Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"God is Real No Matter How I Feel"

Image courtesy of Kolesnik Svetlana via 123rf.com
Why am I so overwrought,
    Why am I so disturbed?
Why can’t I just hope in God?
    Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One
    who saves me, my God.
Psalm 42:11, VOICE

Another week begins.  I groan in despair as the alarm goes off at 5:30 AM.  I wish there was some relief, some help, so I wasn't such a required part of everyone's morning.  But there is an IV infusion to administer before school for one child, and the other needs a ride to meet her teacher for help before classes start.  I glance at my schedule for the day in hopes that I can just crawl back into bed after drop off.  I hurt everywhere.

The pain I experience comes courtesy of the liar, depression.  It makes me feel physically weak, demeaning me with thoughts questioning whether I am loved, whether I am unlovable, whether I have any personal worth, and whether God even cares.  Depression tells me things will never get better.  I will always live in poverty; my marriage will never get better; no one will ever catch on and support the vision of our ministry.  It tells me garbage like everyone is better than me, smarter than me, more qualified than I am, viewed by others more favorably than I am.  It tells me that I am toxic in everything I do and say.

Nonsense like these thoughts are not just an attention-getting pity party.  They are a debilitating chemical reaction that occurs in my brain, largely because of my genetics and biology.  While there are things I can do to make myself and my depression better, it is a battle I will fight the remainder of my days, just like those living with high blood pressure or diabetes.   This is why I have come out of the shadows over the years -- because I realize that depression is an illness just like any other.  I certainly would never wish this for myself or anyone else.  And few things are more frustrating than willing yourself to feel better, but being unable to make it so.

The good news is that I have found ways to cope with this sometimes paralyzing mood disorder.  The number one means of doing so has been to cling to the truth that, "God is real no matter how I feel."  Even when my depression has me feeling so low that I want to hurl my Bible across the room, I never stop reading God's word.  Because I pour God's truth into me, I can know at my core, beyond a place where my depression can touch, that His promises are infallible.  His Word will stand no matter what.  

Combined with medication and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), I learned that I can ride out my depressive episodes much like I ride out the misery of a head cold.  It feels awful, "But tomorrow will be better," I tell myself in the midst of the storm.  I could not do that without the anchor for my soul that God provides through His word.  He pushes back all of the lies that depression spews at me with words like:

  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made, Barb! (Psalm 139:14)
  • I have numbered every hair on your head. (Matthew 10:30)
  • I delight in you, Barb! (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • I have big plans for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • I guide your every step. (Isaiah 30:21)
  • I am your protector. (Psalm 12:5-7)
  • Nothing is too hard for me, Barb. (Jeremiah 32:27)
  • I cannot lie and I never change. You can be secure in me. (Hebrews 6: 16-20)
  • I will wipe away every tear and give you an amazing new future. (Revelation 21:3-7)
These are powerful words!  They are a solid refuge for my soul that keeps me hanging on when my physiology does not want to cooperate.

I am so very grateful for God's boundless grace on which I can fully rely.  This is true not only for myself, but also for one of my children who battles both anxiety and depression.  I am able to speak from a position of authority to my child because that child knows what I go through in my mental health battle.  All of my children see me clinging to Christ in spite of this adversity.  That is a meaningful testimony to each of them!  Having spoke God's words of encouragement into each of their lives, I am privileged to have at least one of them speaking the same back to me when I am at a low point.

What a great God we serve that we can not only be stigma-free, but even have challenges in our mental health put to use for the purpose of blessing others!

PRAY:  Thank You, Father, that Your truth, Your complete dependability doesn't depend on how I think or feel.  Your goodness to us is absolute.  We can stake our lives on You.  Thank You for being so faithful when we are battered about by a world that is broken.





October 4 - 10, 2015 is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and World Mental Health Day is on October 10, 2015.  "Dignity in mental health" is this year's theme.

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story, sweet sister. Onward.

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  2. Amen! One of the greatest gifts I have been able to give my typically developing daughter, who also suffers from depression/anxiety, is the wisdom I've gained when the darkness of depression begins to swirl about. Often, when is begins to creep in, we can go to the Truth and keep it from taking us into the abyss. No matter how we/it feels, we must keep our eyes pointed at who is the way, the truth and the life.

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    1. Isn't it waaaay too easy to look down at our depression than up at Him during these times, Amy? Thanks for sharing the story of you and your daughter.

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  3. Thank you for your steadfast faith, your choice to walk and follow Christ no matter how your depression makes you feel. I have made that same choice. My OCD and specifically my Religious OCD put me in the position of making that choice with or without the comfort or reassurance of my relationship with Christ. It was a long hard journey but one that really taught me that God is not impeded by my affliction and that it's actually IN the affliction that I am able to truly lay hold of what it means when He says: "My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in your weakness." Turns out that He is the rock in the storm of my disorder.

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    1. Great points, Mitzi! Our weakness DOES give God an opportunity to put His glory on display in a unique, unquestionable way.

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  4. Thank you for your encouraging words! :-)

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