“Where has the year gone?” That’s the first thought that springs to mind when I start to reflect. The second thought is, “Wow. I am not the same person I was a year ago.”
Who’d have thought a year could make so much difference in a life? The words I use cannot possibly begin to express how far God has brought me over the past year; through despair and to a place of hope and a place where I am growing ever more firmly rooted in him.
A year ago I was about as close to the bottom as I could get. Depression and anxiety were choking the life out of me. It wasn’t how I’d pictured it would be. I thought that once I was home with the boys it would be sunshine and joy and memorable moments. There were memorable moments all right; moments in which I lost my temper and screamed at them, moments in which I failed miserably to be the gentle parent I wanted to be, moments in which I withdrew from them because I was empty and simply had no more to give to them. Every afternoon the anxiety would start to build, choking the life from me. I lived in fear of the next moment that I would lose my temper, the next time that I would fail. And on top of the fear was anger and disgust; anger at myself for failing, disgust that I wasn’t stronger.
God had a plan though. He always does, even when we feel forgotten. Sunday after Sunday my heart would cry out to him. Songs of joy were turned into songs of entreaty as my heart cried out to him, often with tears running down my face. And finally, God spoke. Not audibly, not with a quick fix solution, but with some well-timed sermons and some Holy Spirit prompting that it was time to let go of my pride and my determination to fix everything myself and get some help.
And so my journey through the year started. I’ve learned that God doesn’t always offer instant healing from everything that ails us, be it physical or mental. Sometimes he uses a variety of ways to bring about his purposes. And I’ve had to learn to be ok with that. I’ve had to learn that my therapist was probably right in calling my insistance that if I just believed enough, just prayed enough, just did the right things my depression would vanish a form of the prosperity gospel. Oh, that one rankled. But what gets me the most is the realization that it had less to do with depending on God and more on my stubborn insistence that if I tried hard enough I could solve my problems myself.
And I can’t. I couldn’t then and I can’t now. It’s been a lesson in humility; but in humbling myself I’m finding healing. Healing through modern medicine, and healing through learning to be open with friends. It isn’t easy to say “Hey, I struggle with depression,” to drop the facade that in Christ everything is happy, happy, joy, joy. But I’m learning, and in learning to embrace the pain I am learning to walk through it to a deeper joy. Without the fuzz of depression clouding my mind I can begin to grasp grace. I can begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together and to see God at work in my life.
He is working; I know that without a doubt. I know in my heart that I have been forever changed. I made a life out of facades and masks, God is pulling them away and revealing his workmanship. And no matter how many times I fall, no matter how many times I end up with mud on my face, he will be there to help clean me up again. His plan is still unfolding.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)