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Dark Threads in the Tapestry of Life

By Janet Seever

“My life is but a weaving between my Lord and me,” penned an unknown poet in “The Weaver.” The third and fourth verses read:

Not until the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why
The dark threads are as needful in the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.

I understand dark threads. I’ve had many in my life.

No starry-eyed bride imagines her beloved any different than she pictures him as she says, “I do.” She cannot see how mental illness can insidiously affect every aspect of life, choking out hope and joy, strangling relationships. No mother lovingly holding her newborn baby can anticipate the heartache of a wayward child. Yet these things happen.

My goal was to have a happy home and Christian marriage, but within the first six years of marriage, I discovered it wasn’t working. At first I tried to apply what I read in the “how to be happily married” books, but my husband was often feeling down, his dark moods showing up as anger. Wasn’t I trying hard enough to be a good wife? By this time we had two children.

We had times of genuine happiness, but the dark moods showed up more frequently as the years went on. At times it seemed like I was living on a roller coaster, which really left me puzzled. What was happening? I honestly didn’t know.

On our sixteenth wedding anniversary my husband told me he was leaving me. He expected his family to make him happy, but he just wasn’t happy, so we must be his problem. He wanted to get away from us, but was too confused to figure out a way to do it, so it never happened. Months later, his doctor gave him medication for depression, which helped greatly for a while.

A few years later our teenage son went through a rebellious stage. Struggling with anger and depression, he tried to drop out of school several times each year of high school. I was caught in the middle as the peace-maker between a confused, angry son and a depressed husband. I wrote in my journal, “My heart aches—for a son struggling to grow up, for a father who doesn’t understand him at all, for a son who hates his father for not understanding him, for a father who hates his son for hating him.”

One time I remember wanting to stand on a high hill somewhere and scream at the top of my lungs. Not that it would help the situation any, but it was an expression of the unbearable, mind-numbing emotional pain I was feeling.

During those difficult times, I turned to the Lord. I poured my heart out in my journal, sometimes writing prayers, sometimes just recording the pain. At other times my cries to God were wordless. Tears seldom came, but often I felt numb.

In the midst of all of this, the Lord brought wonderful, encouraging friends. Sometimes we would talk, at other times my friends would just let me talk while they listened. They always let me know they were praying for me. One special friend would send me a card every few weeks with a caring note inside. She would clip out encouraging poetry which she would put into her cards. I taped every one of those cards into my journal, which became much more like a scrapbook.

“I want so much to lovingly assure you that my husband and I care and we hurt with you,” my friend wrote in one of her cards. “The Lord knows how much we can take and knows our breaking point. You’ll surely be refined as gold when you see His answers and until then keep on trusting Him.” What a blessing her encouragement was to me!

The Lord constantly brought reassurances to me through His Word. The Bible says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:18 NIV) and “When I am afraid I will trust in you” (Psalms 56:3 NIV). It also says that He will never leave us or forsake us: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8). The Lord has proved those promises over and over again in my life.

So what has happened to my family over the years? With a lot of prayer and prodding, our son finished high school in 1997. Last year he graduated from a university with high honors, and holds a full-time job.

My husband was finally diagnosed with bi-polar mood disorder in 1997. He is doing much better now that he is on a proper balance of medication, which is monitored monthly. It’s a lifetime illness, so life will always be challenging. He has always been able to hold a job, for which I am thankful.

Our daughter has been a bright spot throughout the difficult years. The Lord has brought much healing to all of us in the past few years and has united us as a family in a way I never thought would be possible.

And what about me? I still journal, but the frantic prayers and deep emotional pain no longer fill the pages. The Lord is good. I thank Him for what He has brought us through. He has taught me many things in my life, and now is allowing me to encourage others who are going through similar difficulties.

The tapestry of life will bring more dark threads in the future, but I know God is with me. He gives me grace for the journey—one day at a time.

©Janet Seever 2003. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Editor’s Note: Readers, watch for Janet’s sequel next month, The Sun Still Shines.

The mother of two adult children, Janet Seever is a writer who lives in Calgary, Alberta, and writes for Prayer Alive magazine, a publication of Wycliffe Canada. A year after this story was written, her husband had a severe stroke. (See “The Sun Still Shines). Her articles and stories have appeared on Internet and in various publications, including Celebrating the Season, Expressions of Gratitude, Opening the Gifts of Christmas, and Grace Givers.