Tucked into the corner of the bedroom, cross legged on the floor with my journal and Bible sprawled open. Cup full of colorful pens and a stack of index cards to the side. Bright sticky notes in various shapes and sizes. The light brown bookshelf caddy cornered filled with romance novels and inspirational stories. Golden light shines brightly from the antique lamp. This is my retreat, my safe haven.
The monster has captivated me hostage for the past couple weeks. Drawing me deeper into an endless hole, like my feet slipping away in gooey quicksand. Trapped with no escape. Crawling out of bed has become more difficult and nights have grown restless. My emotions walking on a tightrope, ready to break at any given moment.
After long, stress filled work days I come and rest comfortably in the safety of my cozy corner. The single place where my undivided attention is centralized on Jesus. A place where the Holy Spirit is alive and present and the enemy is unwelcomed. I’ve cried tears of thanksgiving and also desperation in this space. Worship music has floated effortlessly in the environment but I’ve also basked in the utter silence. Only allowing conversion between my Father and I here. Freshly painted finger nailed hands lifted high absorbing His presence. Kneeling in prayer and pressing into The Truth. This is my “war room.”
Lies cultivated by the enemy fill my already vulnerable brain. Unworthy. Alone. Unwanted. Broken. Impossible to love. Each slowly stripping away any signs of life. The fear of shutting down struck my mind. This is what the enemy wants but I can’t allow myself back down a treacherous trail. Jesus is my lifeline.
Clinging to Him, I reach for my purple pen ready to spill my mind and heart out. Something catches my attention. Looking down, my tattoo seems to move to the forefront of my mind. My mind easily gets distracted and sometimes it’s hard to remember the truth behind it. An alluring butterfly on my right wrist. The same wrist I would attempt using a stick or scissors to numb the pain momentarily. An elegant design created by my art therapist at the time. The body, a semicolon, representing the life I chose to continue living. Wings spread to remind me that the life of a caterpillar was nice but living as a butterfly is incomparable. The most valued part of all, the words “I love you more” curve up the one wing.
I love you more. Four simple words with an immense power. At times the monster’s voice is louder than usual distorting my thoughts and reality. These four words speak truth and wisdom. I remember that my Heavenly Father loves me more than I can imagine. My sisters and family pop into view. All of my treatment team from Atlanta. The sweet circle of sisterhood and even daily interactions with complete strangers. A concoction of such a diverse yet pure cluster of souls reminding me of a wonderful gift.
Various bible verses pop in mind. Jesus’ love like a warm cup of tea and a thick snuggly blanket on a dreary winter morning. First, Romans 5:8. He has loved me at my darkest. In the black hole, vegetable state; He still loved me. Zechariah 2:5, “And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within.’” Jesus protects and shields me from the enemy. Also, Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Wow. Let all of that sink in. Jesus takes me exactly as I am. Flawed yet still worthy. He loves and takes me for who I am, the authentic Maddie Rae. Not what society thinks I am or what the monster tries to tell me who I am. Jesus takes the raw, no makeup, messy bun, cluttered brain Maddie and still loves me for more than I can fathom.
He loves me more.