Thursday, June 23, 2022

It's Not Really Depression, Right?

 I feel like I am standing on the edge of the cliff.  Up here, I can look around and down below, and I can see a vast landscape.  It isn't luscious and green.  It isn't filled with flowers and color.  It is dark and deep, and it is an abyss that calls me by name.  It KNOWS me.  It recognizes the shape of me, the energy I put off, all the things that are in me that do not belong.  It calls to me.  It shows me beautiful things, things that look good. And yet, if I look at them from a different angle, or light shines down on them, they crumble to dust.

When I get to this point, I think I fool myself into thinking I am not depressed.  I am clinging so desperately to my own sanity, and I already feel like I am drowning.  The depression beckons me to just lay down and stop fighting.  Just stay in bed.  Just today.  Just lay down and succumb.

It is so alluring, this call to lay down and just stop. To let it all wash over me, and just spend months locked away from the world, while I suffer under the weight of it.  I look at where I am right now, and I look at what is on the horizon, and neither option is desirable.

I honestly don't want to be in either place--either in the middle of depression, or on the edge of it.  And yet, it is the place I find myself.  Yet again.  It's a ride I can't get off of. I don't have the luxury of just setting depression down and simply hoping it goes away.  My entire adult life (and likely much of my teen years) has been a balance between sanity and mental torment.  

Most days, I win.  Not the me who I am trying desperately to put to death, but the me who is fearfully and wonderfully made.  The me who loves Jesus and wants to serve him...the one who relies on HIS strength because I know I have none left...that's the me who usually gets through yet another day.

Then there are other days where I'm exhausted from fighting.  I am weak.  I give into the feelings and the chaos.  I let my mind wander around through a minefield.  It is as if during these dark times, I have convinced myself that this minefield I am trudging through is not filled with traps and pain and death! And so I spend some time there, being filled up with all things empty.  

Even while I am there, I am disgusted.  I know it isn't right.  I know it isn't true.  I know it isn't what my mind needs to be fixating on. This obsession, this compulsion to consider the what ifs - I want it to die.  I don't want to be this scared, nervous, obsessive person who is easily swayed by whatever looks good. Even if I can see it dripping with death and decay, there is still this small part of me that craves that. How? Why? I know it's empty and dead. And yet, because it's pretty on the outside, it calls to me.

This is depression.

It dresses itself up and it tries to play itself off as good.  It tries to trick me.  It tries to whisper that it is what I need.  And when you are exhausted and raw and unsettled, giving in to it sure does sound like the easiest thing to do. In fact, it IS the easy thing to do. To just lay down. To just close my eyes, stop fighting for just a few minutes, and let what happens, happen. Because I can fool myself into thinking that it'll only grip me for a few minutes or hours. But those hours turn into days, which turn into months. Dark, awful, scary months, where I can't trust my own mind or thoughts because they want to convince me that life is not worth living anymore.

I'm a little angry, if I am honest, calling this place I am in depression.

Yesterday, I felt like I was just on the edge, like I hadn't given in.

And this morning, I wonder if I have been fooling myself.

The panic, the anxiety, the things that lead into depression, that's where I am at, right?  Just there?  Not any further?  I haven't really tipped my toes into this again, have I? And what if I have?  Why does this always come with shame? Why can't I just BE unsettled and BE not okay without it also ushering in guilt and shame for feeling like this to begin with?  I want to beat myself up for finding myself here. It is a vicious cycle and it would be so easy to just let is all crash down on top of me.

I know that's a lie. Because the truth is something God showed me before I even started writing this: yes, I am here again, trying desperately not to get sucked in and pulled under. And yes it is hard. And yes, I am currently fighting a fight for literal life. 

This time around, I can see it coming - maybe not a mile off, but I'll tell you this.  The last depression in 2020?  It snuck up on me and I was completely surprised to find myself in the midst of day after day after day of struggling to get out of bed, take a shower, brush my teeth, go to work, be around people, trying NOT contemplate ways to make it all just stop.  

I just typed that I wasn't going to be surprised by it this time around and then quickly deleted it, because as I sit here writing this, I guess it has surprised me once again.  I thought I was "safer" from the depression this time around, because I could feel it creeping in. And yet, maybe I am already in the midst of it.

The difference is that right now, in this very moment, I am STILL in the fight. I do not want to let it wash over me.  Well, I WANT it to.  But I also know that I can't. No matter how exhausted I am from the constant struggle to keep my head above water, I have to keep swimming. And even though it's hard and I'm very, very tired, I choose to put one foot in front of the other.  Today, I choose to fight another day. The alternative, trying to dig myself out of that abyss, it's not something I want to do again.

