Depression Goes to Church

Tomorrow morning, after eight hours of sleep, I’ll struggle to pull my fatigued body out of bed. I’ll ignore the pain in my joints and muscles as I walk downstairs to pump myself full of water (because it’s good for me) and coffee (because water doesn’t have caffeine). While the coffee is brewing, I’ll check my phone for any notifications, because heaven forbid I go eight hours without looking at that stupid thing. Then I’ll grab my coffee, and my Bible, and attempt to quiet myself before the Lord. If I’m super-intentionally focused, I’ll study the Word, and pray, and feel pretty good for awhile. However lately, I’ve been driven to distraction by all the things that have piled up over the last couple of months. Though my quiet time has been more miss than hit, I am hoping that tomorrow morning will be a time that I feel connected to God…because I know what’s coming, and I’ll need the strength of the Lord to get me through.

I’ll finish up my quiet time and lug myself back upstairs to get dressed…and then our family will head to church. We live about 40 minutes away, so I will spend about that much time doing battle in my mind. Anxiety will rear it’s ugly head and I will attempt to remember my Scriptures to combat anxiety. “Fear not, for He is with me! The joy of the Lord is my strength! He is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer! Jesus wept! Wha?! I’m getting distracted. My husband and kids are having a fun conversation…they’re so funny. I love my family! I know…I’ll just focus on what they’re talking about!

I’ll laugh at something said and, as much as I want it to be, my heart simply won’t be in it. It will be just another reminder that something is wrong with me. “Ugh…stupid depression. Why do I have to feel this way? It’s never-ending! I just want to be normal!! Why does everything have to be a fight? God, do You have a purpose for all of this? I just want to serve You and serve others, but I can’t do it if I’m THIS broken. Won’t You heal me? Am I supposed to be learning something from this? I mean, I am learning…it’s just not as simple as ‘three points and a take away.’ I know You can use it all for Your glory, but God, I’m so tired. Do I have unconfessed sin that needs to be addressed? If so, please point it out so that we can deal with it. I know You have a plan for me, I just wish I knew what it was…or whether or not I am heading in the right direction…or even what the next step might be. I know that You love me and that You will never leave me nor forsake me, but sometimes, You just seem so far away. If Jesus died to set me free…and by His stripes I am healed…then why am I bound in this darkness? Why am I in this pit? I know the story of Joseph and how You took him from the pit to the palace. I also know about how Jacob had to wrestle with You, and it wasn’t until after he wrestled with You that he received the name Israel. I know the stories of Esther and Ruth and Peter and Paul. I know that my life is a story, as well. I want to believe…help my unbelief!”

We’ll pull into the parking lot, and I’ll muster up every last ounce of energy that I have to try to put on a smile. No matter the pain I am facing…no matter the pit I am in…I don’t ever want that to take away from an opportunity to minister to someone. I’ve seen the power of a smile…so I’ll try to, at least, give that…even if I have nothing else. I’ll walk through the doors with a smile on my face. And while screaming on the inside, I’ll answer that dreaded question, “How are you?” with a simple “Fine. How are you?” I’ll redirect any personal questions back to the questioner and make sure that I don’t come out from behind the wall I’ve built up, because if I do, it just might come crumbling down. And as well meaning as I may be, that smile that I “put on” is just one of the many masks I wear. And lately, it’s been too difficult to even put on that one.

The masks.

The wall.

I’m tired of them, all.

I don’t want to hide, anymore…

walls

This is the first post in a short series of posts on my experience with anxiety and depression. I’m not an expert, nor do I have all the answers…but I do know that I am not alone. People who deal with anxiety and depression can feel very isolated. Those who have never experienced anxiety or depression may not know what to say or how to interact with someone struggling with these conditions. So, in my own little corner of the world, speaking from my personal experiences, I would like to begin to remove some of the mystery, and the stigma, of anxiety and depression…especially within the Church. And most importantly, I want those who are struggling to know that they are not alone.

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