The saying, "Ain't life grand," doesn't include the word "always". There is some sort of romanticized view of life that it will always be easy, that we'll always be prepared for heartache, and that we'll always be comfortable. But, that's just not the case.
The truth is, God never said that life would be easy. He never promised that we'll be comfortable or that life won't sting. At times, that's a hard pill to swallow. For me, even though I know God's character and tried so hard to cling to His promises, I still sank lower and lower as the "tough" kept piling on top of me.
A little over two years ago, my wife experienced her first miscarriage. A few months would pass, and we would go through another miscarriage. This one was more devastating than the last. The agony that I experienced was nothing compared to the grief and pain that my wife was going through. It was tough for me to watch and not be able to help or take away the tremendous amount of sorrow she was dealing with. While going through all of this, I was serving in a church where I didn't "mesh" well with the pastoral leadership. Sticking it out and passing up ministry opportunities, I began to shut down. I longed for a church staff where we were all on the same page, where there was cohesiveness, and where there was mutual respect. As I passed up each opportunity, I began to feel more hopeless and more protective of myself. Looking back, my view from here is that that's where I began my descent into my depression.
Please don't misunderstand me, there were plenty of great things going on in my life. My beautiful, baby girl was born. We rejoiced in her arrival, and thanked God for blessing us with her. But soon after, my wife had some postpartum complications and was hospitalized for a few days. A few months later, and my wife had an elective surgery that was a little more intense than expected. She then suffered some complications that set her recovery time back a few days. As life went on for us, my mode of survival became shutting down and walling people out. This included the ones that I love and the ones that love me.
In the midst of this, God directed us to our current church. The church lines up with our view of ministry and missions, and it's right between my parents and my wife's. I became convinced that making this move would take away my depressed feelings. Boy, was I wrong. My depression still lingered. At my lowest and most desperate, my best friend spoke some hard truth into me. I had to admit that I was depressed. And once I did, there the process began of taking down the wall I had started to build over a year ago; brick by brick.
Here's my takeaway from the battle that I'm still in...
1. God never leaves. He wants me to give up all of my need to rule over my life (this includes trying to play the rescuer), and let Him take the reigns. You see, there's no need to try to rule because He is the Lord of Lords. He is the King of Kings. He reigns forever and ever. Once I realized this, it seems silly to try to play king.
God reigns over the nations; God is seated on His holy throne. -Psalm 47:8
2. As a follower of Christ, it's a necessity that I capture every thought. I've always applied this to sin as far as bad language, lust, etc. But, this also applies to the thoughts that trigger my downward spiral of shutting people out.
...and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. -2 Corinthians 10:5
As I was reminded of this, there was great relief. Literally, every thought needs to be taken captive. From the unrealistic expectations that I place on myself to the conversations with my wife, taking captive every thought that pops into my head helps me to differentiate between the reality of every situation and the unrealistic need to be guarded.
At this point, I feel like I'm traveling uphill. I feel like I'm finally emerging from the deep water that I submerged myself in. Though I'm sure I'll always have battles to deal with, the tools that have been given to me are effective.
For the one that's reading this and might be able to relate, don't wait until things get really bad. Depression isn't something to be ashamed of. People struggle, and sometimes, within those struggles, it takes help beyond our own to navigate us back above water or out of that valley. Lastly, don't be ashamed to share your struggles. The testimony of how God is healing you, is healing me, needs to be told. Don't shy away from those opportunities.