A cloak of heaviness hung over my house.
There had been one thing after another after another for a few weeks now, and I felt like I couldn’t keep my head above water before the riptide of my life dragged me down again. Working two jobs, trying to start my own business, attempting to flip my first house with my mother, trying to get everything in order to leave town for 2 weeks, and my 97 year old grandmother being taken to the emergency room after repeated falls left me weary and worn thin.
My boyfriend was under intense stress of his own, having quit his job to start his own business and trying to juggle a long distance relationship with me amidst the pressure of a start-up. Every time him and I felt we were seeing a break in the clouds and that we may finally may be able to move in the direction of him being able to move and us finally be in the same location after being long distance for a year, the proverbial rug would get pulled out from underneath of us. Again. We were both exhausted and drained after months of intense pressure and stress.
These stresses led to poor communication between my boyfriend and I. We simply weren’t hearing each other, and our hearts were lost somewhere in the shuffle. What would typically be easy, light conversation between us felt like led. Both of us felt our needs weren’t being met. Instead of gazing into each other’s eyes, it felt like we were turning our backs to each other and walking away in defeat.
The weight of everything heaped upon my shoulders, I went about my day wearing a black cloak of heaviness.
My mom was cooking dinner and her pandora mix blared from her bluetooth speaker. I found myself exclaiming, “Oh! I love this song!” when Hall & Oates “You Make My Dreams” came on. The flash mob dance to this song in the movie “500 days of Summer” pierced my mind, and I suddenly began to silly dance in the middle of the kitchen. My Mom, who had been battling heaviness too, joined me. The music blared, and we danced. We danced like no one was watching, and the heaviness broke. The dark clouds rolled away and the sun began to shine through. The black cloak I had been wearing slinked to the floor.
The entire atmosphere shifted by choosing to step into joy for just a moment. Once the moment had passed God reminded me of the passage in Isaiah 61:3: “To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” It is the garment of praise that breaks the spirit of heaviness. God has created it this way- that praise should cast off the heaviness that intended to keep you bound. When life’s burdens are dragging you down one of the best things you can do is put on worship music and sing praises to the God in whom there is no lack. Perhaps when you start worshipping God you won’t feel like it, and you’ll barely be able to mouth the words to the song while tears are streaming down your face. I encourage you to praise out of obedience to who God is, and not based on your circumstances or how you feel. Most of the time when I offer this sacrifice of praise in the moments I don’t feel like it, and I continue to press into His presence, my emotions will eventually follow my obedience, and my body will eventually follow my heart. What began as me being able to barely mouth the words to a worship song will end in me kneeling before a most Holy God, undone at His beauty, grace, and goodness, raising my hands to the One who paid it all for me.
God used this simple example in my life to remind me that the garment of praise truly breaks the spirit of heaviness. Next time the heaviness is weighing us down, let’s choose to praise Him and cast it off!