In our previous post, “The Hand of God,” I relayed my experience of being treated for clinical depression. What I left out was my experience in those months and weeks prior to counseling. The year was 1994 and my husband and I had begun our reconciliation process in our marriage. It had been two years since our initial crisis. We had attended counseling together for nine months, which we joke about now as the irony of the time period as opposed to the gestation period. God WAS birthing a new marriage relationship in us...was He not?!?!
While we both thought that we were well on our way to healing, there was a problem. During our crisis and even the time subsequent to it, I had focused so hard on acting and being all that I thought God would have me be, and all that I thought my husband would have me be, and all that I thought would be the best example for our girls to be, that I neglected to deal with the pain I had experienced.
I feel the need at this point to express a caveat regarding my depression experience. I cannot blame anyone for my response to my pain. Including and especially, my husband. I would not put that burden on anyone and I don't believe God would either. As my counselor had told me himself, he believed that I would have inevitably responded to any number of crisis situations in my life that would have had the same result of dealing with clinical depression, as I just was not equipped with the coping skills I needed to handle life's challenges. It just happened that our marriage was the catalyst God chose to use to finally deal with this Goliath in my life.
That being said, I was the one that had total responsibility to respond in a way that would honor God. It was my experience, it was my war and no one else could fight it for me. The Lord first and foremost and then the guidance from my counselor, the use of medication (for a time) and the love and grace of those around me, especially my husband and our girls are what gave me the strength to choose recovery.
The irony is not lost on me that I could not act on my feelings at the time to allow God to heal me of the immense feeling of pain I was experiencing. Had I acted on my feelings at the time, I would not be here typing this article. I had to choose healing and life and I am forever grateful for that choice God gave me a His child.
My observation in regard to depression are totally based only on my own personal experience. It's a funny thing, depression. It starts small and then eventually takes on a life of its own, kind of like a snowball barreling down a mountainside, and until it is dealt with, it will continue to consume and destroy anyone in its path. Only with intervention can the cycle be stopped. It takes immense courage from the one experiencing it to reach out for help initially and it takes great courage for the one willing to intervene when the one experiencing it doesn't have the ability to do so.
That last week before I entered counseling I started thinking that if I could just be with Jesus, I would be alright. In reality I was candy coating the starting thought process of ending my life. I can honestly say up to that point in my life I had never had such a thought, yet I had never been in so much emotional pain. I can't tell you if it was just the pain of our marriage experience or the accumulated pain from my life up until that point. I felt and still do that it was the latter. I literally felt it. A heavy weight on my chest.
Physically, I felt it. At the time when I would attempt to describe the pain, I could only describe it by literally lifting my bent arms and motioning away from me as if I was attempting to push that wall of pain off of me, because I was literally feeling smothered by it. My voice even changed, the pain was evident in my tone. Also, I just wanted to sleep all the time. I even told the counselor in my first session regarding the depression, I would be fine if he just sent me somewhere where I could just lay down and sleep.
I felt consumed and was drowning (not unlike Peter) when he focused on his circumstances and not on Jesus and at that point I did not even have the capacity to consider how to escape it, so I was succumbing to it. My snowball was barreling down quickly.
This would have been a tragic story had it not been for two Knights that came to my rescue. First of all, God is and will always be my first Knight in shining armor. He has rescued me time and time again (usually from myself) and is the only One who gets the ultimate glory. He will come and rescue me and all His saints again one day (come, Lord Jesus!) on His white horse once and for all. Revelation 19:11-16. Until that time, I believe my husband is my second Knight, the one here on earth...provided by God himself.
I am one who can say that their spouse literally played a role in saving their life. You see toward the end of that last week in my trying to fight the depression on my own, my husband led me into our kitchen and picked up the phone and called our counselor. He intervened on my behalf which was the first step in destroying the snowball. God used him and our counselor to lead me back on the road to healing and I was subsequently brought back from the brink of self-destruction.
One thing I learned about my process during that time was that I was in so much pain that I was fast approaching the point that I would do anything to stop that pain. I did NOT want to die. I just wanted the pain to STOP and I was not able to see any other way out at that time. I'm left to wonder if that is the same process that anyone considering suicide genuinely wants but may not be able to adequately convey.
Through counseling I learned that I had been deceived into believing that I could not go to God because I was carrying guilt and shame for what went on in our marriage. I was blaming myself. Punishing myself. I was convinced that my sin hindered me to the point that I could not go to God (thus the image in my mind of Him turning His back on me). Not rational at all, but I was not thinking rationally. That thinking was full of lies and deceit...yet that was the position I found myself in.
I had taken my focus off of the Lord and His truth and was experiencing another “Peter” moment. If you remember what a “Peter” moment is, it was when Peter took his eyes off of Christ as found in Matthew 14:22-33. This time I felt I was drowning and my “Peter” moment had turned into months and I felt I had begun to drown into a sea of hopelessness.
When a Christian loses hope, where does he turn? There is nowhere but a black abyss and that is exactly where the enemy of my soul wanted me. It was in that state of mind that I entered that counseling room and experienced the hand of God firsthand that broke through my darkness. Like I said in my testimony of that experience, I could not reach up to God, so He reached down to me.
I had to make the choice that day to call out to God for help. His hand was the first one reaching just as in Peter's case. I can't explain why the God of the universe would even offer to do that unless it is His unfathomable love for us. I do know He loves us so much that He would rather die than live without us. He proved that on the cross. He conquered death, He is also able to conquer our Goliath. We can live because we serve a Living God (Luke 24:5-7 and Matthew 22:32).
The song “Come to Jesus” by Chris Tomlin is a beautiful illustration that our Knight in shining armor truly does exist and He is but a cry away to ALL who believe in Him. I am living (living) proof of that! All who believe on Him are living proof of that and that is OUR song! Amen.
4901 N. Main Street | Fort Worth, TX 76179