Psalm of 23 | Kimberly Hardy

“Lord,” I prayed, “what is this Lord? Please, help me.” Like never before in my life, God seemed so far away, and so silent.  For my previous 22 years, He had spoken peace over me in the middle of the night.  During my high school years and my college days, God had shown me His glory through beautiful fellowship with Him in my personal devotional time every morning. He had revealed messages in His word that filled me with so much joy and peace. Again and again, God had shown me so much favor with academic success and social acceptance from teachers, mentors, and peers. From the age of 16 to 22, I had learned just how much my God, my Heavenly Father, My Abba loved me.

…But as I awakened night after night in physical pain and mental anguish, I wondered: at the age of 23, was I too old to be His baby girl? “Lord please,” I cried silently. He seemed to say nothing. No unexplainable warm embrace that I had felt many times before when my heart was hurting. No heart-soothing words from His word. My prayers seemed to hit the ceiling, shatter into a thousand pieces, and descend with the jagged edges of condemnation and fear. “God, where are You? What did I do? Please take away the pain” was the cry from my aching heart. As the days passed, the darkness closed in. I began to hear sinister voices speaking to me at night. I began to ruminate on self-harm and ending it all. Worst of all, no matter how much I prayed or cried, it seemed I could not control my terrifying thoughts.

My physical appearance began to change from a healthy physique to a gaunt look. My once bright smile turned to a worried frown. My kept clothes and hair became disheveled. My sisters in Christ took notice and pressed me to seek help. I was confused by their insistence that I go to the university hospital; I saw the anguish as only a spiritual battle. By the grace of God, two sisters came to my home one day and drove me to the mental health area of the hospital. After receiving an initial screening, the doctor asked me with a concerned face “Would you like to be admitted?” I laughed nervously thinking that she was simply joking. I looked from her to the two women standing by my side. No one laughed. I protested, assuring them all that I did not need to stay in the hospital for multiple days. I was allowed to go home that day. But the symptoms did not subside.

After seeing three different doctors during the spring of 2007, I finally had a name for my sleepless nights, racing suicidal thoughts, and consuming fear. Bipolar…mental illness… “But,” I thought, “isn’t that for… other people… ?”

A few months after my diagnosis, I found myself talking to God: “Father, is this what You’ve thought of me my whole life- just damaged goods?”  The relief of being able to sleep at night with the new medication was dampened by the fact that I had gained nearly 30 pounds in just a few months. The medications caused extreme weight gain, increasing the risks of diabetes and death. Not to mention that these meds cost $400.00 a month; unimaginable for a graduate student’s budget. “Lord, who is going to love me –fat and crazy?”  “Oh, Lord,” I said, as tears rolled down my face night after night.

Through this time, I doubted God’s love for me. Fighting bitterness, I arrogantly demanded to know why I was sent this storm. I prayed feverishly throughout the day. I read my Bible compulsively before bed.  I attended worship services twice on Sundays, women’s Bible study on Tuesday night trying to prove to God that I was worthy of His love. “Lord, please, Lord please…” I cried at night. He seemed silent.

I wish I could say that I soon renewed my strength and trust in God when Christ whispered…, “My grace is enough for you, Kimberly.  My grace is sufficient for you. For My strength and power are made perfect and show themselves most effective in weakness.”  I wish I could testify that within a few months or a year or two, I was willing to say , like Paul, “I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities,  that the strength and power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9

The truth is, however, that I was so hurt and resentful, that is took years to truly open myself back up to our All-Loving God. Oh the enemy had used that dark time to inject fear, doubt, and anger towards God. And I had bought the lies- hook line and sinker. Yes, I was attending church twice a week, singing His praises, praying often, reading my scriptures daily, giving my tithes and offerings, serving in church ministries and serving the community. On the outside, it looked like I was a lover of God. But on the inside, I was not allowing Him into the deepest parts of myself. I was not trusting Him when I prayed. I replaced His intimate comfort with idols. Emotional eating caused me to balloon to being over 100lbs overweight. Binge-watching TV, relationships with men, sexual impurity, and trying to find my self-worth in work were the gods to which I ran for comfort.

God’s loves for me, however, never ended. He continued to pursue me through His word, Christian songs on the radio, the kindness of Christian people, and through a Christian therapist. Truth seeped into my heart: He had certainly done nothing wrong. He had certainly been gracious and faithful. It was I who did not remember the most important truth: He loves me. No matter the trial or triumph that I face, God loves me.

As the years have passed, God has revealed to me that the bipolar diagnosis, the weight gain, the struggles with diabetes and the dark days that came with these have all held blessings. I believe that my pain protected me from making a decision that would have been more detrimental to my life than the diagnosis. I believe that my pain revealed my purpose, to help others with compassion. And I believe that my pain has the power to bless the lives of others. This devotional was birthed from the pain. God is never silent, no matter what we feel. This 25- day meditation are the love letters that He has spoken over my soul. I pray that they bless you and draw you into the Him presence. May you know deep down within every part of you that God loves you! Yes, He loves everyone, but He loves you. You are His BABYGIRL- always and forever.

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