No holding back, right? That’s what I promised when I started writing 7 years ago. This is not something I take lightly, not at all. Because honestly, it puts me in a bad light and makes me even more vulnerable than I already am. However, the idea is to be a living example of the testimony that can come out of one broken life. Show people your weaknesses and they will see God’s strength even more. And so, Friends, I offer up this free association of my failures… God’s hopefully about to do an awful lot of shining.
This continuous nagging at my insides is all too familiar, I fear. That reminder that things are not as they should be. I am not who I should be, I am not where I should be, I am not the mom I should be nor the wife I should be. I am not enough for my church. I can’t actually enjoy life when there’s so much sorrow in the world. My kids make me angry. My kids make me feel inadequate. They make me hate waking up and so I find myself sleeping more. They exhaust me when I already feel so tired. When I feel this way, their constant bickering and tattling and testing limits seems so intolerable that I have to run away to escape my feelings towards them. Their screams are like needles to my eardrums. I try to “fix” my children… one who doesn’t even want to change, I’m pretty certain. And despite the wrongness of it all and the fight that I put on daily, I lost one child to a system that I loathe with all my heart. I beat my hands on my chest because I realize I can do nothing to change things. I am a person and I am fallible.
My marriage is broken. I don't want it to be, but it just is. I can’t tell my husband real things I face because we aren’t on the same page about anything important. I have failed to show him Jesus and have fallen so short of what the Bride of Christ is supposed to be. It seems like the harder I pray for our family to work, the more aware I am of all our broken pieces – shards of glass that cut open our feet as we daily walk through our messy lives. I’m convinced that my husband thinks I’m weak or incompetent – even when I feel like I’ve given all I have to be strong… only to collapse in front of him reaffirming my weakness.
I’m also pretty sure that my extended family things I’m weak, too… and dramatic. That I’m lazy and that I do too much, all in the same breath. That if things don’t go exactly my way, I can’t cope. And yet I wonder if they know what it’s like to live a life of constantly feeling like things are going the wrong way, that things are always breaking and collapsing, and that no matter what I do, it will never be enough anyways. I feel like I constantly do everything wrong in someone’s eyes. I take on too much and feel too hard, and then I get tired all over again. I don’t find contentment for long because there’s always something more that needs to be done. Then there are days where I don’t do anything and I feel even more tired than before.
It has been the worst summer I’ve had in all my life. There has been so much loss and unresolved grief, so much chaos and fighting this RAD disorder that seems hell-bent on destroying our family, so much personal pain and acknowledgment that people (myself heavily included) will constantly fail. There has been more need than there has been of me to go around, and even the part of me that’s there to help has been ground up and amounts to very little of anything useful it seems. Those in my world see me as both a martyr for a cause as well as a ticking time bomb. I’m the strong advocate and the closet weeper. I scream about as much as I pray. One moment I am utterly certain I’m doing what God has called me to, and the next day I want to pick up and start life over afresh. I feel like a chameleon and a fake, all at the same time. One day I know that I can be what I need to in any situation, the next I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore – just who I don’t want to be.
You see, Depression is not my friend, but she is sometimes my shadow. Often on the sunniest of days, her presence is seen most. A wife and mom, friend and family member, an author, therapist, worship leader, public speaker – I have a beautiful family, a new house being built, most of the bills are paid… And?
And there I sit with my shadow.
It feels like death and despair are all around me – every child that is being hurt, every mom who is crying out, every lost soul who is desperate for something… I feel it all the way through me. When those around me tell me to stop taking on other people’s burdens, I don’t even know how they’d like me to achieve that. Aren’t the world’s burdens ours to bear? Are we not to carry one another’s crosses with them and stand in the gap and hold their hands when they feel alone? Not because we can do anything in and of ourselves, obviously not – and I know that’s part of what ails me. But we’re Jesus with skin, aren’t we? How do we walk the tight-rope that is joining with those at the cross and leaving those burdens there?
I know my shadow will fade once again. She will not stay permanently – she never does. She can’t, because God has claimed victory over her, over each and every one of my conflicting feelings of discontent, self-doubt, and helplessness. I feel the presence of depression now, but I hold an unwavering Hope that my God will not leave me with her alone.
This is not a feel-good message, in case you haven’t noticed. But this is my brutal honesty.
I also know that there are many of you out there who also struggle with depression. Anxiety. Panic attacks. Fear. Worry. Self-doubt. Disbelief. And I encourage you to take comfort in your own sadness.
I know that sounds strange, but when we reach a certain point of sorrow, we are reminded so brightly that our light is not from ourselves but from the Lord. I do not feel happiness by the standards of this world – when I see all the suffering around me, I don’t know what happiness would even feel like. But then again, happiness is temporary. It is Hope that is eternal.
Even when your shadows are creeping up and the walls are closing in, remember that there is joy in sorrow, peace in chaos, and strength in Hope.
“Though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes with the morning.” ~ Psalm 30:5
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all”. ~ Psalm 34:17-19
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19