I did it. I made it through February. I know you must be thinking, And so? Well, let me tell you a story and you’ll see why it matters.

It was Tuesday, February 7th. I was heading home after leaving work early to once again be seen by my doctor. I’ve been battling my health for a good part of the last two months and nothing they’ve done for me up to that point seemed to be working. As I sat fitfully and annoyed that I was late for date night I thought about my birthday that fell the next day. Had I not been driving I probably would have fell to my knees and wept.

You see, it’s been a while since I could associate my birthday with anything good. There was no good reason to celebrate. My birthday was sandwiched between the due date of my lost son and the death of my dad. I thought I had nothing to live for during that stretch of February. In 2014 depression took such a strong hold in my life. I honestly didn’t believe I would ever see light again.

As I drove home on Tuesday the only thing that I could think of was pray. Not because I was upset. Or sad. Or miserable. Or that I needed help. Not because I was scared. Or alone. Or because anything was wrong. I wanted to, had to, needed to pray because I was struck with complete awe in how God works. I wanted to, had to, needed to pray because I was humbled that I could finally see light. I turned up my worship music and got in the presence of God because it was there that I finally realized I was free.

See, when my depression steered its ugly head after the passing of my dad everything went incredibly dark. When I say dark, I mean dark. I destroyed everything I knew that was right and good in my life. I purposely swallowed as much water as I could in hopes that I would drown. Every candle that was lit in the night for me I doused. Every life ring that was thrown for me to take hold I severed. Those that sought to help me I spurned. I allowed depression to cripple everything I was. It turned me into someone I would never be able to recognize.

My deepest regret was walking away from God. He cradled me in His arms when my parents separated. He carried me as a teenager while I struggled with the sexual assaults. He held me when I lost my first angel baby, and my second, through my last. He sheltered me when I was diagnosed with PCOS, Sjogrens and everything else the doctors wanted to give me. And yet, I looked at Him and thought I could do better. I looked at Him and blamed Him for every heartache that I harbored. And I refused to listen to anyone who tried to help me see.

In my darkness God continued to love me. He continued to speak and find ways to give me life, “My grace is all you need,” He’d say (2 Corinthians 12:9). No matter how many times I would turn my face from Him, God kept showing me love and love abundantly. He slowly chipped at the crack in my wall. Even when I wasn’t ready to allow Him in, even when I saw Him as the cause of my pain. “Come to me, Pearl. Bring your heavy heart and I will give you rest,” He would continue to promise (Matthew 11:28). No matter how much I pushed He continued to forgive me and reach out.

As I sit here today thinking of the last three years I cannot be anything but grateful. How many times had I comteplated running away? Self-harm? Suicide? I thought I had nothing to live for, nothing to hold on to. I am so embarrassed to admit how dark my life had turned. “Draw near to Me,” God would tell me. “There you will find mercy and grace through your time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) And I would, but not to find help but to yell, kick, and punch my anger towards Him. “You, God,” I’d say, “You were supposed to protect me.” Then I’d try to push Him farther away.

As I began going to church again in May of 2016 it was then that things really started to click. He would put people in my path that began to chip at my walls. Prayers. Standing in agreement. Being included. Laughter. No judgement. Friendship. As God worked through them something began to happen. “Even when you pushed Me away,” He explained, “mercy and grace was given to you.” (Daniel 9:9) My heart began to unthaw. I didn’t realize what was happening right away. But, I knew something good was taking place.

On February 7, 2017 it all made sense. Hours before my birthday, a day that brought so much pain the last three years, I was pain free. Did I miss Jackson? Of course. Did I miss my dad? Indefinitely. But, my heart didn’t break. I looked up as I drove home, “God?” I needed to know this lightness I was feeling was real. Funny how I still questioned the validity because I couldn’t see how I deserved it. During my drive home He said, “You called me for help and I healed you.” (Psalm 30:2) I just needed to allow Him to.

I spent my birthday celebrating with family and friends. My heart was full as I listened to the mPact group sing happy birthday to me not once but twice. Then my little Rainbows would do it again as my husband brought cake and ice cream to celebrate. I allowed God to fill my heart and I wasn’t disappointed.

I’ve grown accustomed to February being a crappy month. But no more. While I’ve had difficulties just getting through some days I’ve realized my Source. And this month I was able to take a step through every difficulty because I knew Who walked before me. My heart is quickened know what an awesome God I serve.

By the grace of God. xoxo