The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5).
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the night I read those words, I began my journey out of the pit.
I have been struggling with depression since I was young. Even as a small girl, I was anxious about many things, and in high school, I battled an eating disorder, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm.
No one had a name for what I was experiencing, but as a Christian, shouldn’t I be free from those things? After all, I was trying to be the best Christian girl I could be. What was I missing? What did I need to start doing or stop doing to please God enough? I was an achiever, a learner; I strived to learn all I could about God so that I could do what He wanted me to do and remain a “good” girl.
Yet I still never felt like it was enough.
When I got married, I continued the quest for perfection, because, wasn’t that what God required of me? After my first daughter was born and I was faced with secondary infertility, I wondered what I had done wrong.
Was I not a good mother?
Was I being punished?
As my husband was beginning full-time ministry, I was sinking into a debilitating depression. Eventually, my days consisted of waking up to take my daughter to school, coming home to sleep or sit on the couch, picking up my daughter from school and counting the hours until bedtime.
I was barely functioning.
What was wrong with me? I couldn’t understand, and I saw no hope out of the situation. Assuming the situation wasn’t going to get better, thoughts of death consumed me. I began to wonder if my family would be better off without me and truthfully, I just didn’t want to live in that condition anymore.
Thankfully, my husband made the call I couldn’t, and I went to see my doctor.
I began treatment with medication and counseling. It was a long, painful journey and there were days I wondered if I was making any progress. It took time to find the correct medication, and even when we did, it took time for me to truly feel good again. Bad days were common, and I often feared I was sinking back into the dark, lonely pit.
Then one day, I felt like my black and white world was filled with color again.
It took time that I didn’t think I had, and work I didn’t think I had the energy to give,
but I am so thankful to be on the other side, knowing the hope that truly comes from belonging to Jesus.
During that time, my faith became so much more simple; yet I believe it developed a depth I had never experienced before. I had previously measured the depth of my relationship with God by how much of the Bible I knew. The more I knew, the more I thought God loved me and approved of me.
If I wasn’t learning more, I thought I was disappointing Him.
After being in a place where I couldn’t perform,
but only exist,
I began to understand that He loves me because He created me
and I am His.
I am His daughter and He loves me for that reason alone.
I still struggle with depression.
I will likely struggle for the rest of my life, especially in the fall. It still hurts, it’s still hard, and it’s a battle every time Depression visits. I battle negative thoughts, suicidal thoughts, and lack of energy. I believe, like Paul’s thorn, it serves to remind me that I need Jesus! Every day, in every season, I need Him.
I am confidently hopeful that the One who created me with intention, and loves me more than I can fathom, will strengthen me to persevere in the tough days.
He really does give good gifts to His children!
I must cry out to Him, asking Him to help me through the next moment, to take the next step.
And He blesses me with His presence. I realize He is all I need!
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