A friend shared this scripture from Isaiah 61 with me at last night's group meeting - and though I'd heard it a million times before, this piece was illuminated to me:
".....to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair....."
How easily my spirit despairs. I looked the word up in my concordance and it means to [smolder].
smol·der /ˈsmōldər/ verb: burn slowly with smoke but no flame
The despair is a slow burn - and unchecked it will eat.me.alive. The smallest thing can trigger deep feelings of worthlessness, the tiniest injury can unearth catastrophic old wounds. It takes constant effort to remember that I am no longer trapped in an abusive marriage or childhood. It takes intentional choices not to react with the same defensive behaviors - which can range anywhere from lashing out in fear to scurrying into the shadows like a skiddish animal. It is taking time and conscious effort to trust myself, others and God.
beauty for ashes, beauty for ashes, beauty for asheskeeps rolling through my mind. Some of the despair has been necessary - to allow this old life to burn away. These ashes are all that is left of my old life - and yet I often hold them in fists clenched tight. The crown of beauty may be preferable to most - but to reach out for it means to let some of these ashes spill out of my hands.