many nights I have had where I seemingly am in a 1,000 ft black hole that i cannot get out of. gut wrenching.
many days I have had surrounded by people who are filled to the brim with happiness. sunny days, for most people. they see me as I’m staring in the distance with blank eyes. heavy eyes.
“why are you acting so weird?” they ask. “are you okay? you seem sick. what’s wrong with you?”
“what is wrong with me? why do i feel this way?” i quietly utter to myself. i need to put on a smile because people don’t even like being near me. why is everyone always happy, never struggling? perfection, it seems to me.
many have said, “you know Jesus, you should be happy!”
“have you read your bible?” they nudge me again. “have you spent time with the Lord lately?”
yes, i answer through the tears, wondering when my relationship with my Lord and Savior guaranteed happiness, guaranteed pleasure, guaranteed freedom from pain.
it never did. it doesn’t.
at seventeen years old i learned that i have a chemical imbalance in my brain. depression, as some refer to it. some see being depressed as just being weak, as “well you should try to get over it and do things that make you happy. it’s all in your head.” well, my constant striving to be “happy” has taught me one of the most valuable lessons in my life. sometimes, i need to just be. be still.
in order to shake “this stupid feeling” i used to call it, many times have i turned to things i thought would bring me joy. things that this world tells me will do so, things that will make me happy and make all of my problems, my pain, vanish.
so i went out to parties to numb the feeling. i drank a lot of alcohol. i sought out men. i’ll feel better tomorrow, i say. only to wake up in that tomorrow swirling deeper, deeper.
in the book “stronger than you think” by kim gaines eckert, she talks about painful emotions.
“in order to have authentic relationships with God,” she says, “characterized by genuine trust, we have to be honest with ourselves and with him. we cannot get to that place if we hide our angry, sad or anxious feelings. instead, we need to trust God views us with infinite compassion and loves us as we are-feelings and all.”
my God invites me to come to him with every inch of my heart. to have such a personal, intimate, trust relationship with him that i run to him before anything else, anyone else. he calls me to not shove my painful emotions down. but to run to him, to sprint to him, and open my heart out wide and raw and fall at his feet with the tears flowing. because in him is lasting joy-even when i don’t feel it.
although this is not an excuse to do whatever I please, he was never angry with me when my mind got clouded and i looked the other way. he still chased after me, yearning for me to turn back to him. to come back home. he waited with open arms, undeserved grace flowing. he knows my heart. he knows the difference between immaturity and plain rebellion.
the Lord has taught me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. to stop the striving, to stop trying to change who i am, to challenge my negative thinking toward myself and my painful emotions with the truth of his word. to just be, look at him, wait on him. to cry “Abba, Father.”
i strongly believe that in just being, in truly being, sitting in uncomfortableness, sadness, sorrow- allowing ourselves to feel whatever we are feeling, we grow. we can learn to choose joy, to choose to trust our Father- even when we feel pain. by the victory of Jesus i, you, we, are not doomed to those 1,000 ft black holes.
the Lord doesn’t cause my depression, and he never has. although if i am honest with him and allow him to, if i lay it out on the table before him, he uses it to teach me obedience, to grow my heart in godliness, to make me more like Jesus.
just as Jesus learned obedience to the Father through his suffering.
so sprint to him. sprint to the one who carries you and holds your broken heart in his hands. the one who promises you that you will never, never be alone. bring to him your pain. ask him what can be learned.
kim gaines eckert goes on: “scripture is filled with examples of how, regardless of why people are suffering, God teaches them through that pain. Instead of trying to wish away our anxiety or sadness, we should respect it and pay attention to it.”
pain, in this broken world, is inevitable.
he doesn’t cause us to feel it, but he uses it.
“i waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”