I’ve mentioned it before, but Tenth Avenue North has a song called Worn that I believe sums up depression in Christians PERFECTLY. The lyrics are just so powerful. They speak of a beauty and hope in the middle of the storm of greatest pain.
And for me, at my lowest, they signified how badly I wanted healing. How badly I wanted to be rescued from the pain I found myself drowning in a year ago following the death of a loved one by suicide, and my own plan to do the same.
Suicide and depression are no joke. And they affect even the strongest Christians.
Depression signifies loss. Grief. Pain. Mourning.
And no matter what the ultimate cause of that loss and pain, it is very, very real. Sometimes all consuming.
I remember going to counselors last year following the death of my loved one and having them ask me, “What does depression mean to you? What does it feel like to you?”
And I would tell them it felt like being wrapped in a heavy,thick, black blanket.
In the midst of my pain, I knew logically I was blessed. And I knew that there was light just outside of that blanket of depression. I knew in my head that I had many, many reasons to live and be grateful.
And yet, in the deepest part of my journey with depression, it was as if the darkness had consumed me.
I knew light was out there. Just outside of the blanket. But I couldn’t see it. Couldn’t touch it.
It was there, I knew that. But the darkness surrounding me, I felt like I couldn’t penetrate it. The darkness was all consuming, wrapping me up in it. Where I couldn’t see the light, despite knowing it was there.
The light was just outside the darkness of that depression. It was close and yet so out of reach for me.
It was the lowest part of my life and one I’m so thankful to now be over and through.
If anyone wants to know clearly what it looks like to be on the other side of that all consuming pain, grief, and depression, I am that. I am on the other side. And I know others who are on the other side.
Because healing is possible. Very possible.
But it takes time. Jesus. And intentionality.
One of those cliche sayings we hear tossed around that sounds good and true- but isn’t- is that “Time heals all things.”
And I’m here to tell you that time does NOT heal all things. But Jesus and intentionality do.
Time makes memories less clear. So of them at least.
And time makes it easier the further from an event you go to move on.
But time by itself does not heal. If anything, time buries. It buries the pain and hurt deep down. It makes it possible to keep going.
But it does not heal. Not on its own.
Immediately following the death of my loved one, almost a year ago to the day, the pain was raw. It was horrible. And like the depression that soon followed, it was consuming.
It consumed my thoughts. My day. And for me, pain is a color and the color is red.
I know that from what I experienced a year ago, and from childbirth. That when pain is so high it feels unbearable, for me it comes a color, and it’s red. Like blood.
And in my specific set of circumstances, the pain was made worse by measures put in place that were actually meant to help- but they harmed.
Have you ever gone to the doctor and had them take down a list of your symptoms, then send you home with a diagnosis and a medicine and been told to call them in the morning?
Because in a way that’s what I had happen to me. Except the medicine prescribed made things worse instead of better.
Instead of instant healing, I found more trauma and hurt.
The so called “medicine” prescribed caused me to walk through more trauma than had it never been given.
Because in the immediate days following my loved ones suicide, and the trauma I’d experienced in that, I was made to retell what had happened. Over, and over, and over again.
And even almost a year later, retelling the details, because it was trauma in its purest form what I’d gone through. No way to sugar coat that. Almost a year later telling of what happened still causes me great pain.
A year later, in having to describe to someone who doesn’t know what I went through, it causes me very real pain to have to relive it. To relive details of those last days I wish I could forget. To relive events and words I wish had never happened. A year later it’s still terrible.
But as hard as it is now, it was even worse then because it was like a wound. Raw. Bloody. And every time I was made to tell what happened, I had to relive it in graphic detail.
And so instead of helping and healing, because of how often I was made to tell my story, instead of a deep scratch, it caused that wound to be dug deeper and deeper into my psyche.
The Bible tells us that we are to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Romans 12:2
And there’s scientific evidence to prove the power in those words.
