In uncertain times, we can become confused when the valley seems to keep getting deeper, the bottom nowhere in sight. This week, five authors will share five different valley stories. But I ask you to consider how each author was changed through the process and then you may share with each other and us your comments.
Bestselling novelist Roxanne Henke is such a fun lady. She is lovely inside and out and asks that you call her Roxy. Her most recently released novel is On a Someday. Like me, she is a speaker and a CLASS graduate too! Today she shares with us her own story of THE GREENING OF THE SOUL. Welcome, Roxanne, to Words to Go!
ROXY: Thank you, Patty. I’m so glad to be here!
PATTY: Roxy, your story goes all the way back to when you were very young, doesn’t it?
ROXY: Yes, Patty. After a seven year roller-coaster ride with cancer, my dad died when I was seventeen years old.
PATTY: So young, and so many things left unsaid relationally, I’m sure.
ROXY: When this all happened, I was at a stage in life when my dad and I butted-heads often (mostly because of my stubborn attitude) and didn’t apologize nearly enough.
When my dad died I knew he loved me and I loved him, but I was filled with guilt that I hadn’t shown him my true feelings the way I should have. The easiest way to cope with those feelings was to stay emotionally tough. I barely shed a tear for fear if I started crying I’d never stop.
PATTY: Tamping down is such an unhealthy practice. It’s often the default behavior in our culture but sadly the most toxic.
ROXY: I didn’t know how to grieve and so I didn’t. I simply pushed aside my sadness and went off to college. And then I dropped out. And returned. Switched schools. Dropped out. Well, you get the idea.
PATTY: Not only do I get the idea, but followed the same pattern myself.
ROXY: Fast forward a bunch of years. . .I was happily married with two kids. In the intervening years my best friend in the whole world died from breast cancer (at the age of 29). An Aunt died of cancer. An Uncle died of cancer. Another friend’s child was diagnosed with cancer. And my favorite cousin was, too. Cancer was everywhere and still I denied its effect on me. Until a lump on my daughter’s arm turned out to contain pre-cancerous cells.
PATTY: You must have been to the point of explosion having practiced stuffing for so long.
ROXY: She had a couple of operations and was finally declared “all clear.” She was fine, I wasn’t.
PATTY: There’s always a
ROXY: No longer could I suppress my fears and grief. . .time had taken its toll and I slid into a deep, dark place. “Depression” the doctors called it. As much as I tried to deny the diagnosis, I couldn’t. After a series of medical tests there was no other explanation for the deep valley I was in.
PATTY: Some say that men deny depression, but we women do too.
ROXY: I railed and wailed to God. Why was I so miserable? Why now, when my daughter had been cleared of a cancer scare, was I in the grip of darkness? There was no answer. God was silent.
PATTY: He always does that.
ROXY: I was left to trudge through the night seemingly alone.I spent many, many hours in what I call my ‘prayer chair’ searching for answers. Calling on God to heal me. Trying to ‘think’ my way, pray my way, out of despair. But, most days, my mind was so muddled, my thinking so fuzzy, that I found I couldn’t even pray.
PATTY: Wrestling, stage two of surrender.
ROXY: It was then, in that pit of emptiness that I understood there is a reason we are called to pray for others. . .because there are times when we are unable to pray for ourselves.
PATTY: Why I have assembled a little intercessory prayer team for my book and speaking ministry.
ROXY: I spent many hours sitting in my chair, mostly in silence. . .sometimes in tears. . .simply sitting in the presence of God. In all the turmoil I was feeling my time with the Lord was often the only peace I might feel the entire day. The lowest point in my life was when I felt the closest to Him.
PATTY: I agree. But how would we survive those valley periods without Christ’s vigil over us?
ROXY: Eventually, with the help of doctors, counselors, medication, time, and lots of prayer, I climbed out of that pit. At the time I was grateful just to be feeling better. I still didn’t understand “why” I went through what I did. . .until almost ten years later.
PATTY: That’s why we write.
ROXY: Yes, exactly. I sat down to write a book. A fictional story that dealt with the topic of clinical depression. As I was writing that book I had the sense that those words were the “why” that had eluded me. God had a greater plan for my emotional pain. . .He wanted me to share my experience with others going through the same thing.
PATTY: And that is when your writing and stories become ministry.
ROXY: That book, “Becoming Olivia,” has ministered to countless people. When I speak, I’ve had people come up to my book table, pick up that book, hold it in front of me and say, “This book saved my life.”
ROXY: Little did I know how God would use my pain, my tears, my words, to minister to others.
PATTY: But now you do.
ROXY: Now, many years later, I do. He had a bigger plan and I am awestruck to be part of it.
PATTY: And we’re so thrilled that you continue to write and tell your stories to others, Roxy. Thank you for joining us today, Roxy.
ROXY: I’m glad I had the chance to share, Patty. Thank you.
I have great news. Roxy is going to give away Becoming Olivia in the drawing Saturday. If you’d like to leave questions for Roxy to answer, please feel free. You may share your own stories, whatever you’d like. But do leave feedback so your name will go in the Big Straw Hat for Saturday’s Book Give.
Check out her website at: www.roxannehenke.com