There is a three-mile course, of sorts, that winds around the golf course and through a neighborhood nearby. Around lunchtime, I am prone to stretch myself up out of my writing chair and walk that three-mile course with my earbuds in my ears. Usually, I am listening to a podcast.
Well, not too long ago, I was going through a rough patch. It was a bad enough patch for me to ask some girlfriends to pray for me.
“So, it’s come to this? Prayer?” one of my dear, sweet sisters chided me when I’d finally let it out that I was struggling.
Why do we wait so long? Why do we think it’s so very valiant of us to suffer through, alone?
God has seen fit to give us to one another to love and to encourage and to hold hands through the darkest nights.
At its worst, this dark rough patch had me in my bed, unable to see the light and convinced that hope was a cruel joke someone had played on me. I was fearful and anxious and sad. I wasn’t sure I believed in God anymore. I wasn’t sure I believed in anything at all. Wise and strong and faith-filled people have known darkness like this, too. Wise and strong and faith-filled people have known and loved people who are on this road.
I am not a doctor or a theologian or a life coach or a counselor. I am a writer. So, consider this a story, rather than a prescription. Because, one day, as the dark was slowly giving way to Light once again, I remembered that three-mile route and thought I might just have it in me to walk that course that afternoon. I found my sneakers — they hadn’t been worn for weeks — and pressed the earbuds into my ears.
Holding my phone in my hand, I began a search for the latest podcast episode, but instead I found a gospel radio station I’d created for myself and I pressed my thumb against the little sideways triangle that we have all come to understand means “Play.”
It took awhile for me to adjust; in the same way our eyes have to adjust when we’ve been in a dark room and someone barges in and flips on the lights.
A heart and soul accustomed to the dark is skeptical of hopefulness. But, somewhere around the second mile of my afternoon walk, the vocalist began to sing the reminder that “praise will confuse the enemy” and I thought, perhaps, he might be right.
As it turns out, however, the regular, normal, conventional acts of praise seemed, in that moment, beyond me. My voice was too dry and weak for a shout of praise. My hands hung at my sides, unwilling to clap out a few beats of praise. I was barren of tears, having — it would seem — used them all. No prayers formed with the beating of my heart, and even a whispered expression of gratitude seemed to require far too much effort. Besides all that, “regular, normal, conventional” praise seemed trite and empty and insincere.
But how about a cartwheel?
Would a cartwheel count? I tested the weight of the idea in my mind and it felt so much more like light than darkness. What if praise is a cartwheel? What if praise is putting two feet on the ground at the beginning of the day? What if praise is tying up your shoelaces? What if praise is taking this breath right here . . . and the one that comes after it, like a steady tide of the very smallest vestige of hopefulness, gently rolling itself beneath the soles of your aching feet? What if praise is whatever is the only thing you can muster when the darkness has closed in around you?
And what if that breath, or shoelace-tying, or cartwheel-turning praise is the smallest mustard seed of faith, buried in the darkness when the fallow season wraps around us and makes the Light so hard to see?
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I have walked, and some days will still walk, that deep, dark road that you described. It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never been there. I find, however, that the braver I become in sharing that struggle, the more kindred hearts I find. I had never thought about praise confusing the enemy, but if he has many tricks up his sleeve, can I not have a few God-given strategies up mine? I love the visual of praise being a cartwheel or even the simplest act of tying our shoes to step out into the light. This was also a great reminder to set aside my self-sufficient self and let others lift me up when the road gets dark and scary…this really spoke to me…thanks!
Joanne Peterson says
Kristine Brown MTY says
Deidra, I have a special place that I like to walk, too. Something about it reconnects me with God and opens my mind to him. When I go for that walk, the writing ideas start to flow. Could praise be a cartwheel? Yes! I absolutely agree with you. And sometimes taking that one step forward or one breath is all we need to feel God’s presence with us. Great word to start off the week. Thank you!
