People see me as an outgoing, upbeat, friendly person with a smile that lights up a room, but recently, I lived through a very dark bout of depression.
It all started with my last booking for my play The Story of Gomer at a small inner-city church not far from my home. As I waited to go on, I made the mistake of looking at Facebook. I happened to see a couple of my theatre friends posting about the wonderful shows they were doing with lovely sets and great casts. One was making a living at her craft. When my entrance music started, I put the phone down and tried to clear my mind. A child fussed as I made my entrance, and I began my lines, trying not to be distracted by people still up and milling about the very small church. Many people I invited did not come, but I tried not to think about it as I finished the first scene. The same child continued to fuss, only louder, as I re-entered for scene two. A lady in the front row offered foil sealed gum, or mints to the row behind her, while the woman next to her talked the whole time.
By scene three, the whole room seemed in an uproar, and the fussing child was now all out screaming and walking the aisle. Our tech suddenly stopped working for no apparent reason. People were texting on their cellphones right in front of me. In hundreds of performances , it was the only time, ever, that I was very close to stopping the show right in the middle.
Oddly, that church had their sound board set up literally one step away from me on the right, and that put my husband Rich very close to me where we were able to make eye contact the whole time. He knew it was a rough show for me, and if it was not for his encouraging glances saying, “I know it’s hard, but hang in there.” I never would have made it through.
After that show, I started feeling sorry for myself. I felt as though God had forgotten me. After over 13 years of hard work, of all that I had sacrificed, I felt I deserved a nice stage, and an audience who would listen to me and appreciate my talents. Why were my friends prospering in their productions, but not me?
I also allowed myself to wallow in self-pity over the fact that I could not make my living at my craft. Facebook followers know that I have a new career as a medical assistant, and although it is where God clearly wants me, having a full time job in a non-creative field breaks my heart a little every time I drive to work.
These thoughts taunted me, and I began to feel like a failure.
I was set to record a podcast with a good friend of mine on the subject of my drama ministry and the show The Story of Gomer, when all I can tell you is the darkness descended. It is very hard to put into words now, but a thick oppressive darkness came over me, and after a few angry words to my son, I threw myself on the bed and sobbed. And sobbed…and sobbed, uncontrollable, gut-wrenching sobs. Terrible thoughts came to me. Memories, my past, comments my husband made years ago, mistakes, taunts about my lack of beauty, talent, mothering skills. I didn’t eat or drink anything for a whole 24 hours. (Trust me, if I don’t eat, there is something wrong.)
My life began to mirror Gomer in my play where she leaves her husband and kids. I didn’t want to be a wife and mother anymore. I wanted to run away where no one knows me and just start over, not telling anyone where I am. I truly just wanted to die.
My husband didn’t know what to do or how to help me, so he basically just left me alone.
The next morning, I didn’t want to go to church. Rich brought Chris to church, then came back and said, “We are going to have church here, you and me, and we are going to have communion together and read the Bible, and pray.” So, that is what we did and I started to come out of it. Like slowly walking out of a dream, I was coming back.
Somehow,the next week, I managed to get to my friend’s house and record that podcast. I knew I had to record the show because Satan tried so hard to prevent me from doing it. Recording went well, and I looked forward to hearing the edited cast.
Several weeks went by, and I was still rather down. When my friend posted the finished podcast I was halfhearted about it, and waited several days to even listen.
On my day off, finally, I decided to listen. Laying on my bed, I listened to the Oppermom show featuring me talking about my ministry, what I did, and why I did it, and as I listened, tears started rolling down my face. I felt God’s spirit strengthen me, and assure my heart with the knowledge that the Lord didn’t forget me the night in that inner-city church, he sent me. That is exactly what the darkness does in the light, it writhes and stirs up and creates an atmosphere that is difficult to work in . He sent me and not another actor because I was the one who COULD.
I got up off my bed at the end of that podcast, and it was exactly like wrestling the gun away from your adversary and turning it on him, for I said to myself- not only was I going back into the very thing that almost go me totally down, I am going all in full force into the darkness. I am going to prison! (click here to listen to the podcast)
KY State women’s correctional facility is about an hour and a half away from where I live. I contacted the chaplain and we are set to minister there on August 6th. All the things I faced in the inner-city church I will face there. I have done Gomer in prisons three other times, and it is a tough crowd to say the least.
By the way I described the crowd’s behavior earlier in my post, you would think the audience was bored. It may be true for some, but I have seen it before when there is true darkness and sin present. The city I was in is deep in a heroin epidemic and has a long history of prostitution. I was in enemy territory, and it is a very chaotic atmosphere to try to present a program about God’s redeeming love. During my experience in prison ministry with this show, I have literally seen women writhe and growl at me, and talk back to me during my show with hateful and mean comments. But those same women, after the show, are on their knees weeping in repentance.
God forgive me for ever thinking I no longer wanted the ministry He has given me, or for not wanting to go to the places He sends me. Forgive me for thinking I deserved “better”.
So I ask you for prayers that August 6th, 2016 will be a tremendous time of deliverance for the women incarcerated, and that they will be freed of their past and know that there is a God who saves them and loves them.
And next time the enemy tries to use something against you, take it from him in the way of resisting to act on his lies, lift it up to God, and allow the Lord to turn it around and use it for good!