Depression. There are days when it seems as if the world is coming to an end. You’re living on the edge. You feel like everything you touch is ruined. We’ve all had those days. The ones where you want to go into hibernation for several months.
A few nights ago, I wanted to crawl into bed, pull up the covers, and wake up to a different set of circumstances. I was tired of brokenness….my own and others, rubbing me raw at every chance. I was weary of being having to be gracious. Of forgiving. Of asking forgiveness for my own wicked heart. Exhausted from being so wounded and weak and human.
I heard my own whisper come soft and free, “God, I don’t want to be brave anymore.” He has heard me say that a thousand times this year…and I felt the weight of the world crushing out my joy.
This messed up world isn’t hospitable, is it? It breaks us and adds salt to our wounds and laughs at our dreams of peace and wholeness. There is no warmth. No courage, no healing…without HIM.
I sat there and wept. I cried for my own hurt and my pain. I wept because I am broken and the world is harsh. I wanted to breathe and all I could feel is the suffocating requirements, the to do list, and the glaring mistakes of my past. I felt small and swirling on a planet where no one sees me. Swirling like the snow outside my window.
Then…like another whisper, these words are dropped into my heart. “So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9, HCSB)
I felt the giving up part.
I’ve been here before. More than a hundred times this year. Sometimes more than once in a day. Depression hanging out at my door, waiting for an invitation to come in. To swallow me whole. I’ve lived with a cloud of sadness hovering over me, thick and threatening.
King David always seemed so dramatic to me…and weepy and complaining. Then I hit rock bottom this past year and the Psalms were like reading my journal. My heart bled those words, line by line. Somehow David didn’t seem so weird anymore, he seemed like the kind of guy I could get. I clung to those Psalms like it was my survival…and sometimes it was.
Depression was not one of the things I had ever faced before 2016. I’m not a fan. Still, it came back again and again, begging for a home. Life had some turns and twists that I wasn’t expecting…and I lost someone to cancer that I had come to love very dearly. The aftermath sent my emotional stability spiraling out of control. I couldn’t get my balance. I couldn’t seem to get a grip on my new normal.
There were many days I would pack my schedule to overflowing and not stay home much. If I kept super busy, it helped keep my mind off the pain. I couldn’t even string together a decent sentence some days. I lived in mental fog. Clouded thoughts. Deep grief and sorrow. The depression was debilitating. Then at night, I’d open my bedroom door and it would all come flooding back. The pain would envelop me. The hurt would be felt in every bone of my body. In the end, I couldn’t get away from the truth.
The truth was: I was broken. Needy. Desperate for healing. I was busted up. Wounded more than ever before. I felt invisible. Unseen.
Night after night, I’d cry myself to sleep. Begging for relief from the emotional and mental pain. Rest. Peace in the storm. Then morning would dawn and I’d repeat the same cycle over again.
How do you pick up the pieces of a life that seems to out of sorts? What does it look like to re-learn the basics? Where do you begin to find a new mission in life? How do you hold on when you feel the slipping away in your soul? The re-calibrating of life can be a beautiful and broken mess.
I’ve had people ask me how I made it through…and the answer? He made me brave. I couldn’t conjure up courage or manipulate myself to “get it together”. I literally couldn’t do anything but sit and cry, pray and read Scripture. So that’s what I did. Day after day after day.
I don’t even know how I made it through those long months. I have a supportive family, some amazing friends and great people at church…but even that isn’t enough to make you brave. It has to be Jesus. He alone can make us brave. We can only be courageous when we cash in ourselves and take on His strength in our own weakness.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 HCSB)
When it happened, I don’t even know. There were days when I would cry out to God the only words that I could…simply, like a child. “Lord, hold me. Hold me.” The truth is, I could feel my soul slipping and I wasn’t strong enough to hold onto Him. I was questioning…why? How could God be good and how could He really love me? Did He even see me?
I know there were days I would have the song “He Will Hold Me Fast” by the Getty’s on replay. Or “He’ll Hold You” by Selah. I needed those words. I prayed those words.
Suddenly, I NEEDED Scripture to make it through the day. I craved the truth to make sense out of the pain and pressure. Verses that were once only words on the page had become nourishment to my spirit. They were literally the key to my survival.
“We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed…Therefore we don not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18, HCSB)
There are a thousand things I learned through those months of agonizing pain and wrestling with God. I could write a whole series of what I learned through that time…but right now, this one stands out in my mind: He loves me and He sees me.
Jesus. Sees. Me.
He knows my hurt. His heart is toward me. His compassion is for me. In all the craziness of my busted-up relationships, and death, and cancer, and wounded heart, He sees me. Not who I think I am or who others think I am, but who I really am. And somehow…He still loves me.
That takes my breath away. He sees me. He sees ME! Suddenly, the crushing power of the world vanishes and I’m standing in awe of His beautiful, overwhelming, unconditional love.
Somehow…that kind of overwhelming, unconditional love gives me power. It is the courageous feeling that wells up in my trembling heart…enough to step forward in belief. It is the wind beneath my wings.
“He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31 HCSB)
Depression is real. It can be debilitating. It can be consuming. I’ll be the first to say that depression is hard. I’ve had days when I can’t even function and I’ve wanted to stay in bed all day. It’s the pits.
Just remember this, friend. His love? It’s deeper than your deepest depression. His power? It’s stronger than your sadness. He sees you. Trust Him with all your brokenness. Trust Him with the things that don’t make sense (and there will be plenty of things that won’t make sense in life). He DOES love you. He DOES see you.
Corrie ten Boom, a Nazi prison camp survivor once said, “No pit is so deep that He is not deeper still; with Jesus even in our darkest moments, the best remains and the very best is yet to be.”
You right there, trembling in your shoes. You, living under a cloud of guilt. You, seeking relief from your sorrow and grief. You, trying to navigate through the fog of depression. His love conquers fear. One step at a time, He can make you brave.
His eyes are on you. He sees you. He loves you. His compassion is for you. He makes you brave.
Rehearse it over and over. Write it on the bathroom mirror. Stick it on your car overhead visor. Put it as your phone screen-saver. Slap it up on your refrigerator. Believe it in your heart.