You know, when I look back over my blogs, one thing that strikes me is how overwhelmingly positive they are...Looking to Jesus...
This really significant to me because some years back I suffered through a clinical depression. If you're not familiar with this (and I hope you aren't) this is a period of serious depression (not just the blues) that lasts for 6 months or more. In my case, I began to heal at somewhere between 12 and 18 months. When you are depressed like this, you really cannot see the good, 'bright' and lovely things of life.
This period was a dark, terrible time in my life unlike any other. I ached physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I couldn't understand what was happening to me, and I didn't know how to 'get out of it.' I became such a different person from the person I had always been: from optimistic to complete pessimism; from self-reliant (in a healthy way) to helpless; from happy to desperate; from open to closed. I wouldn't know what had happened to me or have a descriptor (depression) for it until 3-4 years after it was all over. Having no words for it meant I couldn't even tell anyone. All I knew was that I wanted and needed OUT!
And when I say that, know that all options were on the table. Had I not had confidence that God knew what was going on and was still at work in this crazy world and life of mine, I promise you that I would not be here today. Because I had this confidence, suicide was never a serious option, but it did cross my mind. I just could not see the light at the end of this tunnel. It felt more like a cave in which I was lost, traveling ever deeper into the earth, and the voice in my head just kept saying, "Quit."
Since I pulled away from almost everyone during this time, almost no one knows how bleak my life was. Looking back, I can see classic triggers (onset of severe, undiagnosable physical pain, job loss, financial trouble) and classic symptoms (withdrawal from people, complete lack of motivation such that even dressing was a challenge, long periods of weeping though I couldn't have told you what was wrong). And classic responses--being so far away, my family didn't understand what was happening (who would guess depression?!), and this caused conflict between us. It was a truly dreadful time. I often prayed from Psalm 13:
How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death...
Now on the other side of this trial, I can understand all kinds of things about it:
· I was correct; God had not abandoned me.
· This was a very real spiritual battle, one that I was crazily losing for a long time.
· There was sin in my life that God was ferreting out.
· There were very hard lessons that I had to know that could only be taught through just such an experience.
· That a real friend is one who will tolerate you when you are in such a terrible shape.
· That healing can take a long time, but it does happen.
· What real compassion looks like, both to me and from me.
I share all this to say, that seven to eight years later I am so grateful that God has restored to me a heart that can see and appreciate what He has given and done. In some ways, I'm even better able to see... And so I know, even more than ever, that He is lovely and worthy and all.
Psalm 116 (My Testimony)
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD : "O LORD, save me!"
The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
I believed; therefore I said, "I am greatly afflicted." And in my dismay I said, "All men are liars."
How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD—in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.
In praise of His Name,