Owl's Head Lighthouse, Owl's Head, ME

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In time of need

Thoughts and feelings swirl. So many conflicting emotions threaten to smother. The palette of life becomes muddy with colors running together. No beauty can come from this. It is a painting of turmoil and despair. Hopelessness reaches its bony fingers into the mind and cuts off connection to reality. No one can love. I can't love.

These are the feelings of one who suffers with depression. Millions around us suffer in this way day after day. I have been that person. From the time I was a child, the feelings of self-hate and despair would overwhelm. When those feelings come, the soul pushes away from the world. Reality only heightens the pain. Some go to drugs or alcohol, for others they may become compulsive in any number of different areas. Anything to numb the pain, the hopelessness. For me it was sleep. Sleep was the only relief from the sense that nothing will ever change, I am stuck here forever.

There is no better word that I can use to describe depression than hopelessness. It partners with despair to leave the victim hiding away like a person hiding from an intruder in their home. "JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" I have called out to that nameless demon that oppresses without relief.

Throughout my life I have constantly struggled with identity. Who was I? How could I be a Christian who had given her life to the Lord and still be controlled by these types of issues? As I have grown older, my symptoms have often been almost invisible, at least to those around me. Often I am told, "You are doing so well." And I think, you know they are right. I am doing better....but why? I believe that experience has taught me the warning signs to watch for in myself. Someone once told me that depression itself is not sin, it is what we do with it that can lead to sin. I believe that. When I struggled with identity, I felt torn between two different personalities. I felt crazy. Since then I have realized that I have come to view the depression as a person. I can sense the presence of 'him', and at times, I still panic with the thought that I cannot escape this intruder.

In Ephesian 6 we read, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of wickedness in high places." Some people have trouble seeing that as a reality. I don't.....I have seen the shadow of that power, as have so many others that have faced this intruder called depression.

I can tell you that Christians, in general, caused me more pain and grief than anyone else during the worst years. I do not intend to debate theology on this issue--only to share so that more might better understand the pain of the depressed around them. From the outside looking in, many people feel they understand the problems and solutions of those who struggle with depression and panic. Many are ready to offer their opinions, much like Job's friends did. If that is all you can offer, then stay away, but, if you have thick skin and the ability to just be there, then go. Find those around you who desparately need you and just love them unconditionally, without judgment. And thank the Lord that you were spared that particular affliction.

If, like me, you understand because you have lived in that hiding place. If you have felt the cold grip of those fingers of hopelessness, then please know that you are not alone. The God who made us is not surprised by our weaknesses. He knows the demons that nest at our back doors (for we all have them), and He weeps with us. Outstretched, nail-pierced hands are held out, waiting for His weak and weary children to have the faith to run into them, out of the range of "the fiery darts of the wicked." (Eph. 6:16b)

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:15, 16)

Pray, pray, pray.....no matter which side of this subject you are on. Pray for yourself and for those you know that struggle with these afflictions. Whether physically or spiritually induced, Satan is working at a feverish pace to slow the work of Christ in this world. He will attack at any place he can. We must remember that our Leader, our Saviour, is with us and has already been through it all. If we will hold onto Him, He will use us to further His Kingdom in spite of our weaknesses.

"He hath said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.'" (Hebrews 13:5b)

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