Forever Yours

Darkness descends upon my soul

as fear and self-hatred entrap me.

The earth opens revealing a pit

with an insatiable appetite.

Defeated, I fall to where all seems lost,

to where light fades into hopelessness.

 

Tears, anguish, death.

Each attempt to escape sends me

deeper, deeper into sorrow,

transforming me into someone unrecognizable.

“Oh God, I can’t believe You love me!

How wretched I am–a failure!”

 

How can there be hope for me,

so undeserving,

so unlovable,

so unrighteous?

The darkness twists lies into truth–

easier to cling to than forgiveness.

 

“Fight, fight! Don’t let the enemy win!”

A faint cry breaks through the darkness, almost incomprehensible.

“I love you! You are Mine! Even broken, you are beautiful!”

Music to my soul, I hear my Father’s voice

leading me out,

shining His light so I could come home.

 

How can it be

that He loves me so?

How can it be

that I’m worth it?

How can it be

that with all my mistakes, He still blesses me?

 

Father, Your grace astounds me;

Your love saves me;

Your Spirit moves me;

Your joy envelops me;

Your faithfulness lifts me;

Your sacrifice will keep me

forever Yours!

~~~

It’s been almost a year since I wrote my last poem “Faith Over Fear.” Thinking about writing this post was difficult because I struggled to keep that mindset of having faith over fear; rather, for awhile, I let fear grow inside me to such a point that I became lost to who I was. As a Christian of 23 years, this did not seem right. I was ashamed of my behavior, my thoughts, my hopelessness. There really isn’t a catalyst moment for why this began, but I can say it seemed to start last summer. I had just finished a school year that I didn’t expect to end well, but it did. I was proud of being able to accomplish a teaching job that I felt was impossible and out of my league. When I wrote “Faith Over Fear,” I had finally given things over to God, and even though my job was not a piece of cake, I saw people and situations with God’s perspective more than my own. I even fought to keep my job and worked harder towards obtaining a teaching license. So why did that change? I don’t fully know. All I know is that fear and anxiety gripped me to the point of dangerous thinking. Everyone could see it, which made it worse. I have never been one to hide my emotions, but in this case, it wasn’t just my job at stake, it was my testimony. How can I say I follow God when I let fear and doubt cripple me so badly. Where was my faith? It was depleted. There’s no sugar-coating it. I felt I could not succeed at what I was doing; therefore, I was a failure. It didn’t matter God opened doors; I was unwilling to let things go and trust Him. I said “I can’t!” and I loathed my own poster I put in my classroom, which read “Don’t say you can’t until you discover that you can!” My conviction was staring at me in the face until I couldn’t take it–I quit. I quit, thinking the job was the problem. It wasn’t. The fear and anxiety continued, but now I was truly a failure. I gave up! I have never given up before! And I had to face my decision. I had to face myself and the reality of it all. “You’re stupid. You’re worthless. Look what you did to your family. How could you?” Thoughts, lies, over and over multiple times a day, every day. Self-hatred reigned in me. I can forgive anyone else but myself. It was torture to the point where my thoughts went dark–places I never, ever thought my mind would go.

Now some may be thinking, “Come on, Lauren, this was just a job. It’s OK to fail!” But not to me. Failure has never been an option although I know how ridiculous that sounds. I know it’s true we learn from failure, but it was the idea that I gave up. I know God would have given me the strength and knowledge to keep going. I just didn’t want to. I didn’t believe I could do it. Those awful thoughts were relentless. I didn’t trust myself alone. But those who love me didn’t give up on me even when I gave up on myself. They loved me when I felt unlovable. They encouraged me, prayed for me, held me. Little by little the light came back in. I started applying for jobs–and oh how my pride wanted to take over. What started as “I would never apply for that” became “Oh, please call me back!” I finally got a job, and although it’s nothing I would have ever planned for myself, it’s good for me for now as I continue to grow in the Lord. My hope is to be able to teach Bible one day when the timing is right–truly, when I’m in the right place with God to teach again. Just those little steps forward helped me to gain confidence. I enjoy interacting with people and actually being a light to those around me. As many know, music can be powerful, and I love to sing. While everything was going on, I lost my joy of singing as I felt like a hypocrite to sing praises to God when I wasn’t trusting Him. But I started listening to the 2019 Wow CD and also to Lauren Daigle’s CD “How Can It Be” (I still listen to this every morning on my way to work). The songs awoke something inside me and as I started to sing, I started to believe the words, and essentially the truth, once again. There is still so much for me to work on, but I am beyond grateful and blessed to still be here, and God’s grace has been more than sufficient. His love is so immense that even when we don’t love ourselves it’s still there, waiting for us to accept it.

Although this post isn’t easy to write, it’s during these times where we can decide to stay in the pit or be transformed and grow. I mistakenly thought that the pit was my new home, but thanks be to God that He called me out and placed my feet on the solid Rock once again! I encourage you to reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Everyone is going through something; it doesn’t matter if it seems big or small. Lift each other up and help to bring Christ’s love and light back into their lives. You never know the impact one word or gesture could make.

~~~

Side note: I didn’t realize until after I wrote the poem how much it resembled Psalm 30, which is also a great read. Check it out!

©Lauren Heiligenthal

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3 thoughts on “Forever Yours

  1. Hey Lauren! I’ve been meaning to reach out and check on you. The Lord has brought you to my prayers a few times, so know that the Holy Spirit is looking out for you on your journey. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is praying for you! Keep looking up. 🙂

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