Sunset Reckonings

You can’t capture a sunset.

Just like you can’t capture the God glimpses and the almost-breakthroughs and the intimate moments of clarity.

You can’t capture a sunset, but you try, and you take the picture but the pixels are never enough, it’s never fully there. And so sunset pictures come with disclaimers that declare it was better than this. Redder than this, deeper than this, more than this. I couldn’t capture it- the disclaimers make that clear. Because we want to share what we can, but we want everyone to know there was more.

This is my sunset story, the one I can’t capture, that can’t be fully taken in or fully translated, but the camera clicked and the fingers click the keyboard, and I try to relay image but it comes with a disclaimer- it was better than this.

My mind is often a PTSD battle ground; a depression-soaked, confused, muddy, anxious, triggered mess. This plays out with a side dish of spiritual wrestlings, doubt, and warfare. It’s a chaos that’s always with me in some partial way, but at other times it seems it’s all there is.

Like a heavy blanket that smothers me, there’s times the depression is thick- I am so profoundly sad seems to be the only complete thought I can grasp in such episodes.

This hit me a couple weeks ago, and I laid in my parent’s guest bed, in the room I grew up in, and felt the weight of it, the extreme darkness, the suffocating mental whirl. And the spiritual doubt sneaked in- what if… what if I’m not… what if He isn’t…

And in the chaos, God gave me this thought of hope- “I wonder how He’ll get me out of this.” Because even though the depression and anxiety are always present in some small way, these heavy, harsh attacks are ones I’ve come in and out of (though when in it, it is nearly impossible to remember the “out”).

How will He get me out of it this time?

And in this time of brain dysfunction I couldn’t remember the dream I had the night before.

I had dreamed the night before about a sunset- and one of the amazing parts here is that I dreamed something pleasant and beautiful at all, because if I do sleep enough to dream it is almost always nightmares.

But I dreamed about a sunset- in the distance, a stunning sunset; and in my dream I gleefully told everyone near, “Look at that sunset! Look at that, that work of God! That proof of Him and His beauty!” Because isn’t that what we need in the darkness, the glimmer of light that confirms He is and He is good and He is beautiful?

But I didn’t remember the dream, the dream I had not yet given much regard to anyways; I just laid in bed with snapshots of sorrow pounding me and finally it was time I had to get up and function with the dysfunction because it was time to do Christmas with my family.

It’s funny how the happier times can press on the grief.

But it was Christmas, delayed for togetherness, in February, in Pennsylvania with my family, my parents, and brothers, and their families. Nieces and nephews and long awaited for celebrations, and I got up and began procedures.

And the next hour was what may seem like a lot of happenstance, a cluster of circumstances, that if even one had changed would have changed the changing of me.

But after that hour, of life happening, of plans shifting and details unfolding, I found myself standing on a Pennsylvania hillside with the sky painted around me and tears streaming down my face.

The most beautiful sunset I can remember ever beholding, spread out over the mountains, and my standing there in that exact moment of brilliance, and that dream brought to mind, and knowing that dream was a gift. The God who knew I’d sink to despair yet again, knew He’d get me out; He’d give me a dream and then paint the whole sky for me, moving a list of circumstances to plant my feet right there, right then, not a moment sooner or later to miss it. And I look at the mountains and I know He made them and He can move them and yet would He, would He move my plans around and color the mountains for the love of me?

And I stand there cold wind whipping against my wet face and it’s freezing yet I’ve never felt warmer, and my family is waiting in the pulled over car because we had to stop it because I had to get out and be here, and “Look, look!” I tell them, “Look at what God has done!”. And even in this moment I know I’m not capturing it, can’t grasp it, can’t fathom how amazing this God moment really is. I know even then, it is better than this. Deeper than this, more than this.

And I also know in that moment of trying to capture the weight of the glory and feeling the lifting of the weight of the heavy, I know it will come again, I will sink again, I will question again, despite the seeing and the believing, the clarity will be lost to confusion and the doubt will creep.

Oh for grace to remember sunsets and to ask the better question, how will He get me out of this?

Because He will. He will get me out. He will get me out.

So under the suffocation of the blanket of despair and with the whirling questions and despite the sadness that is so great I can’t even cry, I will look to my Rescuer and slyly smile inside, a smile not of happiness, but of hope. And I will wait and I will ask.

I wonder how He’ll get me out of this?

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