I don't know how to get through it. I want to avoid it altogether. And yet, that's not usually how it works with anything in life. Sometimes we have to walk through the really hard things before there is relief. It would be too easy and I would learn nothing if it were not incredibly difficult.  I wouldn't complain if it were a little LESS difficult, but I know that the freedom and growth will be worth the struggle.

So today, while I still can, I choose to fight. 


Monday, June 20, 2022

A Psalm of Sorrow

 Go a little deeper.

That's what you are saying.

It's the calling you have placed on my heart.

You gave me ten years to rest and heal.

You gave me time to learn and grow.

And now, you want me to go deeper.

Can I be honest?

I'm not sure I want to.

Not because I don't want to be in the deep.

Not because I don't want to grow more.

Not because I don't desire MORE.

It's just, if I'm honest, I'm scared.

I don't know what to expect.

We both know the unknown has always terrified me.

How do I move forward in faith, instead of fear.

I can hear you beckon me

I feel your Spirit moving in me, drawing me deeper.

I'm not sure I'm scared about drowning.

I'm not ever certain what I am actually afraid of.

I have been in the deeps with you.

When I thought it would hurt, when I thought you would wound, instead I found healing.

I found peace.

I found freedom.

I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

Time and time again, you have lavished love and grace in my life.

So why is it so easy to get distracted?

Why does the slightest wind shift my focus?

Why can't I  just stay in the deep with you?

Why am I always swimming to shore?

Why can't I just stay put and let the waves shift and move me?

I don't want to give you control.

I guess when it comes down to it, I don't want to let it all go.

Surrender, you say.

But what about all the other things?

All the stuff that tells me it is more important?

Who will worry about those?

I know the truth.

Why can't I activate the faith I cling to?

Why does this feel so hard?

It feels too big, like I will never learn.

How long will I fight against this?

I want to change.

I want to die to myself.

And yet, at the heart of it, I realize just how much of myself I still love.

I want it to look the way I want it to look.

I want to give you my heart and also hold onto the parts of it that aren't yet yours.

That's the truth, isn't it?

Admitting that I want it to be all about me.

I want the accolades.

I want to be seen.

I want what you have called me to give.

That's at the heart of what I don't want to admit.

Humility is this intangible thing that feels too big to grasp.

And yet, I know it's required.

I have to die.

I have to be willing to let you excise the parts of my heart that no longer belong.

I am alive.

I am free.

I don't have to be consumed by this.

You remind me constantly of your love and grace.

Why do I long for it to be enough, yet walk through life as if it isn't?

I hate this about myself.

I don't want to be self-centered and vain.

I don't want to feel this way.

But I do.

So what now, God?

It feels like we are at an impasse, because I don't want to let it go.

I don't want to give up this last piece of myself, the piece that makes me me.

Even though me isn't worth much.

The me who wants to live is not healthy or safe or filled with your spirit.

Why is the battle against my own will so hard?

It's MY will.  

I should be able to control this, shouldn't I?

I'm angry and I'm frustrated.

All of my insecurities rise to the surface and I don't know how to make them bow.

I don't know how to move past this.

And yet, you give me clarity.

You show up, on quiet drives to work.

You orchestrate worship that drives me to the foot of the Cross.

You remind me that you are bigger than all of my fears.

You love me, even this part of me I am trying so desperately to cling to.

You love even that girl.

The one who feels small and defeated.

The one who loves herself more than she should.

The one who knows the good she ought to do and doesn't do it.

Your grace.

Your mercy.

Your love.

Those are singing over me today as I wrestle with feelings of shame and anger and insecurity.

None of it matters.

In the grand scheme of things, I'm irrelevant.

Remind me when I forget.

Keep showing up.

Keep giving me your grace.

Keep showering your mercy upon me.

Keep lavishing this love I can't understand.

Bring me to my knees.

Give me courage to stay there, as long as it takes for you to make me clean.

Wash away anything that points to me.

Forgive me for making it about me and what I want.

Soothe my heart when it feels empty.

I know that you see me.

I know that you are the only one that matters.

Bring me back to that place where my heart was wholly about you.

To live, I must die.

I want to live.

Teach me to live.

Friday, June 17, 2022

A Psalm Of Chaos

 I am unsettled.

A bomb has gone off inside of my body.

Every moment is a battle.

