I’m going to be very transparent here. Naturally, that’s the only way I know to be. See, the past couple of months have been, not that great. In fact, at moments over the past month, they’ve been just plain awful. So many people look upon the things I write and perhaps assume my life is a Mary Poppins, practically perfect journey, but they would be mistaken. Even joy-filled women, victorious in Christ, suffer. I have been in a time of suffering, in the valley of the shadow of death, in a season of mourning. The worst part? I couldn’t pinpoint the reason for my grief.
Over the past couple of months I’ve found my mood declining, and the reason not easily discovered. I blamed some of it on the dreaded hormones. Since turning forty my body had begun a cruel roller coaster ride of emotional surges, and despite a couple of different medicines prescribed by my doctor to try and level things out, it had continued its ups and downs. Forgive the TMI, but I had actually been on my menstral cycle for five weeks straight recently. It was at that point I felt like I hit a rock bottom of my emotional well.
I know the mental and emotional discomfort I have been under has been the same for many people. Isolation, financial loss, and sickness have spanned the globe. As a nurse I’ve experienced the harsh work of dealing with a pandemic and the pain of being helpless to save the many lives we’ve lost. As a mother I’ve experienced the challenges of keeping children at home for extended periods, and as a working mom I’ve tried to maneuver through my daughters’ worry over me working in such close proximity to a sometimes deadly virus. I guess I say all that to get across that a downtrodden mood isn’t exactly unexpected, but that somehow doesn’t make it feel any better.
As a Christian I know I’m not immune to anxiety and depression, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me that it’s hit me so hard lately. You see, I know that this world is not my home. I understand that Jesus is in me, and I am in Him, and we are seated with the Father in Heavenly places. Just recently as I prayed for His help I saw a vision of Jesus and me walking together in a field of grain. There was such peace in that moment. And I suppose knowing that this world is temporal and finite still couldn’t seem to remove me from the grip of hopelessness that tried to take me. That bothered me.
I was praying about it one day and Paul came to my mind.
1 Corinthians 12:7-10 Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I didn’t know if depression was Paul’s thorn, but it certainly seemed to be mine. I know that many mornings recently I would wake up feeling so sad. My life is amazing, my family is wonderful, and on an off day of relaxing I certainly had no reason for a feeling of hopelessness. All I knew was that in those feelings I had to be extremely intentional to remove myself from them. Or rather, I knew I couldn’t extract myself, but I knew who could. And in those feelings of melancholy I would seek the Lord in earnest. In fact, I have never sought Him so hard as I have since April. I have never experienced the Holy Spirit so strongly as I have this year. So while 2020 has been terrible, it’s also been a blessing. In the mess I’ve discovered Jesus more deeply. In feelings of helplessness I’ve found my hope can only be in Him. I mean, this world sure ain’t helping.
The Lord has been speaking so much to us personally, and we are on the edge of a major stepping out. As we prepare to move forward in what God has for us, we have felt the resistance from the enemy. My husband, a man who has never been prone to depression, has also recently experienced the downtrodden mood that has no physical cause. We’ve been partaking in communion in our home, and that helped tremendously. The girls have been experiencing headaches, tummy aches, and trouble falling asleep the past few weeks, and this too isn’t normal. We recognize the attacks we are under, and again it has us clinging all the more closely to Jesus. But please, if you think of it, cover us with prayer frequently.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds it. I do know who holds me, who holds my family. I do know that when feelings of hopelessness come, they are a lie, and I know where my hope is found. I suppose the past few months have been an exercise in this battle for truth, and thankfully I do not fight this battle alone. For now, my thorn remains, but like Paul, I can delight in a weakness that causes me to more desperately draw from His strength.