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Saturday, 19 March 2016

Dear Depression



Dear Depression,

I can really only write you this letter because you're not currently around. When you are, it's very difficult to see you. It's very hard to see anything other than a blank of darkness, and you don't seem to be anything very separate from me. But while you're away, (feel free to stay away as long as possible), I thought I'd write.

So, dear depression.

I suppose in many ways "dear" seems utterly inappropriate. You have not been kind to me, and to many others I know of, know and dearly love.

It took me years to recognise you. When you came up in conversation, you were so very good at drawing my attention to my own past, my own failures, my own sin, as explanations for the sadness you convinced me I deserved. You had me believe a whole host of things instead of believing I was depressed: that I was just especially bad, especially condemned, especially worthless, especially socially malfuncitonal.

When I first sought treatment you told me I was treating sin with medicine. But after the pills got you to pipe down a bit, I finally began to know something about you.

You've sat on my chest on countless mornings; you've been condemnations' megaphone; you've been an ugly neon sign pointing me in the direction of self-destruction and self-harm. You've known my weakness and you've wielded it against me; you've sharpened its blade. You've loaded my heart with sadness and taken hope captive. You've turned up uninvited and made nothing appealing to me but sleep.

I wish I never had to see you again, I wish your influence and reach was gone, because life is dark enough without your contributions.

But, dear depression, there are some things I think you should know.

When I was a teenager, and you told me that I was the worst human there was, when my dreams and thoughts were heavy with destruction, and when my thoughts were dark and landed in my conscience with pangs of horror and shame, when hurting myself seemed like the only option left, you took away every way for me. Except for Jesus.

Jesus became my way. You shut all the doors to freedom, but Jesus told me in the darkness: his blood was shed for mine. His blood was enough. Age 17, you made the cross even more beautiful to me- it was such a relief. You had me believing I was the worst of sinners, but Jesus said he came for the worst. You didn't bank on Jesus being sufficient for the worst of condemnations you brought- that even for the vilest, most self-absorbed, wretched girl, he might hold out forgiveness. But he did; Jesus became my way.

When I went to university, and you told me that I couldn't leave my room in halls without bringing shame on myself and the gospel, when it took me minutes and then hours to leave for a shower because I was so afraid of how I would mess up, when I believed you, and so gave up on freedom and parties and friendships and showers when I needed them, you took away every hope I had of justification. Except for Jesus.

Jesus was my justification. You blocked off my joy and life, but Jesus told me in the darkness: God is the One who justifies. He was my justification. Aged 20, you made the cross even more beautiful to me- I was acutely aware of everything I wasn't, and it made Jesus, standing in my place, my only hope.

When two years of ministry in France had left me feeling stripped of everything, and you told me that my hopes for ministry were ashes, that I was friendless and hopeless and fruitless, when my identity felt like rubble, and you told me I was inadequate, insufficient, stupid, and I believed I was spiritually barren, Jesus was my righteousness.

Time and time again you jumped on the band-wagon of my sin and my weakness and used it to say: no way forward. You are cursed. But Jesus told me in the darkness: I became a curse for you. He said, whatever else is happening, it cannot be a curse. His showed me his scarred hands in the darkness.

And because you'd had me so convinced that I had nothing but wretchedness, the hands held out to me were beautiful because they were my only hope. I had no other refuge.

Depression, I don't blame you for everything. Of course, my sin would have me say it's all your fault. And you would have be believe it's all sin's fault.

But the faithful grace of Jesus means that ultimately, it doesn't matter- because in my sin, and in you, my depression, he's been working, and he will be working, relentlessly for good. You have influenced my life greatly, but you're a speck compared to Jesus. And where you have changed my life, where I've felt most broken, most hopeless, you've sent me running to the arms of Jesus. You have made the gospel sweet to me. If I had never known you, but for not knowing you I would have known Jesus less, then I would choose to know you all over again.

So, dear depression.

I am grateful for the times you've been a friend to grace; you've chased me from the paths of ease, to storm the secret place.

That said, I won't miss you when you're gone.

And you will be, completely, one day soon.

*** 

I thank You for the bitter things
They’ve been a friend to grace,
They’ve driven me from the paths of ease
To storm the secret place.
--Florence White Willett


He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21: 4 

5 comments:

  1. I've recently come out of months of depression. I have bipolar so my depression can't be treated in the same way as it triggers mania. But since I've changed meds and discovered that I have a real future in spite of my illness, my life has changed. I used to sleep 12-14hrs a day. Now I only need about 6 or 7.i feel productive and creative, I'm able to take on life again. I love life. Yes, I'm scared the depression may come back. But if it does, I no longer see it as a death sentence. I've tasted who I truly am, and I won't easily forget. I wish you well on your journey, there is hope for us all. Even through dark nights of the soul when we turn away from Him. He is faithful.

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  2. Praise God for Revelation, for the day when there will be no more suffering, no more pain, no more tears. Last Good Friday, I nearly died. This Good Friday, I am alive and filled with the love of Jesus. I know I may become unwell again but I trust in that amazing day when I see my Lord face to face.

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing part of your stories! I'm sure he's doing more than even all the good you see in and through you! He redeems! And then some! Much love in him to you both, and happy Easter!

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  4. Thank you for beautiful words! Beauty in the darkness, that is very true.
    Since I was a child I suffered with anxiety, anorexia, depression, hypochondria. Anorexia took overhand age 12-22, after that anxiety in various forms. Became a christian as 25, in the middle of a violent marriage. After some more years, left as a single mother.

    I have struggled a lot with understanding Gods love. It was easy to relate to His anger and hatred for sin, but Him loving me? Can I really be saved? Am i really saved?

    But the Lord has showed me mercy and grace, carrying me through all circumstances! Even when some christians told me, especially as an divorced single mother, I had no hope of a secure future, God told my heart that He would give me a new life!

    Today, some years has passed. Im now in a radical different situation. Married with a wonderful christian man, having security for my child, and soon our family will grow. Secure, loved and finally ready to believe in Gods love! I still struggle with anxiety from time to time, and have not a normal relationship to my body. But, now I have lernaed to lean on Gods grace, mercy and His promises to protect us. Psalm 91 is a great comfort when Im overwhelmed with fear. I actually se the dark feelings that emerge sometimes still as sobering reminder about my weakness and need for Christ. It also keeps me humble, that I am grateful for.

    Without the past trials and tribulations, I wouldnt be where I am today. God has truly taken the ugly and shameful, and turned it into something beautiful and valuable! Even if I could not see it then, in the utter darkness, I can see it today and am so, so grateful!
    Let us always trust in His mercy and in His promises, even when it feels impossible!

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  5. Really beautifully well written. You have a gift for from-the-heart writing. I didn't know you well at uni but have followed your blog,from Facebook. Thanks for bravely sharing and speaking out about something that affects so many but is talked about too little in some Christian circles. (Although thankfully not my current church I should add!)

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