One door closes and another opens . . . or if the door closes go out the window . . .Recently my friend shared the message at her home church and titled it “Three Doors Down.” After listening to her practice run I began thinking about the idea that a door slams shut doesn’t mean there are no options. It just means that wasn’t the option God wanted you to choose.
So when I think about Ryan dying at 38 – leaving me behind with two young daughters – I wonder what the significance of that slamming door was. Ryan suffered from depression which ultimately means the WHOLE family suffered from it. Depression doesn’t just hurt the person who has it, it hurts everyone who loves that person.
The Thursday or Friday before Ryan died I was supposed to go to my parents’ to farm sit. Ryan had disappeared for the afternoon and was unreachable. A somewhat common occurrence when he was in a slump. On my own I had to get the children ready, get the small dogs ready, get myself ready, hook up the horse trailer and catch and load four horses. Yeah. No easy task there. I felt so frustrated. The kids were young and didn’t like being left in the house alone but at the same time I didn’t want them underfoot a large horse who was not feeling cooperative. The trailer door kept swinging shut so one of them had to hold it but then they would either let it slam shut (scaring both me and the horse crammed together in the small space left on the trailer) or just continue holding it open and the horse would just back right back off. On second though, maybe frustration is too bland a word for what I was feeling. One horse refused to be caught whilst the others banged around the trailer wanting to get a move on in that iron oven.
As I trudged to the bottom of the pasture in the heat tears of despair streamed down my face. It felt like a breaking point. I was keeping the family afloat and trying not to let others see how disabling Ryan’s depression was for all of us. I worried about judgement. I worried about scaring the children. I worried about Ryan. I really worried about my sanity! It is one of the first times I remember feeling prayer pulled aloud from my lips . . . “God! Please! Please don’t let me be alone in this marriage anymore! I can’t do it. I can’t keep doing it. I am tired. I am lost. I am beaten and overwhelmed. Please God!”
Those words . . . oh how I have played them over and over in my head. Eventually the horses, dogs, and my precious children were all loaded. Ryan finally called. I was still in tears as the vestiges of shattered nerves was wearing off. Of course he was sorry. Of course he couldn’t explain his sudden absence. Again. The next day he appeared at my parents’ farm. Jovial, tender . . . the man I married. The kids were excited. I was cold. I told him about my prayer that was compelled from me. I told him I felt like his presence was a sign from God that I was not alone. And then on the second night he was gone. I had finally felt able to go snuggle up to him with no chip on my shoulder. The bed was neatly made. His backpack nowhere in sight. Outside his car was not under the light.
I called. He was home. He said he thought we didn’t want him there. That we were having a girls’ weekend. He even told his parents that. For the life of me I can’t make out where that idea came from. He offered to drive back. It was 1:30am. I told him no. It was dark. It was late. There was no sense in inviting a car accident. Was that some kind of portent? I don’t know.
The next day I drove home. We talked. The roadwork delayed and frustrated me. I drove past him at a stoplight headed opposite directions. We’d catch up after his errand the girls’ dance. We both had plans to be at the same restaurant. He never made it. An evening car accident stole him from me.
Anger has burned my soul. The despair. The frustration. Not just for a moment this time but for months. And now thinking about slammed doors and doors of opportunity I must remember Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified; for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. I begged God not to be left alone in my marriage but I forgot to make sure HE was a part of it too. You see, we get so caught up in living that we forget that God is living with us. He is a part of everything we do. He didn’t slam the door, I did. I slammed it when I forgot to acknowledge God’s presence in my life, in my family, in my marriage. Now, without Ryan especially, I must lean on God even more for companionship; for someone to talk to; for someone to find comfort in.
When you feel a door slam upon your path ask yourself – “Did I slam this door? Do I need to change me?” I have found that it wasn’t God slamming the doors in my face but me slamming it in His. Each day now I will try to be “strong and courageous” knowing that God ALWAYS walks beside me and participates in ALL I do.