WAS just running through tomorrow’s message and penciling in last minute ideas when the most enormous happiness I’ve ever felt began welling up inside.
I mean, I’ve been happy before. I heard that final dismissal bell ring on the last day of more than a dozen school years. I nearly peed my pants in pure unadulterated glee when my grades were up to par and my dad said he was taking me to see Ghostbusters II.
There was ethereal elation when I was baptized and when I married Amanda. But then in between, life happens and it happens for every one of us. We experience it in all the various ways we do. We tap dance on the foggy mountain top and then we find ourselves flat on our back in the mud ten thousand feet below, unable to move a bone in our body, wondering if we’ll even make it halfway there again.
I’ve known superhuman happiness before. But the joy that’s raging in me – that’s been raging in me, is a deeper, more refined joy than I’ve ever known, a fire that seems to refuse to go out.
It didn’t happen instantly. It’s been an excruciating and overwhelming pathway. But tonight, I am winning.
As formidable as they are, anxiety and depression are losing and I am winning. It’s been nearly a year since my last panic attack. I can’t even remember when my last episode was. The techniques I’ve learned have shut down multiple attacks and episodes within seconds when they tried so hard to begin. The night terrors that used to torment me and wake me up screaming have been a thing of the past. Situations and things said that would have destroyed me as recently as a year ago now bounce right off and I walk away smiling, not even fazed. I’m even starting to be assertive and vocal in ways I haven’t been in years.
I’m winning and it feels so good. After being handcuffed and straitjacketed by this for so long, I’m finally getting to experience how good it really feels to exist day after day.
I’m doing what I love to do more than anything else. It’s actually happening. I get to study and teach God’s Word and witness broken people like me discover victory in Christ every single day. There’s a church on this planet that actually wants me to be their preacher, that actually believes in what God can do through me, that’s actually is crazy enough to give me half a chance. That loves us, that values us. That actually allows us to be, well…us.
Life is just as difficult as it ever was. The daily cross of discipleship is just as heavy and splintery as it’s always been. But there is a joy within me that hasn’t been there in so long and it keeps intensifying.
As I’m learning by the day, that’s what happens when you finally dare to cast all of your anxiety on Him and let Him transform your mind. Though growth and recovery is a perpetual journey, there is already evidence that I have a new mind.
Life ain’t easy. Nor will it ever be painless.
But the joy and fearlessness of God in you is the fuel that keeps the Christian machine running.
Will this present happiness wane? Of course it will. Most fires are snuffed out sooner or later. Are new overwhelming difficulties and tragedies on their way? Inescapably so.
That’s what I love about joy. Happiness goes away. But joy in the power of Christ is there regardless. That is what I will cling to.
Man, it feels good to learn and to grow and to soar again when your wings were broken for so long.
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Paul