I feel like there is a common lie that floats among the Christian community.
It’s something that people often fixate on, and hold close to their hearts. It’s a phrase that’s so common, even among well-rounded and grounded Christians who are wise in their years and have Jesus in their hearts…even they believe this lie.
It’s the lie that “God will never give you more than you can handle” or “God gave this to you because He knew you were strong enough to deal with it” wrong. wrong. WRONG.
Nowhere, in any version of any bible, is that statement ever uttered. No verse anywhere. God will absolutely give you more than you can handle, more than you could every possibly carry on your own. If we can grasp that, the question then becomes, why? Why would my God do such a thing to us? My answer? After going through various situations and scenarios, my answer is, to show us that we cannot do it without him. No, He’s not punishing us, we make our own choices of our own free will, and that free will often affects other peoples lives like a domino affect. So why allow the hurt? The hurt, allows us to reach out to God. Sometimes even forces us to cry out to God, deem ourselves unfit to bare the burdens, and give them up to God. If you truly believe that God doesn’t ever give you more than you can handle, I wonder at your walk as a Christian and how you’ve managed to escape all of the ridicule, burdens, hurt and loss. I guess i’m glad for you. I’m glad you’ve never felt so swallowed up by something that you wanted to give up life, friends, family, because it’s too much to bare. I genuinely hope you never have to feel something like that…but for me? I feel it every day. Every single day is a battle. It’s a battle i’m constantly losing on my own. I’ve tried and tried, for years, to do it on my own, because somewhere along the lines I believed the lie that “God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle”. I was wrong. So so incredibly wrong.
I thought for so many years that If I was suffering, it was because I’d done something, it was because of sin, or I didn’t believe hard enough, I wasn’t doing all I could do, I wasn’t giving it my all, I wasn’t committed enough, I didn’t evangelize enough, I didn’t worship hard enough, I didn’t know enough of the bible, I wasn’t enough. If I was enough, then God would take it away. I somewhere along the lines started to believe that If I was good enough, God would take the pain away. I started to believe that “God did this because He knew I could handle it“. So I had to be strong, all the time. Not let anyone see me falter as a Christian. I couldn’t have bad days, because those bad days meant I wasn’t close to God. They meant that I wasn’t a good enough Christian at all, because God protects His own and If I was His own, I wouldn’t be going through all of this….But that’s not how it works, is it?
None of my readers will know this, and very few of my friends and family know this, but it’s something I want to share with everyone, because it’s part of who I am, part of my testimony. I feel like I need to share this because maybe, just maybe, someone out there like me believes the same lie I did. That they’re unworthy, not enough, not strong, and that’s why they’re suffering. Darling, you couldn’t be more wrong.
So here it is. I have Major Depression.
It’s difficult for me to finally tell people about this for many reasons. One of the main ones being that, it means something is wrong with me. I don’t like being that girl. The one who is depressed, the sad one, the one with problems. The burden, the downer. Whenever I’ve told people about my depression, the first thing I usually hear is something along the lines of, “Wow, I never knew.” I’ve become very good at hiding it. But the signs are always there…you just have to look close enough.
So what does it mean? What is “depression” really? “So you’re just sad all of the time or what? You’re emo now? Everyone feels sad. You’re not unique. I felt sad once too, it was exactly the same. You’ll get over it eventually, just stay positive.” No. Not exactly. Depression has many different levels, types, triggers, it’s very different for everyone. Mine is something I’ve struggled with for years and years, and probably will have to deal with for years and years to come.
The following is an entry from a journal I wrote in a few months ago. It’s probably one of my best descriptions of my state of being to date.
