On the day I realized I was struggling with depression (or as I called it then – “the d word”), I was sitting in the back of my friend Laura’s car. God had given Laura some wisdom and she was asking me all the right questions, all the questions I most didn’t want to answer. I really, really thought I was fine, guys. I was explaining to Laura that I was probably just tired and it was normal to feel like I felt, but she kept prodding in the most loving and gentle way. Finally, she went with the silver bullet. She stopped talking about how bad I felt and she started telling me how GOOD I could feel. She described what healthy mental and emotional balance would look like.
I remember starting the sentence strong, “So you mean, you’re telling me…” and then I just started sobbing, “you mean I could feel BETTER?”. It hadn’t dawned on me that the heaviness and brokenness could potentially be gone. I was so deep in darkness, I didn’t really believe light was for me any more.
Soon after, I started counseling and one root untruth came to the surface over and over and over again: I thought everyone would be better off without me. It sounds dramatic and wrong now, just typing those words, but in those days – it was that one thought that consumed my brain. My kids would be so much better with a different mom. My husband should’ve married someone else, I could give him a second chance. My friends will maybe like me better once I’m gone – all my rough edges will smooth out in their memories and God will get more glory from my personality once I’m gone.
Christ alone and the small shred of desire I had pumping in my heart to NOT hurt my family was all that kept me from taking my life in those days. Even though I thought they’d all eventually be better off, I didn’t want them to deal with the trauma of the immediate implications.
But you guys, in His great mercy, healing did come. Through hours of counseling, through seeing some doctors, through running, through dancing, through a lot of prayer and some good old downright miraculous work of the Lord. A few months later, I would look for despair in my head and my heart and I couldn’t find it. It was so far gone. At first, I just saw glimpses of light and then it changed so that my days were mostly light with only glimpses of dark.
Time passed. Hard things happened. Great things happened. I learned to let the Lord love me and I learned to let people love me and I learned to love Christ in me so much that I could apply the gospel to myself and genuinely know and believe – the world WAS better with me in it. God appointed me to my family and my kids and my particular people, so that I could love Him well and point them to Him. And even when I screwed up and failed, He still got glory, He still did work. I didn’t want to die anymore, not just for other people. I didn’t want to die, even though I wasn’t scared of heaven. I didn’t want to die because I wanted God to squeeze every ounce of glory out of my life for as long as He wills.
And this past week, I was running on the bridge and I saw this older man, well past his seventies, trucking his fit elderly self up the bridge. He was running with what looked to be his grand-daughter and I had this sweet vision of running that bridge, my bridge, one day with my grand-daughter or grand-son. And I thought, Oh God – Let me live for a long time!
And I was so jarred. And so taken back to those thoughts a few years ago. I felt Holy Spirit rush from the tip of my head to the bottom of me toes and say – This, sweet girl. Is healing. Not just not wanting to die, but hoping to live. As long as you can. To the glory of God.
So I’m writing to you, like you’re sitting in the backseat of my car like I sat in Laura’s. And I am pulling over on the side of the road so I can look you in the eye and you can hear my voice. You can cry and you can shake your head and tell me all the reasons you’re ok. But if you feel it – there in the pit – the feeling that this world would be better without you. YOU ARE WRONG. You’re here for a reason and it will get better. It will get better. You could feel better. You could one day, maybe five days from now or maybe five years from now, you could want to live.
Hold on for that day.
Keep fighting for that day.
And I’m fighting for you.