Ever try to hide hurt behind a smile? "Fake it till you make it?" I can remember a season in my life when I was determined to be happy.
I had experienced some profound disappointment and heartbreak, but I wanted to stubbornly cling to my silver linings. I tried to be intellectual and count all the the things I had going for me. I wanted to find the good in the bad and just make it a part of my experience going forward. I tried throwing myself into my work, my passions, and my friendships.
I was terrified to acknowledge how much I was hurting and grieving. I thought it made me ungrateful and a failure. After all, I live in the land of plenty, my life is filled with relationships, and I have this faith that is supposed to buoy me up in rough times. I didn't feel that I had any right to be as down as I was. Admitting that I was depressed and discouraged was conceding defeat to a battle I didn't want to admit I was fighting. And shouldn't my faith be stronger than that anyway?
I wanted to be a good Christ follower and live as a person of hope and joy. And I thought I was pulling it off pretty well. Sure, I had some dark thoughts and emotional moments. But I told myself that I get to choose how I will face each moment, and I would choose the path of peace and happiness.
I had myself convinced. I thought I was putting on a decent show.
But I wasn't fooling anyone around me.
After a time (a fairly long time actually), I confided in a friend and told them I was struggling. I admitted to being not just depressed, but weary and frustrated as well. And as the words started pouring out, I was finally able to put a picture and a description to all the "stuff" that had just been swirling around inside.
Devil's Snare can't stand light. And I needed the help of a friend to shed the light on what I was feeling. I had to let go. To drop the mask and the pretense and fully acknowledge my hurt and pain. Once I did that, the tentacles loosed their hold and I was able to pass through to the other side. Now, just to be clear...it didn't magically wipe everything away. But it was so refreshing and empowering to not pretend to myself. And my "Regina-ness" came back quicker than I ever thought possible.
I learned my lesson. That picture of Devil's Snare has helped me to fend off other dark times. I'm not afraid to admit to having a down day now and again. Inviting light and truth into those days helps more than I can say. So for anyone who may be fighting a similar battle, let me encourage you. It's ok to be pulled in two different directions by warring thoughts. Devil's Snare can take many forms. Don't get caught up in the fight. Even if your mask fools the mirror, it's not really fooling those who love and care for you. Acknowledge it. Accept it. Shed some light, and let it go. If you don't fight it, and if you allow light and truth into the situation, those snaring tentacles will flee and you'll emerge unscathed (though probably changed) on the other side.
Psalm 18:28 "My God turns my darkness into light."