“It’s difficult to explain, depression and anxiety. Really, there are many variations and combinations, a simple definition doesn’t do it any justice at all. The best way I can describe to you, to people, is that it is like this:
Depression, for me, isn’t all about being sad. In fact, I very rarely actually feel anything. Most of the time depression means for me, that my “normal” is more of what I like to call a “flatline”. I’m neither incredibly sad nor am I overflowing with Joy at any point in time. If I feel something, it’s for very very brief periods of time. Seconds, even. If i’m lucky. I can emote, and show emotion, tell someone I love them and mean it, but in my chest, my heart never jumps. I don’t get butterflies, I don’t get overwhelmed with happiness or even the presence of God. I can’t feel even that anymore, but I know He’s there. Instead of emotional extremes that people so wrongly associate with Depression (confused with Bi-Polar Disorder) I feel, nothing. I don’t get mad, or offended. I don’t feel love, or pain, unless it’s an extreme physical pain and even then it’s only for a brief period. It’s more of a constant nothingness. And that is my normal. It’s all I know. Unfortunately, it’s also a cycle and that’s where the anxiety has now come into play over more recent years. My depressive “normal” has begun, over the last 5+ years, to cycle into a much deeper depressive state, almost like clockwork. I call this, for lack of any better term, my “dark days”. Such a depressive-cliche phrase, I know, but what better thing to call them? They are full of darkness, that’s all there is. I can almost pinpoint, to the day, when these will happen. It’s pretty fascinating honestly, that my body is so perfectly timed. These days, are exactly what you would think a stereotypical “depressed person” would go through. I cry, and I cry not for one thing, but for everything. All of the things i’ve done wrong, all of the ways I don’t measure up. I endlessly pick at myself, all of my flaws, and this cycles down into an even deeper place. My mind seems to be kind of hulled up, like a dam, most of the time. But during these days, it all comes flooding out. Every shortcoming, all of my worthless traits, they all become front and center in my mind and it becomes such a heavy, overwhelming, thing that often I don’t even want to move. I just lay there in my self-inflicted prison. The best way I can describe this to anyone who’s never gone through it, is that it’s like your body is destroying yourself from the inside out. Your own mind is your worst enemy. It’s like pouring buckets of molten-hot failure down into your skull, letting it fill your lungs and suffocate you, all while you flail and gasp and try to grab for anything, any lifeline at all. It’s horrific and it’s real and I wouldn’t honestly wish it on my worst enemy. And it’s all happening, constantly. I become so distracted and consumed by what’s going on in my own mind that the rest of life becomes like a thick fog. I’m distracted, can’t remember things, either sleep for hours upon hours, or get hardly any sleep at all, I become restless and anxious. And anxiety, well, that’s taken on a life of it’s own too. My body just, overreacts. I become almost paralyzed, or even the other extreme, I become shaky, antsy, fidgety, my breathing accelerates to the point where it feels like i’m running a marathon, but i’m not moving at all. I’m aware, the entire time it’s happening, that it’s an irrational response. I know there’s nothing to be worried about, no one is staring at me, talking about me, judging me, and yet I still become almost panicked in these situations. It makes me want to jump out of my own skin…or off a bridge…anything to make it all stop…”
When I was younger I sought out temporary ways that would make it all stop. Silence the voice in myself telling me I was worthless, and irrelevant, and ugly and unloved. So I turned to self mutilation. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t look down and see all of those scars I dug into my own skin just to feel a second of relief. It doesn’t make sense to anyone outside of those who have ever experienced those feelings. Those moments of clarity where the pain was so bad that nothing else mattered, and you were finally able to breathe because everything else melted away. If only temporarily.
As I grew older, I sought out more permanent forms to silence that voice. I even attempted to take my own life mid-way through my senior year of high school. I had thought it out for weeks. I was even driving home from church when I did it. My plan wasn’t to hang myself, or bleed myself out, overdose on pills and alcohol, I planned on letting go. That’s it. All I wanted to do was let go. So, one night in the middle of the week, I was driving home from a mid-week service, through a dark back-road in my hometown that has a blind corner. You drive straight at a wall until the last second when you have to make a sharp right. My plan? To let go of the wheel, and let whatever be, be. Even if that meant no more me.
I cannot, or will I ever be able to explain what God did for me that night. I couldn’t tell you what the message was at church even If I tried. It wasn’t a message that triggered anything in particular. No major event had happened to cause me to do something. In fact I had felt like I was even more at peace than I had been in months. I just decided, this is it. I kept my foot on the gas, leaned my head back, closed my eyes….and let go of the wheel.
At that exact moment a song that had been playing on the radio said “slow down, slow down, before today becomes our yesterday…slow down, slow down, before you turn around and it’s too late.”
Now tell me that wasn’t God. I dare you. Look me in the eyes and tell me in that exact moment in time, when I wasn’t just ready to let go, I did, and those words ring out loud and clear in my car. Tell me that’s not a savior who loves me reaching down to change my life. Those words will forever be etched into my brain. (click here for the song I heard that day)
Needless to say, I opened my eyes, grabbed the wheel, and burst into absolute sobbing, messy, tears. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. I just want it to all go away, and I didn’t know how. I had forgotten everything. I had forgotten how powerful my God is. Look what He can do! He knew all I needed was a sign, someone to reach out and tell me, “it’s okay, just slow down and let me have your burdens and your pain and your hurt and worry and anxiety. It’ll all be okay.”
God is, was, and forever will be my all-mighty, powerful, ever-present even in the darkest times, savior. Always. I may not always feel it, but it is always true and He is always there. This is just a fraction of what i’ve been through. Most of which I could never get into text or words even if I sat for a year and tried. I guess my goal in this is to let you know how flawed I truly am, and that any good you see in me, is from God. It’s all Him, always. I hope if you are going through, or have gone through Depression of any kind, know that your feelings are valid. You as a human being are allowed to feel things! You’re allowed to feel sad, and depressed and alone and ugly, for a time. But there’s a point where you have to read the truth and know that you are loved, and cherished, and promised, and blessed, and righteous and His. It’s a life-long struggle. It’ll never totally go away, but you can share the burden with someone who was more than willing to give up His own life for you, very long ago.
I hope that you know wherever you are today, tonight, this morning, that Jesus loves you. He is almighty, just, powerful, kind, and loving beyond any earthly measure. You don’t have to do it alone. God is here to shoulder your hurt and your pain if you’ll just let him.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
I love you.