When I was a freshman in college, my worst enemy was science, and the most evil science of all was biology. On a really good day I might be able to be talked into tolerating chemistry or even physics, but all my politeness escapes me when you put a preserved frog in front of me and ask me to pull out its tongue to see how long it is, or when my teacher serves me a plate of dead worms and asks me to dissect it with a couple of straight pins. So it goes without saying that the only reason “Environmental Biology” was on my class schedule was because it was a mandatory class. I tried to tell myself that since it is environmental biology, we might just be looking at things like weather and not have to take any body parts out of dead animals. Halfway through the semester, I still didn’t need to dissect anything so I figured I was safe. Still, I had to work to find positive aspects of the class, and on one particular night, I didn’t have to work that hard (at least at first) to find a positive. The class was doing a field study in the park a couple blocks down from my mom’s house. That meant I didn’t have to drive thirty minutes to class, and I didn’t have to leave home that early. When I got to the park and received my instructions however, I would rather have driven two hours than do what my teacher wanted me to do.
“Now I want you to walk down to the edge of the pond and start digging with your hands and collect any insects that you find into this cup.” The woman was actually serious about this! With our hands?! You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m the one that uses the kind of glue where my hand is a foot and a half away from the glue so that I don’t get my hand sticky or dirty, and now you want me to stick my hands in the mud to find those horrible loathsome crawlers? However, I was in college now, and grades mattered so I held my breath and did as she asked. The first few minutes were gruesome, but as the class went on, it wasn’t as bad. Now don’t get me wrong. It was still bad, just not as bad.
Afterwards, I made a point to forget about that night, or at least pretend I forgot about it. Then one night I saw a huge bug on my bedroom wall. Normally I would have screamed bloody murder (yes, even in college) and run downstairs to make my brother kill it before I would even set foot in my bedroom again. This time, I just took a tissue, grabbed it, threw it out, and went back to what I was doing. I had seen and picked up so many insects at the pond that they don’t have the same effect on me as they used to.
I am reminded of that change in me regarding insects as I think about what God has done in the past few months. If you have been reading my blog from the beginning, you know that God has performed some marvelous victories on my behalf and brought me through several breakthroughs. I remember my church cheering when I told them about my victory against suicide and the thrilled smiles on the faces of those who care about me when I told them God had defeated depression and the pain resulting from the sexual abuse I endured as a child. A few weeks after I’ve given those testimonies of victory however, I’ve often sat in stony and painful silence (or sometimes wailed in agony) over a suicide temptation or a horrible bout of depression or anxiety. Sometimes God would bring me to another victory, and I would blog about it, but the enthusiasm (both mine and my hearers’) would wane as we think to ourselves, “But we thought she was already over it. How do we know this isn’t just a ‘good spell’ until the next crash comes?” I know I may be putting thoughts in your head, but I know these thoughts have definitely crossed my mind, and maybe, if you’ve been along for a good portion of the journey, it may have crossed your minds as well. That is what I’d like to address today.
Remember my field study at the pond? Did that experience guarantee that I would never see another insect again? Of course not. I have seen lots of insects more frightening than any I saw that day. Sometimes I still gasp and cringe as I pound it with my shoe, but the bottom line is I go after it instead of run from it. This is not because I’m all of a sudden braver than I was before that field study. I just saw the insects for what they were – a lot smaller than me, and very ugly, but very defeatable.
After I got my hands dirty and dealt with the ugly insects of depression and suicide, it didn’t mean I was no longer going to see those insects again. It just means that when they do show up, even though I gasp and put up a noisy (and sometimes clumsy) fight, I now see them for what they are – a lot smaller than me because of Christ in me, and very ugly, but very defeatable. That is the real victory. Even though the emotional crashes still come (I had an ugly one today) and they’re painful, I can thank God that in his wisdom he has chosen some healings to be a process instead of an event, and that in his infinite love and power he has defeated all my enemies and and put them under my shoe, I mean feet. This must be why they call the Christ in me thing the hope of glory!