Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

It's been an incredible year. Walking this journey of victory over darkness has been a daily act of faith and learning. My heart has been tempered in ways I never thought possible and has, at this moment, left me feeling raw and vulnerable and wonderful. I cannot begin to express in words the gratitude that courses through me... gratitude, along with a myriad of other emotions I didn't think I was capable of experiencing. I am rendered almost speechless.

Two years ago at this time, I had just been released from a psychiatric unit in a local hospital. My heart was torn apart, my will to live was non-existent, and I was weary on a cellular level. I had no hope- no vision beyond the pitch black blanket over my soul. I was hospitalized by my psychiatrist, who was worried I was a danger to myself. She could see the emptiness in my eyes. She could see that I had given up. It's hard to imagine, and it's hard to describe. Despite my beautiful family and faithful husband, all of the good things in the world could not penetrate the broken, sorrow-filled pit in me. 

While I was in the hospital, the doctor deemed my depression "treatment resistant". He recommended that I try ECT and an MAOI class anti-depressant as a last-ditch effort to offer some relief. I declined the ECT but allowed a medication overhaul. Unfortunately, the MAOI put me into a manic state, and coupled with the depression and anxiety, I became even more dangerous and hostile - if that were possible. I spent the evening on Christmas of 2008 in my bathroom, injuring myself to quell the voice of self-loathing. I wanted nothing more than to die.

Here, two years later, I stand in the light of dawn. By the grace of God, I've been self-injury and eating-disorder free for over a year. My eyes are opened to the amazing gifts around me, and my heart has been revealed to experience love for the first time in my life. I'm building new memories with my family almost every day. God's repairing broken relationships, bringing in new friends, and helping me let go of destructive bonds. I feel fragile, still, at times like an opening flower bud. But I'm anchored in a real relationship with Christ. I've looked into His eyes and heard His heartbeat and He has breathed new life into my soul. Someone once spoke over me, "God says, 'You begged me for a second chance. I'm not into second chances. I'm into new life.'"

If anyone has read what I've written here over the past year, you know I'm not trying to pretend like life is simple, or even easy. My life is very much a work in progress, and I'm grateful that God didn't drop me off at the curb after "fixing" a few issues. The healthier I become, the more I realize my humanity. The more I understand the power of God, the smaller I feel - but the stronger as well. I'm living. It's taking me a while to figure out what that means - living life to the fullest. But I can see it. The things that fill my world are astounding. Even the pain. The fact that I can feel pain and not run for the nearest blade or bottle is a sheer miracle.

I could go on and on, but that's the gist. Christmas is a celebration of the dawning of a new era. The coming of God incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ changed EVERYTHING about how God relates to humanity - how God relates to me. We celebrate the love and the sacrifice, and we give gifts to each other to emulate in some infinitesimal way the consummate gift that is Jesus. Christmas is about the opportunity to have a new life, and to literally be made into a new being. I've gotten to experience that in some very literal ways this year. So when we sing, "Joy to the world, the LORD has come", we celebrate the arrival of Hope.

Hope has changed my life and the lives of my family. Merry Christmas! Praise be to the One who saved the world. Even me. 


Aaron, Angie, Hailey, Lexi, and Jacob said...

Merry Christmas to you, Emily! Love ya tons and so glad you are here and I was able to meet you!

jenstoakes said...

This was exactly the way I needed to begin my Christmas Eve, Emily. I am so thankful God continues to heal you; I can't imagine my life without you in it. I love you, friend!