For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
– Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
For Everything There is a Season…
These are words I’ve heard in Church, Bible studies, funerals, and even at my Baccalaureate ceremony if I remember correctly (and believe me, that was longer ago than I care to admit). I always thought I understood it. A time for everything, even the bad stuff. As a farmer’s daughter I knew the crops wouldn’t grow forever. They had to die so we could reap the harvest. It was all inevitable. But I had the most inspirational thought today, seemingly out of the blue, and I felt called to share it with you.
You may remember some of my previous writing here at the Well. A few years ago I blogged about our struggles to keep our son, Aidan, alive and healthy despite battles with doctors, our insurance company, and nature itself. I’d like to report that he is now a healthy twelve-year-old who thinks having a mom who used to be a teacher is a fate worse than death now that everyone is homeschooling.
A Time to Break Down…
Depression was always something I had battled, but during the years that Aidan’s life was one long hospital stay after another, anxiety disabled me. I felt like I was battling some unforeseen, overwhelming force that was trying to steal my son’s life. Despite 110% of my effort I was losing. And it didn’t end when he grew bigger and stronger or even when he could breathe without oxygen. Even as he joined his peers in school, though with his own nurse to accompany him, there was an evil dragon breathing down my neck. I felt if I let up my hyper-vigilance, even for a second, that dragon might snuff the life right out of him.
It was right about the time that I thought I was strong enough to share our story through writing that the nightmares started. Horrible nightmares about dying in the worst way possible: drowning, terrible violence, even being eaten alive by seemingly placid zoo animals. I would wake up screaming, gasping for breath, and drenched in sweat. Eventually, I decided that I had to stop writing about my experience, but the nightmares didn’t stop. Even medication didn’t help.
A Time to Heal…
Finally, I opened my ears long enough to consider the fact that I might have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I immediately thought about those in active military service who put their lives on the line daily to defend our freedoms and the freedoms of others. Certainly, my sacrifice paled in comparison to that.
Doing my best to truly listen, my counselor again explained that trauma comes in many forms. “When it comes down to it, do you think a parent…any parent… would rather have their own life threatened or their child’s life threatened?”
I answered the obvious, “I know from experience that I’d rather have my own life at risk.”
Her silence spoke volumes. At her suggestion, I started EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) counseling. It is used to help PTSD victims’ brains reprocess trauma and “file” it into a new place in the brain. My hope is that life might be manageable again. Maybe in time some laughter and joy can seep into the constant battle with anxiety.
A Time for Peace…
Just today I was listening to The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyes. As the main character read the verses from Ecclesiastes in the book, it seemed as if I was listening, truly listening, when I had a new realization. God gives us a promise in that passage. Yes, we will experience mourning, weeping, and breaking down in our lives, but we will also experience laughter, new growth, and dancing. I had to pause the book and marvel over that. God promises us that the sun will rise another day, that joy will come again. Maybe one day I’ll even feel His loving arms wrapped around me and I’ll be able to relax in his embrace, letting the posture of hyper-vigilance melt away. A time for love and a time for peace, He promises. That time might even be tomorrow…or today! That’s one promise I’m choosing to hold on to.
The line “a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing” seems to have new meaning in this time of social distancing. Just like His other promises, God assures us that a time for embracing will again be upon us. 😊
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of new ears to find the promises you give us in your word. May I also be blessed with new eyes to see the fulfillment of your promises.
A personal note from Cindy: No one needs to battle depression or anxiety alone. Arming yourself with His promises and the gift of faith, you may think that you can slay any dragon. I truly hope you can. However, if you ever seem to be losing the battle, please reach out to a health professional. I hold on to the promise that joy and peace can again be found. And if you are walking alongside someone who is battling depression or anxiety, you may be struck by how illogical their thinking is. You’re correct! Mental illness doesn’t always take logic into account. Please be as kind and supportive as you would to a person whose body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Your loved one’s brain may not be chemically balanced, but it doesn’t mean they are anything less than a person created in His image and likeness.
Copyright 2020 Cindy Clefisch