It's been a month and day since I posted about my ongoing confrontation with depression.
I'd intended posting much sooner than this, but as seems to be the way with the Father and I, there is a lesson to follow each of my blog posts and this was no exception.
(my own photo - taken at Hellfire Beach, WA, 2009)
This lesson wasn't learned quickly, nor can I attest to having finally conquered it, but I can say that my understanding of what triggers these dark inky depths of time has become clearer.
In understanding what triggers my episodes of depression I am able to see them coming, and as well as doing practical things - like planning relaxing rest times, eating fresh foods, avoiding sugary things, drinking lots of water, not committing to things, telling my loved ones how I feel - I run to my Father.
I cry, I groan, I even wail at Him...but I do so because just as we recognise a small child's physical weariness by their increasingly fretful behaviour and seek to comfort them and provide a bed for sleep, so too does our Heavenly Father recognise my emotional and mental weariness, and how that affects my behaviour.
Always, I find comfort in the story of Elijah from 1 Kings.
Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep (1 Kings 19:1-5).
Elijah was physically, mentally, and spiritually weary. He'd just defeated all the prophets of Baal. He ran and ran - escaping from Jezebel's threat to kill him - and finally collapsed under a broom tree. Elijah had stood for the Lord, and the Lord has answered resoundingly!
Now, I think too often we gloss over the fact that Elijah stood up to 850 idol worshiping prophets. He stood alone, his faith in our God strong and unfailing. One man's belief against the belief of a nation and it's prophets, king and queen!
And how fearless was Elijah!? Wouldn't you love to have this confrontation re-played on DVD today?
But then we read on, and Elijah is like an entirely different man. His confidence is gone, his strength has vanished, and he's no longer striding toward the 'battle', but running away.
Have you ever felt so in touch with God that you're walking on a spiritual high? Has your faith been so clear that not a single doubt has come in to cloud a difficult situation? Times when you feel as though your prayers could indeed move a mountain?!
I have - many, many times!
At times like this I believe I'll never doubt God's word again; I'll never lose my joy; I'll never slip back into the pit; and I will forge a path closer and closer to the Father every single day from now on with nary a backward glance at the past.
But then I come crashing down once more.
It's usually after a time of intense spiritual growth and conquered trials; when I've seen answered prayers and miracles. Almost every time, I would have been going through weeks or months of concerted prayer over a loved one, a sin, or a situation being faced.
It's as though all that intense spiritual adrenalin had run out, and I fall ever so low in a sorry heap, a shadow of the woman from one week ago.
My first port of call is Accusation. I get angry at myself for 'failing' God with my depression after He's been so good to me. Then I want to run away and hide from Him - and even hide from my loved ones.
The more I try to wear the happy face for others, the deeper the pit takes me. I am ready to crawl into a ball on my bed, fall asleep, and not wake up.
(my own photo - taken at Twilight Beach, WA, New Years Day, 2008)
And then I think of Elijah. I read how the Lord sent the Angel to bring him water and food, and soothe him to sleep.
I allow myself to sleep.
I allow my heart to cry out to my Father and lay before Him all my woes.
I remove the cloak of Accusation and the belt of Failure, and I remember I am human.
I remove unnecessary things from my life that I cannot deal with in my present circumstances, and I listen to my husband's whisper, "Breathe, Jen...breathe..."
I forgive myself, and I offer my all to Him once more, and accept His arms as a place to take refuge.
Though the darkness may not have lifted yet, there is a Light shining on my heart from a candle of Hope.
God bless you,