He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 2 Corinthians 4:8
The sound of bells jingling, the smell of fresh pine, cinnamon and baking in the air. The cheerful sound of "ho ho ho, Meeeeeerry Christmaaaaas!!” coming from the bellies of those dressed as Old Saint Nick and others and the appearance of season's greetings filling the air. But something else fills the air during this supposed joyous time. Much like the dreaded seasonal flu sicknesses taking flight in the air, being passed quicker than the school yard notes about the newest fight happening after school... depression catches on when we least expect it, before we can even deflect its damaging symptoms. Some don't even know they are depressed yet daily push people away, grumble at the season’s greetings... and even get kicked off of flights for the anger associated with depression.
I was one of those people up until a few years ago. No, it wasn't when I surrendered that I was freed from this isolating sickness but when I REALIZED that I was silently succumbing to depression. Every year somewhere between the middle of November and the beginning of December I would begin to retreat to my room. Usually, I would have faithful visitors in my room in the persons of my three kids. We would sit and watch TV in my room, listen to music, and when they wanted go outside and play, I would usually watch them from my room. There was only one thing wrong with my sickness... I did not know I was sick. Friends and family would call me and ask several times a week, "Are you okay?" and follow up with the comment, "You sound empty." You see, I thought I was doing a great job of hiding the loneliness, the despair and the feelings of not being good enough that seemed to be confirmed every time I stepped out of the house (usually for church). I apparently had gotten so good at it that I didn't even know when depression came to visit. I knew all I wanted to do was sleep, I knew all I wanted to do was stay in the house, I even knew there were times when I couldn't force myself to eat for weeks on end, even though I made my kids. I liken it to having a large animal (let's go with hippopotamus size) on my back or around my neck yet never knowing it. Even the first year that I had surrendered my life, I tried to make amends for certain things and actions towards family and friends but quickly sank right back into my cold, dark dungeon of a cell when I didn't feel the apologies were good enough. I felt, once again, like a failure and the enemy was right there to, faithfully, greeting me with the all too familiar "I told you so's".
But the enemy wasn't even the problem at that point... I was. You see I was free, I just didn't realize it. I knew at the exact moment when I was supposed to surrender, I knew that I heard God say to me "If you let Me, I will love you." What I didn't know was that I wasn't just surrendering my broken heart from a tumultuous relationship, I was to surrender even my broken dreams, my broken spirit and the lies that I had been told for years that seemed to surface like old coffins when the ground opens up from years past. I was still depressed.... there I said it; I even contemplated suicide a few times. The very thing I thought would free me, salvation, seemed to thrust me further into depression because I just could not get it right! BUT GOD!!
In the past 5 years, He has been showing me time and time again that I am worthy of His love, His time, His faithfulness! Let's face it! I have messed up quite a bit in the past 5 years, yet He still loves me! And not because of me but because of Him! That is the straw that broke the depression camel's back! At first, I couldn't understand why God kept sending people to tell me that He loves me during some of the darkest times of my life. It felt like I was sinking in quagmire (quicksand, I just really wanted to type the other word) and people kept walking by as I was calling for help and saying "God wants you to know how much He loves you." I could not wrap my mind around this statement. I felt like even saying some of those times, "I don't care!! How is that going to help me??" But it was the constant knowledge that He loves me that cushioned each fall, each push from someone, each disappointment, each bump in the road.
Depression is a mild cold that you can sleep away or "sweat out" the fever. Depression is a killer, plain and not so simple. For those of us who are Christians, who live out His Word, we need to set the example to those who do not. We can't do that if we are not transparent about our struggles. They will not see that we are human just as they are if they only see our "Sunday best" and nose turned up to most things done in the world. They will not know that Jesus is the Truth, the Way and the Life or that He cares for us as Scripture says if we are not SHOWING that we need it from time to time ourselves. For 2015, I want to start THIS year long, possibly LIFELONG challenge. That we would LIVE out the footsteps of Christ, that we would show others, not just tell them, that we have troubles just like them. I will be the first. My name is Felicia and I have suffered with depression, feelings of worthlessness and have had thoughts of suicide. But that's NOT who I am!
Father, thank You for Your faithful pursuit of us, Your constant wayward children. My heart cries for those who have to deal with depression as I have. Lord, help Your children who have overcome to be a true beacon of Light for those still in the darkness. Help us not to be disgusted with their appearance and ways but only with the sin that entraps them. "Give us Your eyes so that we can see..-Brandon Heath" In Jesus precious name! Amen!
If you suffer with depression or even think you do, call your doctor immediately. Here is a list of symptoms: