This past week, I finished up my latest prayer journal. Closing in on my thirteenth spiritual birthday, I felt led (as I normally do) to start revisiting the last year, its pages, and the pages of some of those that preceded it.
It’s incredible to see even the changes that occur between the first pages and the last pages of such a record. I started the last book after the death of my second grandfather (see “Completion,” from 2007), only months into my marriage and a job that would cultivate my heart for God’s church and its mission.
I was learning how to be a wife, a leader for a college ministry small group, to resurrect relationships that had been broken by distance and hard things, to figure out what it meant to follow Jesus in the workplace, and so many, many other things. Life was opening before me.
But so was depression. Since starting its pages in 2007, I battled two full rounds of depression: One centered on the death of my grandfather that first fall and continued by some family issues the following spring, and the second centered on the very quick failing and death of the first of my grandmothers just before I began my graduate work. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, depression is a war that has been waged in the depths of my soul for more years than I am proud of (see “A different kind of happy,” from 2010), and I finally emerged from this last round in a much different place – ready to fight to the end of myself to not find my life in its grasp ever again.
In the midst of this, we were witness to many weddings, several years of family celebrations, a few lovable oddball roommates, the addition of one and then two precious pups to our home, an insane amount of new babies in both our blood and church families, injuries, new jobs, answered prayers, times of intense waiting, a new home and, most recently, struggles with infertility.
Life has changed a lot, but there is one thing that remains: The God who rescued me that lonely night in April thirteen years ago, who loved me in spite of my depravity and raised me up in the promise of salvation – He still remains the same. This reality is lasting. It does change things. I am proof of that.
And now I’m feeling a bit old, I suppose. Thirteen is not a small number. I remember writing for saLt about my fifth spiritual birthday and thinking it was a huge deal (“Six,” from 2005 is an updated version of that; and if you don’t know what saLt was, I’m sorry you missed that piece of my life, though I do wonder sometimes if Laura and I both just had the same vivid dream for a year).
Thirteen! That’s half of my age!
Yet, it’s starting to make sense that this is my life. The last vestiges that I had hidden away from the blinding and purifying light of Christ’s grace have finally been brought into the open to be sifted through – and the incredibly breathtaking thing is that, for the first time, I think I’m finally understanding what it means for Christ to satisfy every deep-seated desire of my heart.
From here on out, my life has not been mine in the majority – what a good and glorious thing! That means I can look back on this growing collection of these crazy little books I began writing in so many years ago and see my life mostly marked by the grace and leading of an incredible Savior.
And in those pages, I find hope to move forward. At every step, at every juncture, Christ has met me, challenged me to be sanctified, and answered my prayers. In one way or another, every prayer I have ever put before His feet in these books has been set before me – and the most beautiful ones were the ones that didn’t turn out in the least as I expected.
Lately, my stones of remembrance have been placed a bit closer together. Life has been hard. My dependence upon God for the daily stuff has been critical. The first half of this last journal was written over the span of roughly three and a half years, while the second was composed in little more than a year. My need for grace is growing, especially as I continue to be more aware of the daily battle to keep my life free from the bonds of depression – something that can so easily be physically, emotionally, and spiritually emptying of all that is inside me.
So the tipping point is starting somewhere different. For the first time, I am abiding in the love and provision of Christ – mostly because I can look back and see it in these little books, these little books that urge me to move forward in the knowledge that He will continue to love and be faithful in what is to come next.
I wrote “Sweet Dependency” nearly seven years ago, just a week after my sixth spiritual birthday and two days after my dear husband suffered my then-rejection of his pursuit of my heart. This last year, it has become the anthem of my heart, as I re-wrote it on the piano (including a different bridge, from “Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night” by William Sleeper) and have sought to understand its meaning in a much different time.
The chorus is what gets me, though. I think I understood then something that it has taken me seven years to come back around to – the truth that only God has a right to claim my life, He who bought it with His own blood, and who offers me redemption and newness of life:
May I be brought to my knees, in sweet dependency in You alone.
For at the end of this time, if I still think that I’m mine,
Please break me and bring me back home.
(“Sweet Dependency,” ©2005/2011 A. Kate Grinstead/A. Kate Reynolds)