I went through a season of depression when I felt frightfully out of control. I didn’t like being forced to admit such vulnerability, but life became so dark that no amount of positive self talk, counseling, Bible study, declarations of faith, or prayer could keep me steady.
What can we do when important aspects of our lives are out of our control?
Nothing helped. At times I was so distraught I thought I might drive my husband and family away. After all, who would like to come home to an angry, tearful, accusing spouse?
The slippery slope
What scared me most was realizing I might be fine for weeks, my normal, contented heart trusting in God and serving others, but then the clouds would gather, blocking rational thinking and making my foundation slippery.
Was I on the path to becoming the crazy woman people talk about, living alone in a shack somewhere?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
One day I prayed, Lord, you are my rock, but sometimes I’m powerless to hang on. I’m convinced I’ll be swept away if you don’t have a firm grip on me. Please fix whatever is broken, but if it is not your will to do this then show me how to honor you in these hard places. I know your grace is sufficient for me. Help me to rest in you.
That is the comfort I can share with you. No tips or formulas, only the gritty honesty that agrees that sometimes we can’t help ourselves – that God is there, and he remains faithful no matter what state we’re in.
Sing what you believe
I found my son, a kindergartner, on the front steps singing a song to God. He was a kid who loved being with people, but when he found himself without playmates that day, he sat and created a song to express his sadness and lift his soul.
My prayers are sometimes songs as well, made up as I go. Singing my thoughts helps me to be more honest with myself and more real with God.
Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
It’s good to sing what is true, to our God who hears us. I continually find new references in the scriptures that tell us to sing to him. I’m happy, and honored, to comply.
In my case, being honest about my hopelessness led me to a better way to manage life, and now my song is much more joyful.
If any of this sounds similar to your story, or you are interested in a discussion about mental health, suffering and following Jesus, I suggest you listen to my friend and former pastor, Wesley Towne. He left the Oregon church he founded (Ekklesia Eugene) due to his wife’s health concerns, and he is an excellent resource on this topic.
Blessings on your hope-filled journey!