Wow, thank you so much for putting into words how I have felt in the past during my darkness. I lost all hope, wondered where was God, was afraid to believe anymore because I didn’t even hear His voice anymore. I asked friends to pray because I couldn’t anymore. Their prayers were like medicine to an unconscious person, I didn’t know they were helping but they were. I felt so alone thinking I was the only Christian to feel this way. God meet me in those moments even when I didn’t feel Him, he was there with me one foot in front of the other. Also, giving me those around me to lift me up in prayer. Thank you for your profound post. You don’t know how much it means to read this. ~ Toni
Oh mercy I can relate!! Your comment is also a blessing to me! I’m in a dark place now wondering when God will come through for me,please lift me in prayer I am in need of financial help ASAP! Thanks
Beth Williams says
Please help Pat come out of her dark place. Make her feel your loving arms surrounding her and whisper loving/healing words to her. Shower her with healing, peace and contentment!
Beth I sure appreciate your prayers Thanks!!
Thank you so very much!! He brought me out!!
I relate so much to this. In the dark days I remind myself that The Lord wants me to get up and start my day every morning. If I wake up in the morning he still has a purpose for me! But I have to get up…
Marina Bromley says
Such good words… Good points. I have always felt critiqued by always asking for prayer – but more because of the who I ask to pray (people I perceived and valued as friends – though they may not have seen me in that same level of friendship) or how (social media driven). I’m learning.
And I can’t do a cartwheel for my life, but I know the feeling of praising looking like getting out of bed in the morning, putting one foot if front of the other, or the putting on of shoes, etc.; sometimes the painful, simple acts become quiet spiritual disciplines.
I think it was Rich Mullins who asked “what if spiritual disciplines includes folding your clothes every day, or mowing your neighbors lawn?” (Paraphrase mine.)
Deidra, thank you for your transparency. I’ve had days where praise seemed impossible. Days that were dark, and I questioned why God allowed certain things in my life. Questioned who I was as His daughter and why He’d allowed the things He had in my life. When He seems far away, those are the times it’s hardest for me to praise.
And this thought: “Why do we think it’s so very valiant of us to suffer through, alone?” Yeah, I’ve been there. The enemy loves isolation.
But I like your thoughts that some days, praise is just getting up and getting into our day. Sometimes praise is inviting a friend to walk with us through this journey with her prayers. Thank you for the reminder that God gives us friends to encourage us, to pray with us, and to remind us how to praise Him.
” What if praise is like a cartwheel? What is praise is tying up your shoelaces?” Deidra, thank you for sharing this part of your story. Your words were such a blessing to me this morning. It is what I have felt on many dark moments. The light of hope gets muffled; I wondered at times, will the fog of this ever lift? When you mentioned that praise is tying up our shoelaces that connected with me. It’s what reawakened my hope because at the time, I didn’t feel that I had much to offer God or others, but I could walk. I could ask friends to pray for me. So appreciated your words!
Hannah Kallio says
Deidra, your idea that praise is a cartwheel is very Biblical! One of the Hebrew words that we translate “praise” means “spin”. And it’s also connected to God’s design for lifting us out of depression. The word that we translate “joy” also means “spin” or “frolic” (like a horse). So you’ve hit on an eternal principle here: The physical act of spinning, dancing, or cartwheeling actually helps us experience joy, and brings joy to God as we praise Him with our whole bodies.
I’m there now, not feeling like myself and at the end of my rope, barely hanging on. I have sisters in Christ who pray for me. God has been faithful.
Bless you sister! We’ll pray for each other I’m also there now!!
Thank you Pat! May the Lord show His Face to you today!XOXOXOXO
Thank you Jeanine! Praying!
Christine Gaeta says
I’d like to share a poem with you. its called Glowing Through the Dark.
it is based on the scripture 2nd Corinthians 4:6 which says: “For God who said let light shine out of darkness made his light to shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
When the sun goes down and pain and doubt is all around. God’s light goes on glowing, He’s glowing through the dark. As the candlelight disappears in a cloud, the sorrows of this world envelop as a shroud. As I close my eyes in surrender to the night, I remember the Lord who is eternally light. The light of Your presence that lives in my heart awakens the hope that goes on forever glowing through the dark. Awaken the hope that lies sleeping within. let the light in my heart blaze brightly again. Lord sweep the sorrow away like the tide. Let love hope and faith come with the sunrise. Lord you are forever glowing in my heart, even when all appears to be dark Your glistening light shines like the stars against the blackness of the night, awakens the hope that seems so far out of sight. and then I realize, you were there all the while although I could not see, for the darkness was surrounding me. Your light sweeps away my sorrows like the tide. faith love and hope come with the new sunrise. and then I realize, The light of your presence that lives in my heart awakens the hope that goes on forever glowing through the dark.
