With as much stealth as I could muster, I made my way to the dilapidated building. I paused for a moment, unsure as to how I should proceed. The enemy was somewhere behind me, of this I was certain, and my hesitation gave fear the opening it needed. A feeling of dread swept over me, a certainty of imminent attack making my blood pulse. Spinning around, slashing with my knife, I encountered only empty air. I raised my weapon, mean and black, and perused the area…
“You’re supposed to hold it like this, Mom.” My son gently moved my fingers into the proper position on the game controller. I realized I’d been gripping it like a lifeline. “There’s only one zombie out there. You don’t even need to kill him.”
“What if I want to kill him?” I squeaked. “I don’t like feeling like he’s creeping up on me.”
With gentle tones, my son talked me back through the burnt out rubble, past the carnage left by warriors far more skilled than I. Each corner, every hiding place, held the potential for my destruction and my anxiety kicked up a notch. Then he was there, my undead enemy, his crooked, listing gait far too fast for my comfort. Raising my gun, I leveled the neon green sight on his rotting head.
Blam! Hitting my mark, I felt elated for a moment. Then he kept on coming. I fired again, and continued firing long after the creature was down for good. Turning to my son, I mirrored his proud smile. “You just leveled up, Mom. It’s going to get really crazy from here.”
Still smiling, I handed him the controller.
My first foray into Black Ops reminds me a bit of the past year. With a new blog launch on the horizon, my second full-length play scheduled to be produced, and my oldest daughter set to be married in September, the year 2016 was sure to be filled with joy and wonder, yes? I stepped out into a bright new year feeling like Superwoman, able to tackle anything.
However, it quickly became apparent that I was in over my head on a great many fronts. There were moments of victory, of course, but mostly I spent the year feeling like some gruesome, rotting thing was right behind me, just about to take me down. Somehow the year ended on the darkest note I’ve sung in many moons.
Nothing huge or horrible happened to me, just events and plans that didn’t quite turn out as planned, producing a hum of anxiety in the background of my mind.
Memories dredged up from the swamp of my past, unwelcome and dragging with them death, decay, and depression.
Hatred and vitriol spewing like rivers from my countrymen, their words used as weapons, cutting down those whose political opinions differ. The carnage inflicted on the spirit of this nation weighed heavy, and we all bear the stain of guilt.
Community tragedy raised questions without answers, leading to more questions which eventually led to a complete reboot of my belief systems.
All these bits swirled together to create the perfect storm, illuminating some ugliness inside of me that I didn’t even know was there, dark and hidden things of the heart that burst out and knocked me flat, leaving me exhausted and spent.
Superwoman had left the building, folks.
I felt a touch queasy after watching him skillfully take out the zombie army. It was quite impressive, yet left me feeling motion sick. My son, seeing my disorientation, quickly switched gears. “Hey, Mom. Why don’t we try something a little less intense?” Popping in Mario’s Mansion, he showed me how to vacuum up ghosts and avoid slipping on banana peels but the buttons were confusing me and my dizziness made it impossible to function. He introduced me to a couple more games with similar results.
In the end, we found that my current gaming speed consists of a simple Wii controller and a nice, tame Mystery Case Files game. Sigh. So much for my visions of becoming a hard, mean, zombie-butt-kicking mama.
Sometimes we just need a break from the intensity of life, don’t we? Call it a mid-life crisis, a spiritual attack, or whatever you will, but sometimes enough is enough, yes? Head spinning, we just want, no, need the ride to stop for a few minutes.
So that’s what I did. I stepped off the ride. I shut down the new blog. I stopped reading other blogs and severely limited my Facebook and news scrolling. Railing at God, I had a full blown spiritual temper tantrum. I ate bags of chips and dozens of cupcakes while binge-watching insipid soap operas on Netflix. And I cried. I cried more in two months than the past 10 years combined. I’m no stranger to seasons of depression but this darkness was a different sort of beast. The depth of it frightened me.
But now that I’m crawling up the far side of the pit, I can see that even in the valley of darkness, my Father is so, so good.
My meltdown/depression/whatever the heck that was, forced me to place every non-essential duty on hold and gave me some much needed space to rest and reflect. The hours of mindless Netflix viewing produced a sweet bonding with my kids and my husband, time I’m normally too busy to spend with them. Getting raw and real with my God has brought me to a place where I can deal with plans that don’t pan out or memories that resurface, bringing anger and shame. And I’ve seen that the ugliness inside my heart can’t stand against the fiery light of my Father’s love for me.
And so, even the darkness is brought around into submission to my Father, reworked into something that brings about good in my life.
So what will 2017 hold for me? I haven’t the faintest idea. I’ve been broken and pieced back together, no longer the same woman I was a year ago. For now, I’m content to rest and wait for divine direction. I’ll be pulling some posts from my other, now defunct blog to share here. And for some of you who asked to see pictures, I’ll be jotting down some thoughts about my daughter’s wedding to post with them.
For those of you who are still on this journey with me, despite my prolonged absence, I thank you. It’s good to be back here at Building Standing Stones. It feels easy and comfortable, like a simple Wii controller and a slow-paced mystery game.
Grace and peace to you, my friends, and may this New Year be filled to overflowing with the wonder of our many blessings. May we rest in the love of our gracious Father who brings life from even the hard and cracked places on our path, yes?