“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” Psalm 23:6a
I walked out of my very first counseling appointment and into some much needed time alone. I left that appointment with an incredible sadness. I had already known my road to healing would be long and painful, but the first hour I spent in the counselor’s office was the moment when there was no turning back. I remember my whole body feeling heavy with the knowledge that recovery was going to be much slower.
I had a picture in my mind. I was running and there was a storm coming like a wall behind me. As long as I kept running, the storm would stay behind me. That moment in the counselors offices was the moment I stopped, turned around, and began walking back into the storm. I knew it was going to be scary, but I couldn’t keep running.
Immediately after leaving the counselor’s office, I was able to take a time of personal retreat, I hid away. I turned off my phone. I didn’t connect to internet. I was still and quiet. I took time to breathe. I took a pen and paper and started to write down everything I wanted to say to God. At the end, I wrote a question. “Do I need to accept that pain and loss are going to follow me wherever I go? Is life just hard?”
As a part of the retreat, I went through Psalm 23. It is in this Psalm I found my answer. David talks about the Valley of the Shadow of Death. He writes about enemies who are real and present, but he doesn’t end there. At the end of a chapter I have read hundreds of times—one that I have memorized—is a phrase I was so familiar with I had missed its meaning. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
Goodness and mercy. I sat staring at those words for a long time with tears pouring down my face. Pain and loss would still happen. I could go through times of very real danger. Suffering would never be far away, but it was goodness and mercy that would follow me.
I felt something release inside of me. There was a tension that was almost instantly gone. In its place was hope. Hope is a powerful thing. That moment didn’t make everything magically better. Instead, as I turned and faced the storm of past hurt, betrayal, fear and shame, I knew goodness and mercy were following me and something beautiful was is waiting for me on the other side. I had received hope.
(You can check out the rest of this series here)