Monday, April 22, 2013

Depressed... Redeemed!

"... for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 
Nehemiah 8:10

You can't tell me that Satan doesn't know dates and use them against us. For the past week I have been, without lack of a better word, struggling. In a place of drifting, where one day blends into the other. I have not been able to soak in the joy of the greenness of spring, have rejoiced in the gloomy rainy days that seem to know exactly how to reflect my current state of mind. I have known that I should write a blog post on depression for a couple of weeks. Scripture, others' testimonies, memories of my own struggles, have all shown themselves to me throughout the days. Yet, I have struggled with what to say... Should I just give a personal story? Glamorize depression into something that can be overcome in 'x' amount of time? Make it seem like a rite of passage for all that doesn't need to be worked through, yet will work itself out? My only answer... Is that I can only write what is real... my truth... my unknown struggle. 

Two years ago this week (a date that Satan for sure knows!), I heard a sermon that changed me. Dr. Craig Edwards came to speak on a Tuesday night during a Bible Conference at my church, Parkway Baptist Temple. Click here to listen to that sermon.  He started the sermon describing the depression that had come into his life through health issues. I knew in that moment that depression was what had reared it's ugly head in my life. I bought Dr. Edwards book, "What Christians Need to Know about Depression", and wrote him a message through Facebook seeking his encouragement. I first shared with him, 
"I believe that depression started in me when my husband committed suicide..."
"Since his death, God has provided more than enough for me and my son. 
I am now engaged to a man that I know God made just for me. 
I enjoy being a mother and serving the Lord. 
In the midst of my blessings, I feel guilty, sad, angry, 
and all kinds of emotions that I just couldn't name. 
I have never thought to sum it up with 'depression'. It is a scary word for me to say..." 

I would like to say that I headed full force into my depression with a spear- diving into God's Word, choosing to find joy, putting negative thoughts behind me, seeing myself as a Child of God. However, I sunk  deeper into depression. We all hear the cliche statements on commercials or tv shows; "I was in a pit of darkness... I'm just so sad... This is never going to end..." But, I would like to take you deeper into my own experience so you might just maybe understand that depression is not something that someone voluntarily goes into. It is an attack on your mind- and for the Christian, it's main goal is to steal your joy and God's glory from your life. 

To describe my "pit of darkness" I will take you through a normal day with depression for me. 
It found me early in the morning before I would be able to form any thoughts for the day. I would open my eyes to the morning sun, but I would physically be in a fog. The sun seemed gray, the morning fog seemed morose- what purpose did I have to get out of bed. Then my question would be answered with a three year old boy, barreling into my bedroom ready to start his day with a smile on his face. With a groan from me, I would get him ready and take him to a half day preschool. Once home, I would make plans to clean the house, go somewhere for the day to get out, call a friend, have an uninterrupted Bible study. But, before I knew it my thought-out plans had taken me back to my bed where I would stare at the ceiling, drift in and out of sleep, watch a morning talk show, then set an alarm for 11:35, the absolute last minute that I could stay in bed before having to go get Dallas from school. I would make more plans to get ready (shower, put make up on, pick out real clothes to wear), so that I could have a fun day out with Dallas. More than likely, I would only accomplish getting from the bed back to the car. Once at my car, I many times thought how lazy I was for not washing my dirty car. I would pick Dallas up, come home and make him lunch- I didn't usually see a point in eating. We would play, I would clean some, then he would take a nap. Once again, I would make plans in my head to do something, anything, while he rested. But, my bed would always seem to be the best place for me to go.

At this point, you may be thinking, "That sounds like the worst day ever... Why didn't she just read her Bible and get some encouragement... What kind of mother only tends to a child's needs, putting her feelings above theirs...?" My only answer is, I don't know... I felt so guilty when I would have days like this. I would have the best of intentions to start the next day new, fresh, and happy. But I just couldn't.

When Chris caught on to my behavior, he tried to help. But, it got hard for him to swallow someone's negativity- I took everything out on him. He came to me one day with honesty in his eyes, (that man has never lied to me) and said, "I will not marry you unless you get help. This is bigger than you, but I know that it will pass for you." I was so mad. What did he want to do send me to a mental hospital (at times that sounded like luxury- no commitments, other sad people, and medication to numb the pain). I prayed about God sending a counselor into my life that would help me in the ways that I did not know I needed help. I was led to the Center for Hope in Fort Oglethorpe, and a wonderful wiser woman that brought me down to reality in our one hour meetings. She started by asking Why are you here, "My fiance told me I had to come..." What do you want to accomplish by talking with me, "I want you to tell me why I fell so hopeless and lost and how in the world to get out from underneath this anxiety." Ok, let's start by going back to the beginning... 

