Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Personal Journey Through Depression

(This is my spiritual diary--not a diagnostic tool. If you are suffering from depression, your story is different than mine. Please remember Jesus loves you no matter how far down in the miry pit you have fallen.)

PS. 31:10
"For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing:  my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed."

   Although I trusted Christ as Saviour at the tender age of 5, ( see the post "My Story") depression has been more or less present since I was a teenager. It manifested itself in many ways: paranoia over disease,  excessive fear, and a dependence on the approval of others were just a few. Mostly I was able to ignore the symptoms--I didn't even realize there was a name for this experience--but at night my mind would run away with me.

   I was an active church member--I wanted to serve God and others. I taught Sunday school, played the piano and organ, sang in the choir, and whatever else needed done. Notice all of the "I's" in this paragraph. My performance at church was necessary for others to approve of me. The Scripture in
 II Tim. 2:15 was forgotten:
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

As I aged it was harder to ignore the markers of depression. It was no longer just the night season but also during the day-sometimes for days, weeks, and months at a time. I blamed it on all sorts of things: "baby blues", under-active thyroid, seasonal affective disorder, and others. Thoughts of worthlessness were common. My bedroom became a sanctuary--I could go to sleep and forget-until I awoke. I was still with me and we were spiraling down into a deep dark place.

   Even though all of this was happening on the inside, I was still attending a Bible- believing church. this was probably one of the biggest things that kept me sane during this confusing season. God was still reaching for my heart even though I had trampled all over His. sermon by sermon, the message of His Great Love was teaching me; however, I, too full of my own thoughts, did not understand and claim God's promises for myself.

   Then I hit bottom.

   The "Good Christian" scorned the song "In the Garden". The woman who had accepted Christ's love and sacrifice on the cross confessed that she was not even sure God loved her anymore. She was so full of herself that she walked out of her house, barefoot--and left her family thinking they were better off that way. I truly wanted to walk out of life at that moment; instead, I sat on the side of our dirt road and prayed a prayer similar to this:

PS. 38:6, 8, 15, 21-23

   "For I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly, I go mourning all the day long...I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart...For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God...Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me . Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation."

   I got up and walked back home.

   My depression did not vanish in instant. Just as we see in the parable of the prodigal son, it is quite a journey to recovery. Notice that the prodigal was already a son--he had left the safety and companionship of His Father's house. Growing in our Christian walk takes a constant reliance on God's Word and work in the life. God slowly and surely led me back to Himself. Bitterness over past failures and perceived hurts needed to be released. Forgiveness was a choice consciously made and remade.

   The ultimate turning point was found in a sermon--Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus. One sermon, two preachers on different weeks  neither knew the other, but God knew me.

   Mark 8:34b

"...Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

   My life could never again be my own--it had to be all God's. My hurt, my worthless efforts, and my emotions were controlling me. The rescue Christ brought was Himself. His acceptance , His sacrifice for sin, and His Truth about everything fills my heart so that He controls me.

   Several verses express these truths:

PS 28:7

  "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth, and with my song will I praise him."

 II Cor. 12:9

   "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

PS. 31:7and II Cor. 3:5

   Depression could overwhelm me even now; however, this weakness compels me to rely on Christ--His way and will--not mine. Jesus is my strength and greatest joy.

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