I think it’s time for me to go in put on my tennis shoes,tie up the laces get out there and walk!
Thank you for sharing ….
thank-you Christine for sharing this with us today.
blessings to you,
Hi Christine, this was so very beautiful. Keep walking and clinging to Jesus. Xox
You as well as the other encouragers have been a blessing. Thank-you for encouraging us all today.
Thank you …I have shared this and also the response with the poem below….sure helps to know we are not alone. God bless and keep us feeling better.
Christina Gaeta’s poem…thank you.
What a relief to read this today. I have been without joy for a long time now. I still get up in the morning and read the Word..I know this is what keeps me. I always feel I fall so short of praise and worship. I have not been in church for some months now, and being honest I don’t want to be. I have been saved for 28 yrs. and have never not loved being in church. This post gives me some hope.
Well sir! God is good! I feel the same I’ve just never did church like so many others,an I have to admit I don’t miss it.We are the real Church and when God is ready we’ll be in church.
Praying for you today, Connie. Even on the hard days, keep holding on to Jesus, praying, and reading Scripture. He is with you. Xox
Great Encouragement! For the longest time I felt like asking others to pray was a weakness! I also learned from your post that the way we praise don’t have to fall under the Way they do it! Wow! God knows I needed this! I’m in a mess but nothing God cannot handle,please pray for me I’ve been living off my bank draft for months now! But that has ran out my rent check bounced and my loan payment too. So I’m in need of financial help ASAP! I got my notice today rent needs to be paid by the 18th or else consequences,consequences! Thanks so much for the Encouragement and your prayers!
I prayer that your needs will be met.
Thank you so much I do appreciate You!
Beth Williams says
Prayers that God will send a super financial blessing your way soon! May you not be evicted and be able to stay where you are!
God bless you my sister!!
Thanks Beth I sure need prayer!!
Betty Draper says
Yes, yes, yes. I have come to not fear those dark places, too many of them to not know He will bring me through , I will once again rise to the Son. It will pass and when it does I am a richer daughter of God, tested and tried, better fit for the Master use. Our part is to exercise our God given will and turn that cartwheel. Great post.
Susan G. says
I’ve had my share of ‘dark days’…and I found Jesus was always there. Praying for you!
Lani - the flowerlady says
A friend sent me this link and I’m glad I clicked it. We have been in a dark place for a very long while. Today being a little darker, I was going to go to bed but decided to click the link. Your words could be my journal, the writer, the walker, the doubter…so much the same. Today was a bike ride with my dog in the basket, being a friend who is also in a dark place. Thanks for sharing these words.
Beth Williams says
A heart and soul accustomed to the dark is skeptical of hopefulness. That was me in 2014. I felt “out of sorts” and couldn’t see the light of day. My “dark” time came as we moved my aging dad moved into assisted living & had multiple medical issues. All that affected my job & my hubby lost his job & had to go back to hospital on a “Crappy” shift for a while. Now he has a decent job, but not sure if he will keep it–two large medical companies are considering merging. I thought I was ok at work for now, but no. So I put in my resignation. I am looking for/needing a different job.
God has seen fit to give us to one another to love and encourage through the darkest nights. I thank God for the gift of friends who encourage me and allow me to encourage them during their trials. I feel it is my God given gift!
Blessings 🙂 May God bring you up out of the darkness and into the light!
Nina Ruth says
I am here, in this dark place now. Thank you for so beautifully articulating what I cannot find words for. Now I know that I’m not alone. A weight has lifted.
so here I am in “that” place. prayers -holllow, life-lifeless, don’t ask “friends” for help…cuz they’ll try to pep me up…and I don’t have the energy for it. so I ask you .