You probably already know that following Jesus doesn’t exempt you from depression. This is part of my confession.
After being saved from a lifetime of loneliness and lies, I thought Jesus saved me forever. At a holiday gathering last December, I boasted that I will never need counseling again, that Jesus is my answer to depression and every other issue in my life. If you recall, Adrian Stouffer did a guest post about counseling and shared some of her experience with depression. I enlisted her because I did not feel I could in good conscious advocate for my brothers and sisters in Christ to seek counseling.
Soon after this boasting incident (and maybe I will actually learn this time, that the ONLY thing I may boast about is the power of His Holiness), during the gray days of January, I noticed my poetry becoming dark.
I got scared.
Darkness to me indicates a hopeless, lifeless trap. I am painfully aware of Satan, who ruled my life for forty years would like nothing better to wheezle me back from Lord of the Universe. If he is listening, my message for him is something my mother used to say, “Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.”
I denied the dark. My whole life had been illuminated by His shining warm light. It couldn’t have possibly …
I can’t be depressed. I love my Jesus. He is with me. He is making me new in Him. The old Julie had a heart full of dark that she pretended was light. She suffered in secret. She is gone, right?
I am walking on solid ground.
Then I read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. Rivers of tears streamed faster than I could catch them. I can’t tell you what part of her life triggered stuff in me. What I can tell you is that I was a wreck until I finished the book and placed it back on the shelf.
That was the end of December.
Though my feet were flat, I felt my life start to slide downward. I was tired all the time, no energy. Naps replaced walks. Sweet treats replaced dinner. My hips widened in my prayer chair, and I simply didn’t care.
Did I pray? Oh yes, I still prayed. Some days I whined, not realizing what was happening. I asked God lots of questions during this time.
Lord, why is my poetry dark?
Poem, Written February 9th:
Lying on my son’s bed, His sun shines my winter pale face
The brightest star streams through the window
Warming my soul with eternally cleansing grace
Jealousy, pride … all Medusa’s snakes slithering inside
Yet His light grows in size, covering me, spanning space
My wretchedness reeks, emanating thoughts of hateful freaks
Please heal the gaping wound opening up again in this heart place
“For you have asked and believed by faith,
Soon the demons of old will vanish without a trace.
You, my child, will be
Free to walk with Me, clothed in love
Free to proclaim your identity as my Daughter, my precious dove
Free to be brave, dare, leaving behind all unwelcomed fear.”
I continued to blog, as you know, but the enemy halted full disclosure. I heard ill-will whispers:
God opened those doors for speaking. Nobody will want you to speak if they know you are here feeling sorry for yourself.
There I was again, secretly suffering. But this time, I had Jesus who patiently held me as He prepared me to visit old, unresolved pain. This was about the time I began imagining God’s super human size hand. Each time I would crawl away from life, I would imagine laying in his hand, holding me. I couldn’t get enough of this rest, even though my soul was in unrest.
Jesus moved memories around in my heart, sloughing off old bandaids, nudging me to look at long ago grief that I never embraced.
It took three months of hiding in my bed, gaining weight and feeling general malaise, to reach out to a friend to ask for counseling referrals. I couldn’t tell her my story without crying, there in the mall with our coffee and ice cream (serious comfort foods). About one month after that, I finally got an appointment.
I waited too long to reach out for help. The walls began closing in, limiting my outlets for all the resurgence of insecurities. I believed the lies. I couldn’t blog about this.
Oh, Lord, is it ok she is not a Christian counselor? I am getting desperate here. I know I need someone to talk to, someone who is not my husband or my friend.
As I was waiting for the counselor to call me back, I shared my plans with Terri (a friend I met a couple years back that god is bringing us more together) during a phone conversation.
As the word c-o-u-n-s-e-l-o-r came out of my mouth, I felt exposed.
Terri immediately validated my need with Scripture. Thank you, Sister in Christ. Thank you, Jesus.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
There are so many things I want to say to you about my recurrence of depression.
Stick to His truth which is His love in the face of anything.
Old pain is valid pain. Jesus knows why it is still there, lingering. There’s this idea that the past is old and “should” be left behind. In Phillipians 3:13-14, Paul talks about forgetting about what is behind and moving toward Heaven.
Brothers and sisters, please heed context when learning His truth.
God did not use a cookie cutter when He made us. Each of us has a unique history, and some have legacies that are dark. In His light with His guidance, I believe anyone can revisit past hurt and heal.
Listen to He who created You and who was with You your whole life..
Living in your heart, He knows which ashes will blossom into beauty and which will be thrown into the fire of restoration (Isaiah 61:1-3).
Do not give Satan the power by choosing shame. Shame is a tool of the enemy that is used to whittle away your identity in Christ.
Honor your feelings, whatever they are. Choose to share with others whom you can trust will honor your feelings.
Sometime this past Spring, the hashtag #nomorepretending was born. I will honor myself by acknowledging hurt and my old friend depression if he comes around for another visit.
No matter what happens or happened in your life, God doesn’t change. You will always be a Daughter or Son of The Most High (John 1:12).
Grief, depression, anxiety are not signs of weakness or extended pity parties, they are clinical conditions that need acknowledgement, prayer and professional intervention.
I did not need meds this time to get up out of the valley, but I might in the future. Depression is a genetic and behavioral part of my life tapestry. It is part of who I am. I do not need to fear anything with Jesus, but I do need to be true to myself and others.
I pray this post helps you unlock or at least acknowledge to yourself that you are whole and holy in His eyes.
Embrace your broken because He does.
Another book I read which helped me in this journey was Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way. Please email if you need prayers and know that Jesus loves you just right where you are. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to connect more often with me on social media.