Depression and the Faithfulness of God

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I want to testify about the faithfulness of God.

And I want to talk about depression.

Here are two things that can simultaneously be true: a person can be depressed and believe in the faithfulness of God.

I know there’s a lot of buzz around about the importance of not stigmatizing mental health issues or people with mental health issues, but let me throw my hat into the ring. Because I want to share something very personal: I am depressed. I have been depressed for a good long time. And for a good long time I did all the “right” things – I woke up each morning before dawn, got on my knees, worshipped, studied the Word, declared His (very true) promises over my life and my family’s life. I talked to some friends I trust about the things going on with me and asked for prayer and accountability. And it was all good, really really good and I learned so much about the Lord. In the midst of that season of battling depression in all the “right” spiritual ways, God somehow graced me to be able to complete my book, to take two overseas trips to speak to women leaders about the faithfulness of God, and to keep moving forward.

But it wasn’t enough. Even after doing all of those things right, my depression did not get better – it, along with my life situations, got worse.

The truth is, my family’s life has been thrown topsy-turvy this year. MY life has been thrown topsy-turvy. Some of the things I and we are dealing with are intensely personal and I cannot share them publicly for the sake of my family members’ privacy. But I will tell you this – there hasn’t been a single day that has gone by without having to walk through trauma of some kind on some level. And my mind and heart haven’t been able to bear up under the constant duress and the weight of it all.

So though I have clung to God, though I have held fast to His promises (and have faithfully been teaching others to do the same), I recently came to a place of mental and emotional weakness that I have never experienced before. Honestly – for a while there I literally felt as though I was losing my mind. We’re talking fetal position in bed weeping type stuff. We’re talking screaming at the top of my lungs in the car type stuff.

And I’m going to be honest with you – while I knew I needed to get professional help, I also knew that there were people who would view this as a weakness, as a sign of failure. People who would judge me and make me feel ashamed if and when I told them what was going on with me. And that makes me mad.

It makes me mad because, just like so many others have said, if you have a physical ailment, you deal with it. Why should it be any different with a mental or emotional one? Just because the ailment is unseen does not mean it is not serious. Honestly, most of the trauma we are dealing with daily in our home is because of unseen ailments and the intense isolation it can bring when people just have to take your word for something (and possibly don’t because they can’t see it).

It also makes me mad because so much of this is cloaked in spirituality. It’s this “better than you” mentality that is just so very dangerous in the Church. “I am not depressed even when I go through hard things, so I am better than you; my faith is stronger than yours.” This is not loving or kind or the way of Christ. It just isn’t. So as someone who has always been vocal about loving Jesus and His way, I wanted to come out and be vulnerable about my struggles in hopes that it may allow someone else to get the help they need, too. Because you are worth it. You are worth it to Jesus.

Currently I am taking anti-depressants and getting therapy…two things I would have not only been terrified of a few years ago, but also would have been ashamed of or poo-pooed because of the way I was groomed to believe life and God and people work. But now I am diving all the way in, because I want healing and I want joy and I want my life back. I want to remember who Gabi is and why she used to have zeal for living. I want to be able to get my head above water so I can see the sunrise and know that, even if the night is long, joy is coming in the morning.

 I have a long way to go, and the triggers and hard things in my life aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so I have to learn how to cope with those, too, while maintaining some sense of not-going-crazy-ness and being a good wife, mom, and human being. And you know what? I know for sure now that there was no way I would have been able to figure all of this out on my own, even with all the prayers and meditations and speaking the promises. Why?

Because God designed it this way. He designed us to need each other, to need the wisdom of others, to not be such strong little islands that we can drift away from other parts of the body and sustain on our own. He doesn’t want us waving to each other saying, “You good? I’m good. Bye!” There are things I am having to struggle through and learn about that I have to learn from someone else (therapists, doctors, books, friends, and people who have been through what my family is going through), just like there are things that I can teach others because of what I have learned and walked through. This is the symbiosis of needing each other. And it’s beautiful.

