Thoughts on Depression...


To a Friend {and anyone else who needs a word of Hope} ...


I'm not going to have time to edit this... I just want you to know some things. I'm sending a prayer to the Holy Spirit and then I'm going to hit send....

I want to tell you something a little odd about the moment I heard about your struggle -- that is that it gave me hope. Strange, I know, but I mean it. When I see a soul suffering to it's limits, I also see a soul that is drinking so deeply from the well of pain that it means it can still feel. It has not yet hardened. That means it also has great capacity for goodness. And holiness. And joy.

When I hear of your suffering, my mind's eye sees your smile, your words of encouragement, your service to those around you, your depth of faith, and your perseverance in love of our Lord. I see your lovely and beautiful fingerprints all over the place. Your suffering is the suffering of the Cross. You are finding, at a rather young age, that the world does not understand the passion of your heart. And that is why I have hope. Because you are still courageous enough to breathe deeply of this life and not shut off Love. 

We live in a culture that runs from authentic Love because loving always involves pain. Service is hard. Gentleness takes time. We prefer to rush around in comfort and skate on the surface. Any deeper and we might run into an ugly wound. We pretend to be compassionate but we are always running away. We run from anything that pricks us. We run from our own cross and we run from the crosses of others...

I have seen you. You do not run. You have chosen a narrow path in a culture that actively and overwhelmingly seeks to numb as much as possible. To be pain free. Instead, you have chosen the pursuit of virtue. You have chosen the path of Truth and Beauty. You have chosen to serve whole heartedly. It is not surprising that this would leave you often walking alone. It is not a mark of failure on your part... but rather the mark of grace in your life. When God walks with a soul, there is exquisite pain. And joy. I know you see how they walk beside each other in your life, don't you? It is a mystery. It is a gift.

Will it sound crazy to you if I say that your pain is really a great gift of grace from God? I don't want to frighten you, but I see how He works through you and I wonder if you know that this depth of feeling, this personal suffering, is an indication that He has made you for greatness. He has touched you from the Cross. It hurts now, friend, but it will blossom into something at which you will marvel. The place of your deepest wounds will become the source of your greatest ministry to others. You will understand how to love others through pain. You will not flinch at their suffering.

When I hear of your struggle, I know that He has made you for big things. I don't mean fame or popularity. I mean holiness. You have read the lives of the saints and you know that they suffered greatly. Jesus touched them from the Cross. He allowed them to come close to His wounds. And then He changed the world through their broken hearts. At the end of their lives, they looked upon death with joy and gladness because it meant that they would enter into the rest of their Father forever. But they did not choose it a moment before He did... because He did not will it.

I want you to know that this place of mine, Blossoming Joy, rises from a similar struggle. He has allowed me to carry burdens. Allowed me to feel the weight of my own fears and failures. Out of that private suffering, He has blessed me with a great longing for my eternal home... and a deep desire to be true to Him and to be a consolation to others. I find I work best with Him when I am open and freely living my love for Him and when I speak His name often and expose my weakness for His purpose. The pain is there but so is joy. When He consoles, I am grateful and embrace it. When He allows me to search, I have learned to wait on Him... knowing that it is all for my own refinement. I do it imperfectly... and rely on Him to keep me steady.

The feeling of wanting to shut off the hurting... I know that feeling. It is similar to labor pains during birth. There is a point that I come to in childbirth when my mind starts to frantically search for a way out. My mind screams I can not do this! and panic starts to edge in. But there is no way out. There is only a way through. And so the pain comes like waves and I cry His Holy Name out loud... until I have birthed new life. He works like that in our soul. And there is no one. NO ONE. who is not asked to carry a heavy cross. And that cross must be heavy enough to break down our resistance to the glory of Easter. The more we resist, the more it hurts. Living productively through depression means learning to let Him have control when we most want to retain it. Becoming little again like the saints have done before us.

You already know that sleep, diet and exercise are important to well-being and to caring for our physical and mental states so I won't go into that. But I do want to stress that there is a very real connection with depression and the body. It is not your fault. It happens to you. The chemical processes are complex and so delicate that women seem to be particularly susceptible because our amazingly intricate feminine design. It is very common for those with chronic illness or fatigue to suffer depression. It is a constant balancing act... but one which can be managed. Breathe through it. He loves you. You are not alone for even one moment.

I have more to write. So much more. But I will just close by saying again that your life is a gift of hope. Your faithfulness is being tested and tried but you don't need to win this war on your own strength. Have you ever tried to carry a heavy object with your arms straight out in front of you? Imagine trying to carry a large, heavy cross that way. It is impossible. The easiest path seems counterintuitive. It is to draw as close as possible to that cross... to lean in to your cross as Christ did with His own. Lean in hard. Embrace. And let Him carry you.

I am not a doctor. I am not a psychologist. I am not a saint. I am not a mystic. I am not an expert on you. There is not much here that I can claim to be an expert on. Although, you might say that I am experienced with the topic. I know He has saved me, raised me, consoled me, upheld me, nourished me, carried me, loved me, graced me, and confounded me as He has allowed me to walk with this gift. 

And I do see it as a gift even while I wish to throw it off. Because I see that He has asked me to carry a heart that is willing to be wounded for love. It is not my wish to have it but I strive to accept the mystery of the embrace of Christ.

I am praying that you experience relief from this trial temporarily or permanently, according to His will. And I thank God that you are surrounded by those who love you dearly and who have shared their gift of faith. His grace is stronger than your suffering. Your success is not required. Give Him your heart and He will care for it tenderly. God be praised!

In the Love of Christ Jesus,

Posted on October 8, 2014 and filed under Spiritual Life, Faith.