“God’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked.” Psalm 9:9 (The Message)
My relationship with God has deepened during 2017. While I still hear His still small voice, sometimes as a whisper, other times as a billboard, He has begun to use other means to get my attention too. God invited me this past spring to dig deeper about a hurt He knew I struggled with and desperately wanted healed.
I have suffered off and on throughout my life with depression. However, I have always been hesitant to acknowledge it because I was afraid of being judged. I figured since I was still capable of working, taking care of my family and I wasn’t on medication, I didn’t qualify to acknowledge this heavy blanket that would settle over my shoulders for no apparent reason. I would justify that it was situational because our family was going through difficulties and “who wouldn’t be sad or feel hopeless at times?” It was normal, I was fine… but, I wasn’t.
I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t want to be put on medication because medication and I have a long history of strange side effects.** I didn’t have enough will power (or so I thought) of sticking with a strict diet to eliminate foods that could contribute to depression or an exercise program to help combat depressive symptoms naturally. In fact, one of the first things that drew me to my church was the testimony our pastor gave of how God freed him from a lifelong burden of depression. I wanted that. I didn’t know how to get it, but the Holy Spirit nudged me enough to take notice to say, “I want what he has.” I started praying for God to heal me… supernaturally, with earthly resources – I didn’t care how, I just wanted the blanket gone. I prayed for almost four years and instead of seeing improvement, it seemed to get worse.
It wasn’t until God invited me into a conversation with Him this past spring that I began to realize just how much depression had stolen from my life. Like I said, I was a functioning depressed person… but God showed me I really wasn’t. While I still checked things off my “to do” list, I was missing out on a lot. I wasn’t fully giving myself to my husband or kids. I couldn’t. When the heavy blanket would settle over my shoulders, usually catching me off guard, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. I wasn’t really alive and at times I would even say I was barely surviving. It stole my joy. And I felt guilty that I couldn’t “snap out of it.” I felt guilty I couldn’t pray it away. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong and why I couldn’t just “be happy.”
I’ve talked multiple times in the past here on this blog about Eyeore moving into my house and pushing Tigger out. This spring, God opened my eyes to realize it was more than just situations our family was dealing with, it was the blanket of depression. While there was a type of pattern to the blanket settling over me, it was still random enough that I never knew what would trigger it or how long it would last. I would still smile on the outside, but I knew the smile didn’t reach my eyes because it couldn’t penetrate my heart.
Come back next time as I continue to share what God showed me.
**Author’s Note: Do I think that all depression can be healed by God supernaturally? Yes, I do. Do I believe that God only heals depression supernaturally? No. Do I believe He will (or can) sometimes heal it with the help of medication? Yes, I do. I believe that God uses many different ways to bring healing into people’s lives. I believe that the most important thing a Christ follower can do is listen to and obey the direction of healing that God prompts him or her to follow.
Healing can look different for everyone. Some are healed through medication, some are healed supernaturally. Some are healed through exercise and strict diets. I just knew, for me, medication is not my friend. I was briefly put on medication when I was in college and the side effects outweighed any possible benefit. God allowed me to contract meningitis and through that illness, I was stopped cold turkey from the medication and began a long recovery process from the complications of the multiple spinal taps performed. I knew, for me, medication was not the best option in my healing from depression. I have many friends, though, who have found healing and help from medication with their symptoms. There is no judgement in the above testimony – just my own personal experience with medications which target the issues of depression.
© Cheri Swalwell 2017