Saturday, October 12, 2013

an anchor for your soul

This is the first post in a little mini-series I'm doing on anxiety and depression...I'm already receiving many comments on my last post from women who have dealt with these issues, and I'm sure there are more to come.

I don't claim to be an expert on this subject by any stretch... I just know what I have personally gone through, and if my experiences can help someone else, than I am happy to share.

I love these words from M.E. Stephens in the comment section...

One of the most helpful things the Lord did for me to help me deal with my anxiety and depression was to put me in the same church with a pastor's wife who had been through 12 years of depression. She was such a huge help to me! She had so many observations that were so applicable to my own experiences. It was a real eye-opener and encouragement.

One passage I have remembered in passing on my own experiences to others is 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

As tough as it is sometimes to deal with, God doesn't allow these things to happen to us without giving us a time and place to reach out His comforting power to others. I also remember something a pastor we knew repeated - "Nothing is wasted with God." 

That scripture above is one that someone shared with me when I was going through an intense bout with depression, and I clung to it...because I desperately wanted to know that some kind of good was going to come from that trial.

At the time I felt like every day was the longest day of my life. I struggled to believe that scripture, because honestly I didn't feel like I would ever be on the other side of depression, reaching out a hand to someone going through it. I would wake up in the mornings - literally my eyes would pop open - and I would feel a weight on my chest. It was if this heavy thing was sitting right on top of me, and I would think - it's still here. Night time was the worst, because my dreams were horrible - it seemed like I couldn't even get away from the anxiety and depression while I slept. I just wanted out...I remember telling Sam I just wished I could get inside my body and take out whatever was causing that sickly sticky feeling of guilt and sadness and oppression and get it off of me.

I remember one night waking up from the worst dream imaginable and shaking from head to toe. I was crying and immersed in that sick feeling, and I didn't want to wake Sam up - AGAIN - to pray with me. I went on a witch hunt if you will, in my home. Was it that book someone gave me to read, that caused all these bad feelings ? I threw it out. Was it some sin I had hidden that I hadn't confessed ? I repented of everything I could think of. Was it an area of unforgiveness that I refused to let go of, some root of bitterness that was causing all this angst ? I forgave every single person I have ever had contact with, and even some I hadn't. I prayed, I cried, I paced, I read scripture after scripture, and every one seemed to point to me- somehow this was all MY fault and if I could just find the answer, I could be set free.

I rebuked everything I could think of in Jesus' name. I asked God to show me WHAT had come into my life to allow this horrible fear and depression and anxiety. I wrote all my feelings down in a journal so that I could try to figure out where I had gone wrong.

Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt. I lived with it day in and day out.

Past sins were in front of my face all day- things I had failed in, things I had thought, motives for things, things from my childhood - it was always at the forefront of my brain, and no matter how hard I tried to shake it off, no matter how many times I asked God to take that guilt away, it remained.

It took intense counseling with my pastor to convince me that I was right with God- I was a pastor's wife going through this, so I called my "area" pastor. He was able to take me through scriptures and help me to see that my salvation was- and always has been - based on the word of God, and NOT my emotions.  I am so thankful for the hours I spent (spread out over several months) with my pastor, who helped me to recognize that what I was going through was anxiety and depression. I would not have been able to see that on my own, because I had never dealt with it until that point in my life.

This post isn't meant to offer all the answers to how God brought me through that season of life- because He did bring me through. I can't even make myself feel those things right now if I try. At that time I felt like I would never be able to be looking back at those feelings- it felt like I was always, always going to live in that black hole. I'm writing this post to maybe help someone see that if you can identify with those feelings, perhaps what you're going through is anxiety and depression. And to let you know that you CAN come through to the other side. There is hope. I know when you're in the dungeon of depression it feels like there's no way out. Believe me - I know.

Before I continue any further in writing about these issues, I just want to offer you an anchor for your soul...and it's found in Jesus.

I could not begin to address the issues of anxiety and depression without first making sure my heart was right with God- the One who made me and knew how to heal my soul. Am I saying that becoming a Christian is going to be the instant fix to your situation, that it will wipe every trial away like a magic wand, and you'll never face another moment of depression again ? I can't say that in honesty- because I went through these things as a Christian. What I am saying, is that I cannot imagine someone going through the kind of hell I went through without the grace and help of a loving and merciful Father to bring me through.