Renewing your mind means that what you focus on will leave a lasting impression on you. In your mind. And there are actually little trails of sorts that form when we think things over and over again, whether true or false. Truth or lies. Whatever your mind focuses on, becomes a well worn trail in your brain. And the more often you go over that trail, the harder it is to form a new one.
The old one is more comfortable. You become used to thinking it.
An example of this would be a lie concerning your worth. And it could be triggered by something as small as looking in a mirror.
You could see yourself and based on what others have told you, you see your reflection and immediately think ‘Ugly’. ‘Worthless’. And so starts that well worn path in your mind.
Now it’s a lie. A horribly harming one at that. But you become so used to thinking that lie that it becomes a well worn trail in your mind.
In order to replace that well worn lie with truth, you have to be intentional. You have to speak truth out loud about your worth and your value. And you have to form a new trail. Renew your mind.
What you feed your mind is so important. Which is why it’s so important to be in the Word of God daily.
While I was at Mercy Multiplied, part of what helped in my healing was renewing my mind to God’s truth. In who I was. Because in Christ, I am valued. I am holy, righteous, forgiven, loved. I am all of those things and more.
Part of what helped too was taking this concept of renewing my mind and creating truth statements. These truth statements for me were Bible verses. And when I would be struggling with certain issues, or with memories from that day last January, I would speak them out loud over myself, reminding me of what God says about me.
“I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self control.”
2 Timothy 1:7
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” Isaiah 54:17
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promises, as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all shall reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
All told, I had upwards of probably 100 Bible verses that I would go to when I was faced with believing a lie I’d once believed. Because God’ word was truth. And is truth. It’s alive and active and relevant even today, 2000 years later.
A great resource I’d received while at Mercy was a book by Dee Chernicky called Activating the Promises of God. And in the book, Bible verses, truth statements, were listed out by category depending on what you may be dealing with that day.
Verses on peace, protection, restoration. Those were 3 topics that were most important to me. Trust, wisdom, strength- and so many more.
Time would not have healed me as I’ve been healed. No. Time does not heal all things. Not by itself.
But in seeking God, day after day, and being intentional with seeking Him and the healing that I knew was possible, I was able to receive it. True and lasting healing. Freedom from depression.
Let me make clear here too that freedom from depression doesn’t mean freedom from sadness. Sadness is not altogether bad. And it’s appropriate even now for me to be sad when I think about my loved one’s last days.
It is still normal and appropriate for me to cry at times over how much I miss him. I have so many good memories of our time together. But I am still sad over losing him, even despite knowing he too is now healed and whole in heaven.
It is normal to grieve and to mourn. Even a year later.
And healing doesn’t mean forgetting either. As I just mentioned, healing from depression and that pain and grief doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten. But this time, I haven’t buried anything.
In order to heal, I had to dig up a lot of things, a lot of pain and memories. I had to bring them to the light in order to heal from them.
But thanks to Mercy Multiplied, I was able to do that in a therapeutic, counseling setting where I was surrounded by support and love. While at Mercy, I was able to do that.
Now I realize that not everyone has the ability to go to Mercy- even though in Monroe LA they now offer outpatient services.
But what they do offer as an alternative to their residential program is the Keys to Freedom. And it’s a curriculum, a study, meant to help with healing outside the walls of Mercy.
And at Mercy they did prepare me for life outside of their 4 walls. And in order to continue walking in the freedom I obtained there, I was given tools to take with me. The truth statements being one. Staying in prayer and in the Word of God being another.
And counseling, especially faith based counseling, is essential to healing I believe. Whether a licensed counselor, or going through a support group like Celebrate Recovery with your church, or doing the Keys to Freedom as a group, all are tools to help in healing. To find true and lasting healing and freedom from depression through Jesus Christ.
If you’d like to learn more about Mercy Multiplied, or even their Keys to Freedom program, you can learn more at https://mercymultiplied.com/
You can also drop your comments below and I’ll help if I can.
In your own journey to healing and finding freedom, what has helped you? Are there resources like books, podcasts, or sites you’ve found helpful? List them below. And as always, may God bless you.