Slowly, I recovered physically, but nothing felt right. A cloud had descended on my soul. I hoped it would disappear as swiftly as the morning fog. Instead, it lingered, deepened.
As that year of misery finally drew to a close, my husband and I forced smiles and agreed, “Next year will be better.” Enter covid-19 and isolation, more broken plans and massive loneliness. This year began with the death of my best friend.
I don’t share this to depress you or ask for sympathy but simply to offer some background. I’d been more than halfway through writing a novel when my words disappeared. You know the saying, “Words fail me”? Yeah, that. The more I tried to create the next scene or even a line, the more frustrated I became. The words I tried to grasp seemed to flit close by and then flutter away like a butterfly.
Again and again, I asked God, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I accomplish anything? Why am I so tired all the time? Am I just lazy?” After a couple of tweaks to my physical heart, I do have more energy. However, words still played hide-and-seek, taunting me as they stayed out of reach. Perhaps writing was no longer God’s plan for me. Maybe I’d been attempting something for pride’s sake when He had something else designed. So I kept asking Him to show me – and to make it obvious to my fuzzy mind.
One bit of writing remained possible, my posts of Biblical memes on Facebook. As I shared pieces of my heart, I was the one blessed with courage to continue. Then last week, a meme lifted off my screen and into my heart. This verse portion from Ecclesiastes shone a bright light into my darkness: A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
Like a ray of sunshine piercing dark clouds, I realized my burden had a name: Grief. Pieces fell into place, and I felt rather silly for not recognizing it before. Sure, I’d mourned those losses, but shouldn’t it be completed by now? Apparently not. Those wiser than I already knew that grief requires its own timeline, but somehow the recognition of it eased the heaviness in my soul.
Then, as I considered the verse, I sensed my heavenly Father extending His hand to me, whispering, “Come, my child, it’s time. Dance with me.”
“I don’t think I can.” I shook my head. “I don’t know the steps.”
He smiled. “Take My hand, and let Me lead you in the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 11:29 The Message.)
If you’ve wandered aimlessly in the valley of the shadow as well, I hope you will give yourself grace to mourn. And when the Father extends His hand, grasp it and follow His lead.
I still don’t know what direction God will lead me regarding writing, but I do know His hand is warm and steady and His steps smooth and purposeful. He will lead me through this valley and into the His glorious future.