drug or drink that would temporarily block out the underlying source of my demon, I would gladly consume it. Anything was better than suffering, and the numbing quality of a substance made life, temporarily, worth living.
I’d work to avoid. I’d keep running in order to not face my reality. I’d jump right over those things of the past that kept me in bondage. I kept moving in order to steer clear of issues that needed to be addressed and accepted. I had to eventually stop running. I had to face those underlying issues of the past. I had to accept what was real.
Praise God for His ways. He ran me through a gauntlet in order to be strengthened. His timing was perfect. His skill is masterful. It was through these trials that I saw His light. It was through these times I was able to seek the professional help that I needed. It was through His conviction I was able to release my deep need to hold myself together and embrace His guidance. My allegiance to Him began a much different way of living. That choice led me to many different avenues of healing. I was able to clean up what was harming me. Able to show up for counseling. Able to release the past and start living in the now. I was able to sleep for the first time in over twenty years. I was able to spend peaceful time with the Lord in the morning.
As I rise for the day, I often reflect. I look at the past days and see just how far I have come, and what the Lord has prepared. Within my free will, somehow intertwined with His omniscience, I sit peacefully most days. Some reading, writing, prayer and meditation now fills my daily beginning. And coffee. I don’t have to move quickly to avoid. I don’t need to dodge the past, because it isn’t right now. I don’t have to constantly worry about every little thing, because the Lord has got this life. I have to remain in Him (John 15, my go-to chapter), and be stilled by His presence. I praise God for another day of His peace. I thank Him for His patience with me, and my learned patience with myself.