When I was a kid memorizing Psalm 121 in Sunday school, I had no inkling that this little chapter about hills and such would one day rescue me from a dark valley.
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help, the King James Version begins. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
As a young adult, my church choir learned a song based on this text that fed my soul through years of infertility and waiting to complete an international adoption. The ensuing decade brought another adoption, a move to a different state and the regular challenges that come with mothering two active little girls. I was busy, but blessed.
Inside, though, all was not well. And that’s why I found myself in the shower one Sunday morning, somewhere near despair. To this day, I’m not quite sure how to describe it. I didn’t wish I was dead. I didn’t want to die. But some how, I didn’t want to be alive.
I hadn’t arrived at this disturbing place overnight, of course. For most of my adult life, my reproductive system has been a thorn in my side. Severe endometriosis mangled my insides and robbed me of my ability to conceive. And after adoption paved my way to motherhood, I began to struggle off and on with other symptoms of hormonal imbalance: fatigue, anxiety, melancholy, irritability, lack of focus, feeling overwhelmed.
These wreaked havoc on my spirit and certainly didn’t enhance the life of anyone close to me. But this—this wanting to stop the bus of life and get off—this was new. New and dreadful and terrifying.
As I stood there in the shower, the song that had so encouraged me before flitted through my troubled mind and I began to sing. Shakily at first, the words pushed past the turmoil in my brain and came pouring out my mouth.
“I … will … lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help … my help cometh from the Lord … the Lord which made heaven and earth …”
Over and over, tears mixing with soap and water, I lifted my voice—and my heart—to my only true Source of strength. And little by little, spurred by the mysterious working of Scripture, my feelings of deep despondency gave way, gently replaced by the peace that surpasses all understanding.
My internal struggles weren’t over. In fact, they would get worse before they got better. But, to paraphrase one of the final verses of Psalm 121, the Lord had preserved me from all evil that morning, and, to this day, He continues to preserve my soul.
This column originally appeared in the Kansas City Star.