Never before have I been more thankful for people who know more than me about things I really need to know about. It has been such an intensely humbling and beautiful process to expose my weaknesses to people who just simply know more than I do. I even cried when I admitted to my doctor that I was depressed and she was so kind and helpful that I kind of just lost it. She helped me understand what was going on in my mind and why medicine would help, and I’m so so glad I listened to her. The same goes for the therapist that is working with our family. She knows what we need to do for our hearts, minds, words, and actions in order to work through what we need to work through. Honestly, we wouldn’t have made it without her.

Since I was very young people have been looking to me for answers, for leadership, for guidance. I was fooled into believing that I needed to have it all together and to be self-sustainable in order to qualify for leadership. I thought that if I showed a crack of weakness that there was something wrong with me, something wrong with my faith. Now I know that an integral part of faith is recognizing our helplessness and saying, “I have absolutely no idea how to get through this. Help.” And then accepting the help God brings in whatever form He chooses to bring it. I am absolutely certain that I wouldn’t make it, that my family wouldn’t make it, if we hadn’t cried out for help from God and accepted the people and things He has been providing as answers. And I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how He intends it. Not because He is mean, but because He is KIND.

Do you realize that the intimacy and intricacy of God’s Love is so intense that He cares more about you and your heart than what you can accomplish or the impact you will have by carrying out His purposes?

Listen to me carefully: God will never make you pursue your purpose at the expense of your heart. GOD WILL NEVER MAKE YOU PURSUE YOUR PURPOSE AT THE EXPENSE OF YOUR HEART!! He cares so so so much about YOU, just you, only you, that He will cut down every choking vine, kick down every bolted door, and knock away every boulder that may be hindering you from experiencing the fullness of His Love for YOU. He will fight with tears in His eyes to see you FULLY FREE from any bondage that you are in and any chains that have been thrust upon you by any broken relationships, situations, or abuses that you have been through. His death on the cross is the most vivid evidence of the extent to which He will go to see you FREE and to help you realize that you are LOVED without condition.

So while yes, I am depressed, I am also insanely grateful. There’s this deep deep pool of gratitude right in the middle of my soul, a gratitude birthed from the knowledge that God is literally using this season of intense heartache to expose the mess of me, to love me through the messy process of healing and restoration, and to allow me to learn what it really means to be known by God. It is humbling me. It is breaking me. It is making me see and wrestle with ugly lies that are rooted in the core of my being. And I am in the process of being set free. And so sings my soul, thank You Jesus for loving me this much.

Hallelujah, He truly does work all things together for the good of those who Love Him. I will not stop believing that, even in this dark night. I will believe that this valley is for my good, for my family’s good, and for the good of those who will come after us as we declare His faithfulness.

Oh Jesus, I Love you. I Love you so much.

You are good. You are good. I still believe that You are good. (<-if you are depressed - click this!)

Lord, show me your kindness and mercy,
    for these men oppose and oppress me all day long.
Not a day goes by but that somebody harasses me.
    So many in their pride trample me under their feet.
But in the day that I’m afraid, I lay all my fears before you
    and trust in you with all my heart.
What harm could a man bring to me?
    With God on my side I will not be afraid of what comes.
    The roaring praises of God fill my heart,
    and I will always triumph as I trust his promises.

You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping.
    You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle—not one will be lost.
    For they are all recorded in your book of remembrance.
 The very moment I call to you for a father’s help
    the tide of battle turns and my enemies flee.
    This one thing I know: God is on my side!
I trust in the Lord. And I praise him!
    I trust in the Word of God. And I praise him!
 What harm could man do to me?
    With God on my side I will not be afraid of what comes.
    My heart overflows with praise to God and for his promises.
    I will always trust in him.
So I’m thanking you with all my heart,
    with gratitude for all you’ve done.
    I will do everything I’ve promised you, Lord.
 For you have saved my soul from death
    and my feet from stumbling
    so that I can walk before the Lord
    bathed in his life-giving light.

Psalm 56:1-4, 8-13 TPT

 Living as a God-dreamer can be tough - it’s a journey fraught with both danger and adventure. Need encouragement for your journey? I hope you’ll check out my book, The Footsteps of a Dreamer, and corresponding 11-week workbook, The Dreamer’s Atlas, on Amazon.

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