In recent days I have had so many of you friends tell me of the deep waters you are going through that I felt compelled to write this post. If you are walking in a valley right now, I hope you find this helpful. If you’re on the mountaintop now, I hope this post will enable you to encourage some friends.
In doing research for Fully Alive, I read a long forgotten entry written in my journal at one of the lowest points in my life. Back then I was struggling with debilitating depression. Reading what I wrote drove me to my knees in thanks for the full life I am living today. I was instantly reminded of how God’s grace brought me out of that pit.
I debated whether to share this entry,but I have no choice. Especially after encouraging you to journal about your life. This is exhibit “A.” Confirming evidence of the power of God’s love.
Here are some excerpts from the entry I wrote almost ten years ago:
I am paralyzed. Going through the motions without life. A zombie. The glimmer of hope seems so small compared to the weight of my sin and pain. Am I Judas? Am I Peter? I don’t know which one I will emulate in the end. I pray for joy. I pray for the cleansing of grace. I can’t see tomorrow from here. Yet I must plan for it. I feel like I am trying to build a house with the almost certain knowledge it will be destroyed. It is difficult to find the strength to drive the smallest nail. It is impossible to carry a heavy load of lumber.
Any moment of joy at seeing the house take shape is quickly torn to shreds by the vision of it’s destruction. The blueprints are covered with blood. Not just the blood of (me) the builder but all those who labored with me. And those who saw the hope of shelter within the walls. My bones are weary.
My strength is gone. I can do nothing to dispel the darkness that slowly envelops me. I will not curse God. It is myself that I curse. That I cannot feel his presence is my fault. I have built walls that are impenetrable. I can’t break through to see God. I long to see his face, to hear his voice. I long for his comfort. I am undone.
My only prayer is for a glimpse of your face. A ray of hope.
Please God Please.
It’s hard to believe I was there even as I read this today. Very few people knew the depth of my struggle. Those who did would later ask what I did to find my way out of such a pit. The ONLY thing I did was lean toward God. It was God that did something. I cried out to Him like a seaweed covered prophet in the belly of a fish and as with Jonah, God heard my cry. I felt like I couldn’t get to God but He got to me. He had never left.
To my friends who struggle with walking through the valley, I want you to know…
…there is hope!
One day I wrote in my journal. “I can see colors again. The world is no longer shades of gray. Storm clouds threaten but they are gilded with light, evidence that above them the Son still shines.”
On another day I wrote, “I was drowning. The harder I tried to make it to shore the harder the tide fought me. But my toes have touched sand. A foot hold! I am going to make it.
One other entry in my journal is to encourage people who have been discouraged by those experts who criticized them for taking medication to aid their battle with depression. It was the only entry for that day and it read… “It’s Monday! “Thank God for chemistry!”
Be encouraged my friends. The road to life is punctuated with some big potholes and setbacks, even deep valleys that seem impassable. If you experience any of this, it is not because you have been singled out for punishment, it is evidence that you are alive.
Here are a few intentional actions that helped me. Perhaps they will be helpful to you.
Look outside yourself. Try to find someone you can encourage every day. An outward look can lead to inward peace.
Look for the little blessings that God brings every day. A chipmunk stretching in the sun. A shaft of light cutting through a room. The sound of laughing children.
Turn off the television. Almost everything on television is depressing, especially the news. Read encouraging material.
Read the Bible I’m serious! Whether you consider yourself religious or not, you will be amazed at how many of the saints struggled with deep feelings of despair. Why? Because they were real people and they were alive. See how God blessed them in the midst of difficult times.
Choose to not wallow in the past or give a nesting place to fear.
Franklin Roosevelt said, “The only fear we have to fear is fear itself.” He wasn’t a theologian or psychiatrist, but he was right.
Get the medication you need to help you get a foothold in the sand and walk to shore. Medication is as much God’s gift as the food you eat. Most of today’s meds don’t make you abnormal, they help you get back to normal.
Lean toward God, he is already leaning toward you.[reminder]Please comment and share suggestions that have helped you.[/reminder]
Read the comments and encourage each another. (Outward look)
For men and women I highly recommend Fully Alive by Ken Davis. This is not a sales campaign it is a response to the number of people who have found real help by reading it.
For women, I recommend A Thousand Gifts by my friend, Ann Voskamp