184. An Explosion of Pink

A tree has stood outside my apartment all winter: an empty, skeletal tangle of bare twigs and branches. There were brief moments when this tree was lovely—its intricate silhouette looked quite nice against the rising sun—but it seemed bleak and ugly most of the time.

One day, about two weeks ago, I was astonished to glance out my window and see this:

002This transformation happened almost overnight. A skeleton of weathered wood had burst into a fountain of blossoms, swaying in the breeze and sending petals fluttering to the ground. Something dead had exploded into bright, beautiful, exuberant life.

So yeah, that’s what’s been happening with me.

April was not a good month. My work schedule, ever as capricious and unpredictable as the clouds, changed repeatedly, forcing me to switch between daytime and nighttime shifts. I suffered from severe sleep deprivation. At work, I was compelled to handle unexpected responsibilities on short notice. I lost my appetite. My recurring struggle with depression became a constant battle.

All the while, my obligations and commitments kept coming with the unstoppable regularity of ocean waves. I felt about three seconds away from a breakdown on at least two occasions. To paraphrase the words of Lincoln, it seemed impossible for me to remain as I was. I could recover or break down, but I couldn’t keep going.

Then, around the beginning of May, things changed with the suddenness of a tree exploding into bloom.

My depression disappeared as quickly as it came. I managed to get some sleep. My appetite returned. Work became easier and my schedule eventually returned to normal. (I doubt it will stay that way, but I can hope!) I watched a couple of movies and some YouTube videos and actually enjoyed them.

I’m taking a break from work this week, starting tomorrow. Fueled by cookies and coffee, I’ll travel north to watch Iron Man 3 with my uncle, discuss Abraham Lincoln with my grandfather, play Mario Kart with my cousins and generally have a good time visiting friends and relatives.

My life is looking better and brighter by the day.

I knew the tree outside my apartment wouldn’t stay bare forever, but I didn’t think it would resurrect so suddenly. I definitely didn’t expect it to be pink.

I was sure my life would get better eventually, but my recovery still astonished me. I certainly didn’t expect it to be so overwhelming.

My sufferings are trivial compared to those faced by other people in the world. I have enough to eat. My family is awesome. I have no desire to hang myself, read the Twilight series or end my own life in any other way. I’m ridiculously blessed even through difficulties.

All the same, my difficulties last month seemed quite bad enough, thank you.

It has been endlessly comforting to look back over those dark weeks in April and realize they were not without purpose. Unlike poor old Job, who probably never knew why God made him suffer, I can see at least some meaning in last month’s trials.

Never before have I had such an appreciation for not being depressed. Freedom from anxiety and hopelessness is something I no longer take so much for granted. I’m getting more sleep and worrying less about the future.

More importantly, I learned last month to stop blaming myself for bad days. Neither bad nor good days are usually my doing.

This makes my life less complicated. I don’t have to figure out what I’m doing wrong on bad days or right on good ones. I can simply persevere through the bad and be thankful for the good, giving God my best through every kind of day. My best will be better on some days than on others. That’s all right. I may be inconsistent, but God’s grace is not.

The tree outside my window has faded to dull green. My life will sometimes seem hopeless and difficult. I’m not giving up. After all, every desolate, skeletal tree may soon become an explosion of pink.

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