“Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.” Psalm 42:11 (The Message)
I’ve been sharing for the past two weeks about how God burned the blanket of depression that had weighed heavily on my shoulders for years. Within the first two weeks of that healing, the enemy tried to derail me with circumstances that were less than ideal and I wondered if the blanket was returning.
I braced myself for its weight to settle back down. I reminded myself with Scripture that when God delivers a person, it’s for good, not a temporary Band-Aid. And I praised God for the healing that He had instigated, He had given, choosing to believe it was permanent, not temporary.
Then God reminded me of a healing He had performed in my life in 2016, a healing that wasn’t on my radar but one God knew I needed. I speak about the journey of healing from a fear of winter driving in Spoken from the Heart: Walking in Freedom. God took an over 15 year fear of winter driving and healed me from it, one I had learned to accept as normal but He chose to release me from its grip. God brought to mind the memory of how I felt the first time I realized what it felt like to be “normal” when driving in snow and ice. Instead of having that death grip on the steering wheel and living in fear that we would all die every time a snowflake fell, I drove cautiously and defensively but could look up and even acknowledge the beauty of the season. That didn’t mean I actually enjoyed every single winter drive I took, but it did mean that I had graduated to living with the normal dose of caution that most Michiganders face with the elements.
It was then I was able to stop being afraid that the blanket of depression was going to settle back onto my shoulders when I least expected it. It was then I could praise God with more than just my lips but with my entire self. It was then I could look up and start to notice how green everything was around me. How alive and… yes, full of joy I started to feel on occasion. I started to feel joy. A little bit here and a little bit there. Not always but I noticed that I started to smile more, laugh harder, and that my smile and my laughter reached my eyes. I didn’t live with the heaviness I had lived with for so long. I was living lighter… and lighter felt joyful.
It wasn’t instantaneous. I still get sad. But there is a distinct difference between a bad day with sadness and the heavy weight of depression. I still am burdened but it’s a different kind of burden. I don’t feel hopeless anymore… the burdens I feel are for people who I so desperately love and want them to want to know Jesus personally, but they don’t. It’s for people who seem trapped in situations that don’t want to break free. It’s a burden and a brokenness for people and situations… very different from the heaviness of all consuming depression. And it feels good.
I finally got up the nerve to share with my husband the freedom God gave me from depression. He allowed me to share with him my feelings. I’m pretty sure he’s noticed the lack of certain statements that used to pepper our conversations constantly, statements that stemmed from the depression and not from my true self. I hope he notices that I feel more connected to him emotionally than I have for years. I believe that’s because that barrier of depression that was between us has been burned. Not lifted… burned.
At the time I’m writing this, it’s been almost eight weeks since God burned the blanket and I’m ready to share that freedom with you. I can say with honesty that it’s gone. Burned. Ashes. It’s never coming back. Do I still need to choose peace at times? Yes. Do I get sad and feel burdened? Yes. But I believe I’m now feeling sadness and burdens the way a person without depression feels them – deeply, with a sense to bring them to God and lay them at His feet and then the ability to do just that. Lay them at His feet where they belong. Where they can be answered because the One who answers has them. And it feels good.
Do I know why God chose to burn my blanket instead of using medication or diet or exercise to control it? No, I don’t. But I believe that because He chose to do that, He wanted me to give Him the glory for that healing and let others know it was Him who did it. And as I love to say, because it’s the truth, “what our Father is willing to do for one of us, He’s just waiting to be invited to do and much more for you. All you have to do is ask.”
While God burned the blanket after two days of consistent prayer, it took four years of bringing this burden before Him for me to be in the place where I could hear His invitation, dig deeper, and recognize the true miracle that He performed. And when I say God gets all the glory – I mean that with every breath I’ve been given. God burned my blanket and it is gone.
© Cheri Swalwell 2017