Sunday, October 9, 2016

Depression to Joy

          Life is hard, and even though an encounter with God can change us, it doesn’t mean that life is suddenly perfect. God does promise to be with us through our struggles though.

For the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Here is my friend Laura’s story:
         Depression grabbed hold of me from a very young age, making life dark.  I always had a void, and I tried filling it with many things (food, exercise, bad relationships) that never satisfied and left me wanting more.
         Raised in a Lutheran church, somehow I missed that God wanted a relationship with me.  To me church was recitation, rituals, and traditions.  In college I reached a point where I decided to walk away from God because I didn’t see what he was doing for me. 
         I convinced myself for many years that taking full control felt great, but in reality I was selfish and out of control.  Depression, insecurities, eating disorders, destructive relationships, I was constantly managing how in-control I truly was.  Life blew up on me in my late twenties when I made a series of decisions that sabotaged everything important to me.  I was completely self-centered and used lies and deception to maintain an image of perfect control while doing whatever I wanted.  I was miserable, didn’t value my life, and landed in the hospital several times within a few months.  It was during one January afternoon, after what would be the last hospital stay, that I remember feeling for the umpteenth time that hollow feeling, uncertain how to move forward by myself. 
         It was in that moment I felt hope wash over me like never before.  It felt like someone lifted me and carried me when I didn’t have the strength to lift myself.  It was a power that could not be explained by anything except God.  For the first time in my life I realized I was in need of a Savior. 
         I ruined my life, was drowning in the guilt, and I couldn’t make things right on my own.  I was a mess and an enormous failure at being perfect.   God showed me his face that cold, sunny afternoon, and I knew in my heart it was Him. 
         I decided to start a new life with Him.  It was a shaky road for a while, but I was determined to abandon my previous life and ways.  God empowered every step and continues to do so.  He brought me into beautiful, healthy relationships and helped restore relationships.  He blessed me with a beautiful family and filled that huge void in me with love…His love.  My love, fire and passion for God grows stronger the more I learn about His Word, talk with Him, and live life with Him by my side. 
         Everyday life is not without its challenges.  I still battle the enemy’s attempts to ensnare me with insecurities, doubt, and emptiness.  Those attacks are at times more focused and frequent than before life in Christ.  However, I have hope and strength through it all.  Instead of fighting those battles with my own feeble strength, I draw close to God and protect myself with His armor.  I take comfort that I am forgiven and righteous.  I am saved and will live forever with Him in heaven.  I have a heart for God and a heart for people.   However He chooses to use me during my time on this Earth given those two passions, I’m savoring every step of the journey.” 

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

Have you ever been depressed and needed God to lift you up? What did you do to reach out to Him?