Do you have that today ? You can. It's not about joining a church or a religion - it's about entering into a relationship with the creator of the universe- the one who loves you more than you could ever know, and wants to help you through this.

It's so simple...

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
Romans 10:9-10

If you don't have that relationship with God, you can right now...God is so ready to hear your prayer. Pour out your heart to Him in prayer ...

If we tell Him our sins, He is faithful and we can depend on Him to forgive us of our sins. He will make our lives clean from all sin.
1 John 1:9

20 “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me. 
Revelations 3:20

I'll write more later- I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

Lots of love,



Kelsi Moore said...

One of the most beautiful talks I have ever heard about depression I heard just last weekend. It is called "Like A Broken Vessel". It can be found at the following website. It is a beautiful reminder of how to rely on Christ through even our darkest days.

cathy said...

beautiful, raw & honest
I've lived it, as well

THANK YOU dear, dear friend for your expression of eloquent


Leah said...

Thank you for sharing. I just found two good devos on the youversion bible app on these topics.

Sonya said...

Thanks, Patti! I don't really struggle with depression but my husband does. It has been difficult for us both and what you said I relate to because of what he does. He earnestly seeks the Lord but feels condemned, wakes up with anxiety, asks me to pray, or doesn't. Sometimes it seems like a spiritual attack on us. He goes through it every time I'm pregnant and you can pray for us because I'm pregnant now. Thanks. We all read your posts so I'll share with him tonight!

Amy said...

I do not know how I missed the last post- but I'm so thankful I didn't miss this one. Thank you so very much for stepping out on faith & sharing something so personal. I don't know that full blown depression has ever come into play for me, but anxiety is a very real nemesis around here. I worry about marriage, health, my children's futures, should we have more children & how might that negatively affect all of the above. The list goes on & on. It's a heavy load some days. And often times I wonder, how could Jesus really love an anxious flake like me. But He does- I don't understand it but I'm beyond thankful for it. Love your heart, friend. Looking forward to upcoming posts :).

teal915 said...

Thank you, Patti. I love this. I'm going to share it. I'm looking forward to your other posts. God will bless them.

Joy said...

Thank you for sharing this!! I am so glad I found your blog! Praise God!

cara said...

Thank you for being so honest and real in order to help those still bound in those "prison walls." I love how you are first pointing to the ONE that can heal all and knows all. I also cannot imagine going through anything without our anchor in our God through His Son Jesus Christ!!! Praying through this series. xoxoxoxo

nicole said...

This series is definitely going to help other Mamas. Blessings to you!

The Kadel Kids said...

Thank you so much for opening your heart about this...God helped me to over come this in my life also.
It is good to hear of Gods faithfulness even in our hard times. you have a wonderful family:)

Erin said...

I am a college student who has just started my battles with anxiety and depression. I had never had an issue like this before. Sure, I had been sad or scared... but not this.
I began having panic attacks and constantly feeling as though one was just around the corner. I started thinking too far into things which caused depression. I've only been going through this for 2 months now, but let me tell you, it's long enough. I am finally seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel but I am hardly myself. I have a blog that no one particularly reads (which is fine...I really started it as an outlet for myself and if someone reads it If not, my job is still done.) that I have discussed my struggles a little. I have never come out and said what my issues are to anyone but my closest friends and my parents. I also started going to counseling sessions once a week with my preacher (who also happens to be one of my professors. I go to a private Christian school) and it has helped so much.

At this point, I'm able to shake those horrid feelings most of the week, but I still have my down days for sure. I don't think anyone can fully grasp how awful it is until they face it themselves.

God has been my constant in this all. I had many long talks with Him when I battled insomnia due to my anxiety. Even though He doesn't directly talk back, He tells me so much. I just have to remember to listen! I still don't know the root of my issues or my triggers, but I know that my Father in Heaven is there to carry me when I cannot carry myself.

Your words are so raw and so true. Thank you so much!

Amy said...

Thank you so much for this.

Unknown said...

thank you so much for your raw honesty... i had a baby a few months ago and have been feeling exactly as you described but didnt think it could be depression bc im a chrisitan and no chrisitan ever talks about being depressed or feeling oppressed... it so encouraging to know that even if it feels never ending through christs faithfulness he will bring us out on the other side stronger and closer to him than ever... im clinging to that truth