At this point, I don’t think it’s a shock to anyone that even as Christ followers, we’re not exempt from bad things happening to us and we’re most definitely not exempt from feeling the messy emotions that living in a broken and fallen world naturally brings.
Unfortunately, heartache, grief, and disappointment are all factors that play much too big of a role in this place we reside in called earth.
If you follow me on twitter, you most likely saw that a month and a half ago, I tweeted this:
The next day, that number 3 went up to number 4.
For the fourth time in my life and for the first time in five years, I attempted to take it into my own hands.
The day I tweeted that, I felt victorious. I felt as if I could conquer anything that life throws at me. After all I’ve overcome in the past, I felt confident that there wasn’t a single thing that I couldn’t handle… until that mindset was shattered the very next day.
That’s the reality of depression—the day after feeling joyous and victorious, I woke up and suddenly the pain from all that I’ve lost in the past became fresh all over again all at once. No trigger. No reason whatsoever for it to come back with the intensity that it did. It just did. The reality of depression is that it’s utterly unexpected and it comes and goes as it pleases, most often with the most inconsiderate timing.
That dreaded day, the pain became much too overwhelming and the cloud that encased my mind became much too dark. The emotions were raw and oh so substantial. As the feelings of victory dimmed and the feelings of hopelessness grew, I very explicitly told the Lord, “Lord, if all you have in store for my life is pain, I want out.” and attempted to remove my life from His hands and decided to place it in my own.
You see, mental illness and suicidal thoughts are a very, very scary thing to talk about for someone who suffers from them. Bringing the struggle to the surface after shoving it deep down in the depths of our souls requires a painful amount of vulnerability and substantial amount of grace. Those who battle with a mental illness often convince themselves that they’ll receive judgment rather than grace if they bring their struggle to the light, but sweet friend, I’m here to tell you that you can’t heal what you hide. Vulnerability takes bravery, and bravery is a result of placing our victory in the One who died for us rather than in our circumstance which shatters us.
It’s much too easy for a Christian to feel shame for battling a mental illness—most times self inflicted, if we’re being honest. We’re supposed to just walk in the joy of the Lord and we’ll be happy, right? We’re supposed to “just have faith” and everything will be okay, right? Wrong. This is not only a dangerous mindset to have, but also an unBiblical one. We see many men and women of the faith all throughout the Bible that battled depression and suicidal thoughts. Moses, King David, Jeremiah, Elijah, Job… just to name a few.
The reality is, the child of God isn’t protected from suffering, but we’re protected through it. But as someone who knows their rightful spot as righteous before the Father, we have the privilege to use our suffering to lessen the suffering of the lost and broken world that encases us. Because of the hope of a soon coming King set before us, we can rest knowing that the ache is temporary and He is coming to wipe every tear from our weary eyes. And as a child of the living King, we can rest assured that not a single fragment of our pain will go unused for the furtherance of the Kingdom. What a sweet, sweet promise to cling to.
I think one of the most beautiful things about the Lord is that no matter how hard we try to take our life out of His hands, He never loses His grip. Jesus said in John 10:29 “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” and I don’t know about you, but this comforts me to the core—to know that my fragile heart is safe in the hands of a gentle Father.
I can’t help but to love so much that He’s the type of God who is full of compassion and chooses to sit with us in our pain rather than expecting us to get over it. He may not take the hurt away in the way we longed for, but He will never fail to use it for a much greater purpose than we could ever imagine if we simply offer it to Him (Ephesians 3:20).
Sweet friend, if you’re someone who finds themself in an ongoing battle with your mind, be comforted in the fact that:
-The Father promises us that He is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18)
-He’s the type of God who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you the victory (Deuteronomy 20:4)
-He longs to carry the weight of our burdens for us (Psalm 55:22)
-We find rest for our minds and souls in Him and Him alone (Matthew 11:28-30)
-If you belong to Him, He hears your prayers and cries for help and comes to the rescue every time. Maybe not in the way we expected, but He is always faithful to show up (Isaiah 41:10)
-You are free. You may not always feel like it, but the good news is your feelings don’t dictate your freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Child, when your thoughts wage war, behold Him. And as you wait for the miracle to come, worship Him. He is worthy of all the praise even when your circumstance leaves you in a shattered place.
And if you’re someone who finds themself in an ongoing battle with your mind, please talk to someone. Find refuge in a safe person. Get the help you deserve to have. Your life is much too precious to not be taken care of properly. And sweet friend, always remember that you can’t heal what you hide. You’re braver than you know, and the world is so much better with you in it.
A new beginning where there should have been an end.