2012 has been a pretty hard year on me so far, depression wise. I have no regrets about moving back home, but making new friends has been the most difficult part. I have a few friends that I have made, but no one that I can really open up to 100%. Opening up to people about my personal life is so very difficult for me. It's not something that everyone is privy to. If you've know me for awhile, you know that I'm a social person. I thrive on relationships, I need to be around people. Although I do enjoy my alone time as well, but lately all I've had is alone time. Which in my book is way too much time with my thoughts. I've tried to be social, but everyone has lives of their own. People say we'll do something, we'll hang out, but then it doesn't happen. I eventually stopped asking, I couldn't take the rejection any more. For awhile, my routine was just getting up, going to the gym, going to work, and then home. Fridays and Saturday nights spent hanging out alone, sometimes ordering pizza and praying that delivery person didn't think I was such a loser.
The devil plays on my weakness, plays on the thoughts that come to mind. The rejection, the loneliness, the feeling of being invisible. He loves when those things consume my every thought. Because when those come to mind, the depression starts to seep in. My entire mindset changes and my thoughts become thoughts of darkness, thoughts of wanting to hurt myself, thoughts of ending it all. Life becomes overwhelming. When I really start getting away from God, my life goes in chaos. Isn't it funny how that works out? And even just three months ago, my life had become chaotic and I had strayed so far away from the one who gives me life.
Ah, but this post can't be all about "Woe is me," now can it? Although I'm not very open about my struggles with depression, etc, there was one weekend where I felt no problem sharing the craziness in my head. I am not one to come right out and tell a complete stranger that I'm struggling. If and when I do tell someone I'm struggling, it's generally one of the few handful of people that have been with me through it all. After a year of searching for a home church, I was mentally exhausted from just exploring the churches, etc. I couldn't do it any more. I had gotten involved in a church near my dad's house, but never felt like I belonged there. The lady I work out with invited me to her church in Anderson. The first weekend I came, they were doing a series called "Baggage". They talked about a few different baggage areas we all possess, with the following weekends sermon being on depression. I sat in that pew knowing that God had put me in that church at that very moment for a reason.
The next weekend, I fought not wanting to go to church. I really was not wanting to go. I don't know if it was me not wanting to face that yet again, I had let depression take over my life. Or if the devil was putting those thoughts inside my head that I didn't need to hear the sermon, and I was fine. Maybe it was both, either way I knew I wasn't fine and I knew I had gotten into a deep, deep depression. I knew I was getting close to the point where I would have to put myself in counseling again. But alas, I got in my car, fighting my thoughts the entire way to church. Even fighting them in the parking lot. I forced myself out of the car, put a smile on my face, and pretended that I was so excited to be in yet a new church with new people all going, "I don't think I know you."
The music was all acapella and it sounded so beautiful to me. If I hadn't been sitting with lady who invited me, I would have cried the entire time. But you know me, I'm not about to let anyone to see my weakness, tears included. I held it together like I always do like a champ! It's pretty sad, I've gotten so good at holding tears in that I call myself a champ. Years of practice has got me there. But I digress...when the sermon ended, I felt God telling me that it was okay to let someone in, that someone being the pastor. Through my fighting, I kept hearing Him tell me that no harm or judgement would come my way if I just let this person in on what I'm dealing with. "It's okay, my child, TRUST ME." That kept playing over and over again in my head, even 10 years later, I still struggle with trusting God.
That night, I sat down and wrote a very long and detailed email to the pastor about how I struggled with depression and the want to cut myself (Something a lot of people don't know about, not even family. Well, I guess you know now!). I still didn't know why I was writing the email, but I was just following my "orders". He vowed to help me as much as he could, and said the elders would help me as well. He asked if it was okay to share my email with the elders so they could pray for me and I said yes. At that moment, I didn't feel invisible, I felt part of a community even though I was so new. Something about opening up to him made something inside of my head "click" and slowly I began to pull myself out of the funk I had gotten into. Maybe I just needed to talk it out with someone who was not in my "world", someone who was an outsider. I'm not okay, I'll never be okay. Depression will always be with me, but I can manage it 80% of the time, it's the other 20% that really knocks me down. Each time I saw the elders, they would always ask me how I'm doing, I know their prayers were working because I was feeling back to "normal", whatever that may be for me.
I am completely immersed in this church now doing Bible study, volunteering, tithing, getting to know everyone, and working on getting my membership. I am working on getting back into my Bible reading and honestly praying for people. And I have to say working their VBS was the most alive I've felt in over a year. Those kids, their laughter, their songs, their little bitty fingers holding my adult hand, just filled my heart with so much love and joy. One night during VBS, I hear God saying once again, "See? Trusting me isn't as bad as you always make it out to be. And I still love you no matter what, even when you stray. I never leave your side, never." That's what is great about God's grace and mercy, it never runs out. Even when I screw up like I do, which is quite numerous at times. God's love remains faithful.
“Grace is the central invitation to life and the final word. It's the beckoning nudge and the overwhelming, undeserved mercy that urges us to change and grow, and then gives us the power to pull it off.” -Tim Hansel