Last week, I hit a pretty big low. Doubts filled my mind about whether God is using this depression for good in my life.
As I thought of the road ahead and imagined how many more times I might struggle with depression based on how many times I have in the past, it felt like too much to carry. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I was losing hope. More than that, I found myself embittered over something I felt God hadn’t provided for me.
Jim pointed out at dinner one night recently that I seemed really bitter about not having a support system. All the articles, blog posts, and books I’ve read over the years about postpartum depression stressed the need for a support system. Somewhere along the way, entitlement snuck in that I wasn’t aware of until recently.
Entitlement to a support system.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have had people that have been a support to me over the years. But often it feels like it has been one single person in each season of my life as opposed to a “system.” And even then, something is different about having family nearby. There is often a freedom in asking for help from family that is harder with friends, even close friends. Family has often seen us at our worst. If we have a healthy family, we can come to them knowing we are loved and accepted, even at our messiest. We can be vulnerable and ask for help.
In a sense, I had been harboring an increasing bitterness towards the Lord for feeling He had left me to fend for myself by calling Jim and I away from family to do ministry far away and allowing depression with very little help on top of it.
Out of the blue, God spoke to my heart on a Thursday morning as I laid in bed just waking up. I heard Him ask me a question:
“Do you want to see your grandchildren, Marissa?”
Well, yes, Lord I do.
“Do you want Dawson and Brennan to experience the pain of losing a parent at a young age? You haven’t had to experience the pain of a loss like that.”
No, I don’t want them to.
“But isn’t that what you are essentially signing up for when you are despairing of life the past couple weeks?”
Because that would be the natural repercussion if I wasn’t here anymore. While I didn’t want to inflict self-harm, I just wanted God to decide that my time on earth was done so I could find relief. Didn’t He know this was too much for me? That I needed a support system to get through this depression?
So, I opened my Bible after hearing these questions from the Lord and found myself at Psalm 95 and then 94. Two different verses specifically stuck out to me:
“For he is our God.
We are the people he watches over, the flock under His care.”
The words “under His care” stuck out to me. And,
Unless the Lord had helped me,
I soon would have settled in the silence of the grave.
I cried out, ‘I am slipping!’
but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 96:17-19, NLT
God spoke directly to the bitterness in my heart, to my thinking He had let me down in the “support system” department of life. I could relate to the idea of “settling in the silence of the grave” and telling God, “I’m slipping.” But what hit me was the action words describing what God does in these verses, words like “helped,” “care” and “support.” What more, the fact that in the two weeks prior, it wasn’t just a few doubts I was battling but a mind filled with them. And God doesn’t condemn me for them but is telling me He offers comfort that brings renewed hope and cheer. Wow. I love how God’s Word speaks directly to our unique situations.
A book I’ve been reading recently by Laura Story called When God Doesn’t Fix It, challenged my thinking in areas where I felt “let down” by God. She reminds us to look at Scripture and take what we are disappointed about and see where it has been promised in Scripture. Often, we have expectations of God that He never promised us, Laura says.
God never promised me in Scripture that He would give me a support system, but He did promise that His love would support me if I cried out to Him.
Do you feel your foot slipping? Do you wish for the silence of the grave? Cry out to the only One who can truly care, help, support, comfort, cheer and renew our hope. He is waiting for you to come to Him and He is able.