The sermon’s three points were simple enough: “1. Satan’s desire is to destroy you. 2. Your opportunity is to overcome. 3. God’s promise is His presence.” I had even edited his sermon manuscript into an article form.
It wasn’t until one long February (it is not the shortest month of the year for some of us) when the winter slush, the interminable gray Great Lakes skies overcast my own spirit for twenty-eight days, that I realized I was in some icy solstice of the soul, looking my adversary in the face. With a start, I realized—he did want to destroy me, and through my destruction wreak havoc in the lives of the children, and ultimately damage my husband’s vital ministry. His desire was to destroy me.
I can’t remember exactly when the depressions began, and by “depression” I mean a debilitating gloom of the psyche which renders one nonfunctional. I am not referring to vague feelings of discontent, or to having a lousy mood. I mean waking in the morning and barely being able to lift one’s head from a pillow, feeling the heavy hood of some medieval falconer blinding my soul’s eyes, his rope tethering my emotions. I mean facing the day with dread because the minor functions seem to be impossible. Making beds and doing dishes and combing one’s hair are vehicles for a confusing desperation. The made bed looks lumpy and welted, corrugated with wrinkles. The washed dish is spotted and sooted, the dishwasher slime. Combed hair is a web of cobstrands, dusty and lusterless. The mirror reveals splotches and ugliness.
Why try? Don’t do it again. Everything you turn your hand to is failure. You are a failure. Your very breath is stale, stale life.
There truly was a pit of darkness into which I was descending.
It seems amazing to me now to realize that my own husband and family were unaware of my descent. Yet unless one has experienced desperation, it is easy to overlook the symptoms in others.
When the mood had done its work, I was released, springing vitally into life, into the sweetness of each breathbeat, into the glow of the children’s eyes and the beauty of my husband, into the world of people and activities. The darkness was forgotten and I learned to keep the despair to myself, because I didn’t know how to speak of it, nor did I realize where it was tunneling.
Early in our marriage a pattern seemed to emerge. Married at 18 to a man seven years older, I stepped from the shelter of my family to the shelter of my husband. There was little time for balanced personality development; my adult maturity had to occur within the confines of our marriage, and within a few years my growing room was crowded by cumulative pregnancies and the responsibilities of child-rearing. I began to experience crying jags, inarticulate effusions of frustration that left my husband helpless and myself drained.
“I can’t do anything well!” I would weep. It was true; a little bit of this and a little bit of that, detours into crafts, but no discipline into art. Stepping from the refuge of my father’s home to the refuge of my husband’s, there had been no time to develop to develop specialties, and I lacked the personal fortitude to become anything’s master. This was an area of vulnerability of which the crafty prey-monger took note.
Through the years I began to experience periodic, though unpredictable, visitations. Something was gnarling my twentysomething-year-old being into ugliness. Admittedly, there was a part of me that loved these orgies of self-pity, so in a way I opened the door of my spirit to a malignant artist painting his meaningless impressions in my inner chambers. Seemingly without cause he would come, this lover of despair, stretching his stays from afternoons to days, until he embraced my soul for weeks before going. Finally on a desperate February day he wearied me fully, and somehow David’s words, which I had heard so often, broke through the clouded gloom.
To be continued … Blog 1-53. See how Karen applied her own husband’s sermons to a brutal battle with the enemy despair.
Other projects involving Karen Mains right now:
Karen Mains is a bestselling, nationally award-winning writer who is the Co-Director of Hungry Souls ministry. Consequently, Karen has become a spiritual coach to thousands who look to her work for its authenticity, passion and practicality. Right now, Karen is developing a template for a 3-Day Retreat of Silence, as well as working with a team to develop program for the training of retreat leaders for silent retreats.
Karen will also be teaching a mentor-writing-format teleconference course on “Personal Memoir Writing.”
She also continues to be involved in Global Bag Project efforts, including hosting “Bag Parties.”