I made it through the retreat. It was an amazing success, that had nothing to do with me or the team or the speaker, and absolutely everything to do with God.
Friends, Jesus showed up there! There were people prayed over. There were people who's eyes were opened, and hopefully healing that was started as well that weekend.
You know, looking back on it now, I can see that God started dealing with and healing brokenness in my life, too. I just didn't see it that way till just this second.
Friday night I had to fight off anxiety and depression. Through mis-communication, I got there late with all the sound equipment, etc. After finally getting set up, I had time to "throw together" the prayer room. Thankfully God provided a perfect place.
Just as I got it done our speaker got there.
As we had been communicating throughout the past couple of weeks, usually via email, she knew I was dealing with depression.
Once she was settled and came back up to the main level, she pulled me aside and asked how I was doing, and wouldn't take "fine" for an answer. :)
We settled into the night, and got through the ice breaker, worship set and speaking portion. After wards, we had had snacks and people sat and chatted (while I, the fire bug, lit a fire in the huge fireplace) pulled out games, and generally had a lot of fun.
When I went to bed, things were still going strong and I wanted to stay up, but knew I needed to sleep if I was going to be of any use the next day in facilitating things.
I forced myself to sleep, before the depression overcame me and I cried myself to sleep.
In the morning, I forced myself awake, and went out to the commons area. I bundled up, went out and stood on the deck in the still dark morning. It was beautiful and quiet and perfect, but my eyes weren't seeing it then. I couldn't see anything through the storm of tears I was trying to hold back. I grabbed wood for the fire, came back in, and started up the fire place again for the day.
I couldn't settle in and read, or pray or journal, so I finally got up and started to putter in the kitchen till it was time to start breakfast.
During breakfast I got to sit with our speaker. The whole table of us gals talked and shared, but eventually she and I got into a private conversation. Much was shared there, but her listening and sharing got me to the point of breaking down my guard. I finally shared how poorly I was doing that morning.
Folks, I didn't even want to lead worship that morning. I wanted to go back to bed. I tried to hide the depth of it, but I know she saw it. I also know she prayed for me, though not face to face right there.
I did manage to lead, and kept going through the morning - even singing special music - going to the prayer room to pick up requests and pray for them.
I broke down in the kitchen before lunch, when the others of our team were out and everyone was elsewhere.
Not just cried.
The dam burst.
The noise of the fans and stuff in the kitchen disguised the gut wrenching sobs, that threatened to bring me to my knees right there.
It really was God who pulled me back together.
I couldn't calm myself on my own.
But once I did, it was all I could do to keep from detaching completely, in self protection. Old coping patterns die hard, is all I have to say about that.
Surprisingly (or not) God got me in on a conversation where I could help speak into a dear sister's heart and life, during our lunch time.
I was drained when I came home, but God gave me the heart and energy to pour into that same sister who needed more of Him that night.
I got up Sunday morning for church, raced in and unloaded the sound equipment, then ran upstairs to run our warm up for worship team. As I waited later for the church service to start, a new friend came over to talk and see how I was doing, because she knew I had been in a very bad place in our small group the Thursday before the retreat.
I couldn't even look at her. And I couldn't stop shaking. She pressed some tissue into my hand before she left me at the start of the service.
Our opening was fine.
The sermon was great.
Except it had me in tears. Surprise. surprise.
Then I had to get back up and sing. It was all I could do in my own strength to hold myself together, and it wasn't working. I begged God to keep me from falling over up there. It was only 3 songs. By the last song, I had to hang onto the outside edge of the pulpit to keep myself steady on my feet. I haven't been that shaky in a long time.
Then I had to pray to close the set.
Ok, I didn't "have to" other than feeling the Spirit prompting me.
You really can't ignore Him.
So I prayed and started to break down again. I barely finished the prayer audibly, and seated everyone, then fled the sanctuary to pull myself together, in time to come back in and cry through all of communion.
It was something about remember Christ's body, broken for me, topping off a weekend about brokenness, OF brokenness that did me in!
Gee. God knows how to do that too, doesn't He?
Somehow, though my cup was empty and overturned, and truly broken - when I needed to minister in worship and service - He filled me and used me, this broken cup - over the whole weekend.
After church, I got home, curled up in bed, and cried myself to sleep, like I had been wanting too all weekend.
It didn't feel nearly as good as I had thought.
It didn't really help either.
When I got to work in the morning though, God impressed on me that I needed to tell my two pastors in our staff meeting what was going on with me. When I did, at the end of the meeting they prayed for me, and though I worked through the full day, God was merciful and it was an easy day.
Late Monday night (a week ago now) I got an email from my friend Pete and his wife Donna, in response to my email to them. I ended up being able to get together with them mid-day on Tuesday. My pastor, the only other person at the church that day with me, agreed that I had to go, and caught the phone calls for me while I was gone for about 3 1/2 hours.
It was hard, but I was able to share where I was at, and only because God really broke through to me over the weekend. He broke through the self imposed isolation I had been in... even when I didn't realize till later that's where I was.
No one really knew where I was at or how I was doing, and God put a stop to that.
My friends helped me pin down some lies I have been believing. Ones that are familiar to me, and others that are new, that slipped in under the radar in the last stressful month or two.
As Pete said, I never really had the chance to process through them like I normally do. I identified them right at the get go, but got so busy and stressed that I forgot all about them... as the enemy would want it.
When they commented that they didn't want to see me go down the road I had been down 2+ years ago, I said that I didn't want to either. That I wasn't there, yet.
I think they could have done without the "yet" in that sentence. (I could have too, but needed to be honest that it felt like a very slippery slope)
I was scared at how low I had fallen into the pit of depression, hopelessness, despair.
But oh, our God is so good!
I got a full hour, at least, the next morning at work. In the quiet with no phone calls.
I was able to sit in the library by a fire (see a pattern here?!) and pray, renounce lies, announce and claim the truth, and generally spend a good deal of time in prayer and in the Word.
Though the depression didn't lift fully that day, in the succeeding days (especially as I look back from where I am now) it did lift a bit at a time.
I had a weekend away with my family, which I was not looking forward to at the beginning of last week. But now I have recovered more from the stress. I have reconnected with my family. I feel a bit more like me.
It is still way too easy for me to be overwhelmed. I am still having trouble prioritizing things. I am still struggling with depression (though not as thick and dark as before, and much more recognizable), and some major lies that are wanting to creep in there. It's one of those things, just as I feel like I am having some success on one front, the enemy is trying to outflank me, and come in the back door.
But today I had some good solid time (though shorter than I wanted) with God. It got me off on the right foot.
Please continue to pray for me as I seek to make healthy choices for my soul, and healthy choices for my body. There is a lot of opposition there right now. Like I said, the enemy is trying to use a back door to trigger more bad coping patterns and other stuff.
There will be more about that in coming days as I find more time to write, now that I am feeling a bit better.
Thank you for your love and prayers.
Thank God for how He used this weekend and my dear family of friends here to break me down! He broke my pride. He broke through my thick walls of isolation, where literally I was broken to pieces, and He is putting me together, yet again.