Each second is a fight for control.

I choose FAITH over FEAR.

But I am still afraid.

Thoughts come unbidden.

I don’t want this.

I don’t want to think about these things.

They are not true.

They are not noble.

They are not right.

They are not pure.

They are not lovely.

They are not admirable.

I WANT to think about excellent or praiseworthy things.

So why are the *other* thoughts so loud?

I hear them, like constant screaming in my brain.

I force the negative thoughts to bow down.

They have no place in a heart that has been set free.

But the thoughts, they stand up again.

I force them to bow. Again.

Again, they rise.

Again, I make them bow.

The thoughts boomerang throughout my mind, draining my energy.

I want the roiling in my stomach to stop.

I want the constant feeling of suffocating to go away.

I want to feel stable again, even if just for a moment.

I want to not be tired from the fight.

I want the struggle to end.

But God, I don’t want to rush you.

I know that you are taking me somewhere new.

I know that you want to put this fear to death once and for all.

You want to walk me through the path to freedom from the anxiety that cripples me.

You are asking me to wait.

You are asking me to sit in this; all the while, you call me deeper.

You never promised it would be easy.

You actually promised it would be very difficult.

Because Jesus doesn’t make any sense.

The Cross is confusing.

It’s hard to understand how death can bring life.

And yet, it does.

Knowing that doesn’t make me less tired.

It doesn’t take away the shaking, the trembling, the heavy breaths that never feel quite complete.

How long am I called to sit in this?

Until it no longer has a hold on me?

How long will it take?

I’ve never been quick to learn the lesson.

So I want to rush through the pain and the stretching.

I want to be on the other side.

But I know it doesn’t work like that.

I have to walk through this, no matter how hard.

I have to sit in the panic that never quite leaves, until it no longer has a hold over me.

How do I get from here to there?

I know the end goal.

I can see it, just on the horizon.

I know that I can reach out and grab it.

Why can’t I connect my brain and my heart?

Why is it always so hard to surrender?

I can feel the resistance.

It just builds and builds, the more I desire to lay it down.

I hate this feeling.

I hate the internal struggle to let go.

To say, OK. It’s time to stop fighting.

And what about now?

When I am trying so hard to lay it down and let it go?

Why is it still so hard?

Why does relief not come?

How long do you want me to endure this?

I will.

But is there an end?

Will I ever be free of this anxiety in this earthly body?

Or is this another thorn in my side, like the pain?

Does this keep me from becoming prideful in all you have called me to do?

Does it point to you?

Or is there a deficiency in me that you want to fill?

I think there’s freedom for me.

I want there to be.

But the struggle is nearly unbearable.

The constant bringing my mind back under control has left me feeling weak and exposed.

This is spiritual warfare.

I expected it.

I knew that the enemy would ramp up efforts to divide and destroy.

I watched him do it before.


I refuse to let him have a hold in my life any longer.

If I need to put this to death once and for all, then I will buckle up and hold on for the fight of my life.

But can I rest a little along the way?

Can I have time to breathe and cry and recover?

Can I pause, when it all spills over, and just be held for a few minutes?

I close my eyes, and I call on the name of Jesus.

I sit at my desk at work, trying to hold it all together.

Tears fall down my cheeks as I try to focus.

I’m not sure I’ll make it through, and yet again, I do.

I put one foot in front of the other.

I take shallow breaths, because deep ones elude me.

I put my head in my hands and I cry out to Jesus.

Give me strength.

Give me relief.

Give me peace.

Teach me to put to death all that still remains of me.

I’ve been asking this for a while, and you are answering.

That’s why I am here, in this chaotic place.

Because I asked you to take me to the next level.

I told you that I was ready.

So I am not surprised by this.

I don’t even want you to take it away really.

It’s just that on days like today, I just want to rest.

Just for a bit.

And when I cry out for that, you remind me.

I am called to NOT be weary in doing good.

I am called to NOT give up in the kingdom work.

It’s all about you.

It has nothing to do with me.

So once again, I cry out for more of you and less of me.

Renew my mind.

Refresh my heart.

Give me strength to keep fighting.

Remind me when I am weak that it’s okay.

In my weakness, you show up best.

If weakness is what it takes for me to know you, continue to bring me to my knees.

Calm my anxious heart.

Still my shaking bones.

Ease the trembling I feel in my spirit.

My hope is in you, therefore you WILL renew my strength.

I will mount on wings like eagles.

I will run and not be weary.

I will walk and not be faint.