Bouncing back

In the darkness of the soul, only the shadows of shame, grief, hopelessness are visible. Profiles of black against an unattainable light. The future appears as shrouded as the moment you are in now.

Time and again, I've sighed, resigned myself, and stepped back into the light. The living light. Grace is holding me by the hand, and mercy the tug of life's current around my ankles. You are never alone, He whispers. Each day is sprinkled more and more heavily with happiness. Laughter with my therapist. Sharing a joke with my kids. Yelling and screaming at my daughter's softball game, totally abandoned to the moment. A card full of encouragement from a friend of few words.

Each dark time is shorter. It's a massive amount of work, moving the mountain of those inhibited and unhealthy ways of coping and building a new mountain worthy of the foundation of Jesus' sacrifice. The old mountain spews it's shame and lies across the landscape of my life as the dynamite of hope blasts holes in it's edifice. It's as if she's saying, I won't go down without a fight. And who is it that speaks from that dark mountain of self-neglect, self-loathing, stubborness and sin? Evil is what speaks from there. The explosion of the dynamite of hope is God's thunderous answer to my own self-doubt. SHE IS MINE, He screams at the stubborn rocks. 

I am a woman of words. I carry my books in a bag that says, "I am God's idea. Please be nice." A talismen against those who would cruelly crush me again. Even the new letters etched on my shoulder are a forever tribute to this time of ultimate trust and testing: "Fear not. Only believe, and she shall be safe." (Luke 8:50) I finger the Latin - noli timere crede tantum et salva erit - remembrance of the pain of the tattoo gun piercing flesh a good analogy of the pain of the past 3 years.

Each time the sky grows black, I see the light at the end of the tunnel quicker - as the night grows deeper, the light grows, too. A light that is faint in full sun is brightest in the darkest hours of the night. He leans down and tilts my chin upward, reminding me that I am His daughter and protected and beloved even when it doesn't feel so. The light is blinding. Beautiful. Bewitching.

What am I building this new mountain of hope out of? I have a list of all the skills I've been taught using dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Skills like these:
  • Turn your mind (repentance)
  • Teflon mind (refusing to listen to evil)
  • Half-smile (a cheerful heart doeth good like a medicine)
  • Accumulating positives (count your blessings)
  • Coping ahead (stewardship)
  • Mindfulness (do not worry about tomorrow)
  • Wise mind (seek wisdom)
  • Accepting reality (trusting an all-knowing God)
DBT has quite literally been used by God to save my life. If you are struggling with relentless self-doubt, depression, PTSD, or other mental health issues, you can find a trained counselor here. DBT was developed by a psychologist who spent most of her teens and 20s in mental institutions without any relief. She developed the skills herself and then began sharing them with the world. You can read Marsha Linehan's story here. DBT is one of the most proven therapy techniques available today, rigorously tested for multiple conditions using randomized controlled studies. For an introduction to what DBT is, read here. If you are interested in DBT, but wonder whether the skills taught are Biblical, please contact me and I will send you a list of Bible references demonstrating the Christian foundation for these skills.