I do believe that the situations you face as an adolescent and the environments that you are brought up in do shape the person that you become. I do not believe that your childhood- good or bad- can be an excuse for bad in your life. However, what I had to do was to look at the choices that I had made early on. To sum it up, I have looked for love in all the wrong places, depended on guys for my happiness, kept the company of bad friends, became a teen mom, lost a scholarship to the University of Georgia, lost my "true love" (now my husband- God is good!), been through physically abusive relationships, and blamed everyone without looking to the choices I made. I wrote "forgiveness" letters to those that I felt had wronged me, and a very very long letter of forgiveness to myself. God did not like that I wasn't living for Him! I missed out on a lot and withstood too many troubles that could have been avoided had I chose right instead of wrong. All this, piled up- I am naturally an easy going person that is able to say "It's okay, I'm good!" without really thinking about how an event has impacted me. My counselor would continuously remind me that what I was going through was the "pain to end the pain". We are humans- mind, body, and spirit. Each of those areas need to be healthy!

Early on, I let her know that I did not want a prescription to put a block on the emotions I was feeling, even if it was only for a short period of time. Her prescription: vitamin D- I would go outside every day to sit in the sun; exercise- even if it was just walking, I was releasing "happy" endorphins; making a conscious effort to replace negative thoughts (of others, myself, circumstances); choosing daily to get in God's word; making my bed, getting ready for the day, then shutting my bedroom door and not laying around; eating a well balanced diet.

The road to healing was not short. I kept thinking I would wake up and feel so happy! When I wouldn't, my life would still go on (sometimes much to my dismay). I found that church and my church family were the best thing for me. Probably 1% of the people around me knew that I was actually struggling, but God always knew when to send encouragement my way. I would get texts from friends saying they were praying for me to have a "joyful day". On April 13, 2012- a year after coming to the realization that the definition of my emotions was depression- I message Dr. Craig Edwards again and was able to say,
" I am studying Jonah, I realize that I allowed God to calm the storms
all around me in my life, but never the storms in my heart.
Never ever did I believe that there was relief from the darkness and hopelessness
that I felt. Almost a year later, I can say
that I am thankful for the storms that God allowed in my life
and even the ones that I initiated...
I have allowed God to "shake me up" to get all the bad out and refill my cup.
Your book was a major stepping stone in my life to seek counseling 
and say that I was depressed."

Whitney Gallaway, presented a message to the college and career ladies at Parkway one Wednesday night. I had previously heard her speak the same message, but this time she went further. Jonah was running from what God called him to do, to go to Nineveh and preach to the lost nation (Jonah 1:2). For me, running from things in my life had caused me my happiness and led to depression. Without that whale swallowing up Jonah, he would have drowned (vs. 17). Depression was my whale. Jonah then chose to cry out to the Lord after three days and three nights in the belly, and God showed him mercy (Jonah 2:1-2).
"O give thanks unto the LORD ; for He is good; for his mercy endureth forever." 
Psalm 136:1

I  let depression make me feel that I was weak and incapable, guilty and unworthy, unneeded and unwanted. And honestly, those things are true! BUT through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ- my sins are forgiven! My life has purpose- for God's glory. Satan may be able to come to me for a season, but through this trial of depression, I have been strengthened not just in mind but in spirit and my faith. Satan can attack you at your STRONGEST point(s). My joy is my strength! And I cannot let Satan try to rob me of that.

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself
and take up his cross daily, and follow me." 
Luke 9:23

"... weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
Psalm 130:5

"(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty
through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself
against the knowledge of God,
and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" 
2 Corinthians 10:4-5

*I would encourage everyone, going through the trial of depression, who knows someone with depression, who could be an encourager someday to someone with depression, to buy Dr. Craig Edwards book, "What Christians Need to Know About Depression". You can purchase the book here for only $7 from his home church, Mayberry Baptist in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. If you are not able to purchase the book, I will gladly buy it for you. It is that important to me for you to read. 

I thank God for the blessings in my life!


  1. Beautiful. I'm glad that you were able to recognize the depression and come out of it.

  2. I love you. You are an encouragement to me every day.

  3. Thank you for sharing! I am definitely going to be getting that book!