I am 28 years old and I still believe in Santa Claus. (Don't laugh.)
When I was eleven and well past the age one should know the truth, I heard him. In my house. On Christmas Eve. No, this was not a burglar; this was the man in red himself. I can't be one hundred percent sure that Santa came in my bedroom and knocked on the wall to make sure I was asleep before distributing the goods under the tree, but I have a pretty good hunch.
When I was told as a little girl that Santa wasn't real, I secretly kept believing. And even in my twenties, I still try and stay awake on Christmas Eve just incase I hear the pitter-patter of hooves on my snow-covered roof in the night.
I'm a believer.
Convince me of an idea and it sticks for life.
In fact, my entire being is based on belief. Belief that a God I cannot see created me, loves me, died for me, and wants nothing more than to see me succeed. And I've never questioned it.
So when a season of depression hit like a brick to the head, I never thought belief would be the first thing to go.
Not necessarily belief in God, but belief that God was still good and still had good things for me. I was lost. Buried in my own shame and I didn't see a way out. I didn't think I deserved a way out. And to be honest, I didn't want one.
I think it's in those dark moments--those moments of doubt that you have to make a decision. Am I going to stay here or am I going to reach up and start climbing out of this mess?
I'm not a climber. Shoot. One time I convinced a group of friends in Africa to take me climbing to see beautiful waterfalls. I had heard about them and wanted to see them for myself. And, there may have been a cute guy involved. There were seven in total--waterfalls, not guys--and with each waterfall, the climb became increasingly more difficult. I think I made it to waterfall number two when I just couldn't take anymore. I was heaving and sweating and not dressed for the occasion. We got to a point in the climb where we had to scale a ridge and collectively lift the strongest person up on to a ledge above us who then would pull us up one by one.
As I crept to the back of the line in hopes of getting out of this adventure (although I knew there was no turning back), I looked over and there lying next to me was a dead goat. As my climbing companions reached out for my hand, I may have uttered the words: "Just leave me to die with the goat."
They didn't. And I survived.
Climbing out is hard and taking that first step of reaching up feels impossible. The darkness hurts and the isolation that comes with it seems easier than dealing with the issue. You feel alone. You feel like no one will understand. And you wonder why God's abandoned you.
The truth is--He hasn't. He's just been waiting for you.
I love Psalm 42. The Psalm that speaks to your downcast soul. The Psalm that call you out when you are living a life that God never intended. A life of self-misery. Psalm 42:4 says, "These things I remember as I pour out my soul…"
In my darkest night, I stayed up late crying out to God, "I need you. Where are you?" For hours I pleaded with Him to take away my pain. He didn't. Not right then, anyway. He did it slowly. And, He started with a cardinal.
Since I was a child, my mom has said cardinals are sign of hope and good things to come. When I saw that red bird, I smiled for the first time in a long time. Like a deep-down-to-the-depths-of-my-soul kind of smile. As I poured out my heart to God, He reminded me of His goodness--His goodness in a little red bird.
With each new day, He showed me promises of my past. Promises that He has kept and promises that He still has for me.
There's a popular worship song that uses similar phrasing of Psalm 42. It says,
"I lift my hands to believe again. You are my refuge you are my strength. As I pour out my heart, these things I remember. You are faithful God forever."
Sometimes all it takes is reaching up. Reaching up and trusting that He's still God. He's still in control. And He still has good things.
It's out of our desire and our need that belief begins to flourish again.