In 2013, in the midst of a deep depression, struggling with anxiety and slogging though daily life with three small kids and a difficult season of our marriage, I sat on the phone listening to a friend whose marriage was on the brink. I knew I didn't have answers or quick fixes, but I did have words of hope. I did have experiences to share...times when God had met me in dark places, when I'd seen God sustain our marriage and family through betrayals, brokenness and heartbreak. We were not yet "out of the woods", and yet I could see very clearly that God wasn't waiting for our marriage or my life to be "fixed" or "perfect" before using our story to encourage someone. I saw how, through my own experience with depression and anxiety, God was allowing me greater connections with my neighbors who struggled with depression and mental illness. I was humbled.
In that time and place, God graciously gave me eyes to see a spiritual reality of his work.
God wasn't giving either me or my friend the whole picture. Neither of us could rely on verbal directions from an expert or book or blog to orient us ahead of time to the struggles and trials we'd encounter or guarantee us safe passage. Instead he'd placed us together. Each one who had a light was sharing their own light with those closest to them, and that light, that truth, that revelation about who God was for us there, was helping and was enough.
Last Sunday, during a teaching series on suffering, we had the opportunity to share our journey to date with our NYC church family. It was as honest and raw a conversation as we've ever been able to have, and for both Matt and I it was a moment of holding out our lanterns to light up the forest for those nearest to us. In many ways, with Elizabeth's recent surgery, and two more scheduled for this summer, we remain in that forest. God continues to make us dependent daily on His mercy and grace, invites us to travel by the lantern light of those around us, and share our light with others. We've never been made to do this alone. What a privilege.
If you would like to hear the recording of our conversation, you can listen to it here. If you're in New York City and would like to be part of a community of Jesus followers who would love to share our lanterns with you, please come visit us at Trinity Grace Church, Westside.
Sara & Matt