Why Depression Won’t Win: An Easter Reflection

I am a girl who feels she is not enough. Perfection seems like it should be possible and yet I fall short. I snap at my kids. I am jealous of other women. I am irritable, selfish, materialistic. I see my sin. I struggle with depression, shame, and fear. And I know I would be stuck in a spiral of hopelessness and darkness if it wasn’t for this one truth:

Jesus loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

 I MAY NOT BE GOOD ENOUGH, BUT I AM LOVED

Jesus saw in me a girl worth dying for. He saw me as a girl who can be redeemed.

In Him I am new. The old is gone, the new is here. I may still carry shame and unworthiness in my heart, but the cross and the empty tomb proclaim that I am valued and set free.

When I reflect on His undying love, I have hope. When I remember His promise of abundant life, joy creeps into my soul. When I begin to comprehend that the grave couldn’t hold Him and darkness couldn’t hide His light, I weep with relief. Because if He could withstand the darkness of death and rise in light, maybe He can bring unending light into my life.

Because of Him, I live.

Christ is risen, friends.

Blessed Easter.

-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the
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As I Felt Discouraged this Week :: Jesus died for this

Tim and I were fighting, again. I don’t remember what we were fighting about, but I do remember the feelings. I remember my gut churning because once again we were not communicating well. I remember my heart racing and palms sweating, because “what if we can’t find our way out of this one?” I remember the heaviness settle into my heart as I mourned the loss of our friendship. I remember deep sadness because I had hurt him and he had hurt me.

But I also remember turning to Tim, grabbing his hand, putting it on my heart and putting mine on his as I desperately crying out, “Jesus died for this!”

***

Last night, I was down. An acquaintance’s words stung me, my boys’ fighting stressed me, and my exhaustion emptied me. Shame spoke that I had failed as a mom. Fear spoke that I couldn’t get better. Depression spoke that life is just too hard. I wanted to cry. I thought I should pull myself together. I wanted to get over it. But I couldn’t.

So, I turned to my favorite numbing behavior (Facebook) and started scrolling through my feed. One of the first posts I saw was the one I had scheduled days earlier on my blog page:

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Peace washed over me. Joy swept me up. Truth called out: “Jesus died for this!”

For years I thought about Jesus’ death as something that would only affect me in the after life. Jesus died to save me from hell. Jesus died to forgive me of my sins (and I’ll know what that means someday). But according to this verse, Jesus carried our present day hurts and sufferings with Him on that cross. Jesus took our shame, our pain, our guilt, our rejection, our hatred, our fear – all of it with Him onto the cross.

With Him, death died.

With Him, we can live.

“Jesus died for this!”

In my heart, I see myself handing Jesus the burdens He promised to bear. He bore my shame on the cross. I give my shame to Him. He held my heartache in His heart. I entrust my heart to Him. He experienced the rejection I face. I receive acceptance in Him. 

Jesus died so that I can live.

Jesus died for this.

What is holding you down? Where do you feel hopeless? Jesus died even for this. Yes, this.


 

#mamasnightlight is a nightly Bible verse on my Facebook page. I need the truth of Scripture in my life and thought maybe you could benefit from it, too. To receive notifications of these nightly verses, “like” my facebook page, then from the drop-down menu select “get notifications.”

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The One Thing I would say if I Could Speak to the New-Mama-Me

Yesterday was my son’s 6th birthday and today this beautiful picture my sister made showed up in my Timehop feed:

Kaihoi's Pics 137

I look at my son, my face, the quote, and I feel a surge of emotions. I remember how shortly after this picture was taken I became overwhelmed by Jack’s inability to latch, I remained in a semi-state of shock from an emergency c-section, and I began to feel incapable of mothering my son. A feeling that lasted for months.

Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “dear.” And I think to myself, if I had 5 minutes and could tell my new mama self anything, knowing what I know now about myself, about my son, about my marriage, about breastfeeding, about having a c-section… what would I say? Let’s find out…


 

Dear New-Mama-Me,

Congratulations! You hold in your arms the little boy who will steal your heart.

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Right now he is a stranger and it feels odd to hold him, and that’s ok. But in a few short months you will begin to feel that you would die for him without second thought. You will pick him up while he is sleeping because you will miss holding him. You will delight in his contagious laugh and his natural empathy for others. You won’t remember not being his mama and you would never go back.

But between now and then, you are going to struggle. And when I say struggle I mean you are going to scare yourself because of your extreme feelings of fear and pain. This is the hardest thing that is ever going to happen to you. The greatest transition, the greatest task, with the most difficult emotions.

Though you will love your son, at times you will resent him.

Though you will love your son, he will make you cry.

Though you will love your son, his birth just stirred up your hormones and you will be depressed again.

And I know how scary depression is for you.

You feel out of control, terrified of what it could bring, and are at a complete loss for what to do about it.

New-Mama-Me, if I could go back and tell you one thing it would be to seek help. I know you don’t like your OB much and she has the intuition of a gnat. When she says, “Don’t you just love him to pieces?” Answer honestly and say, “No.” You will probably cry. And that’s ok. You need to cry. You need to get help for this thing called Postpartum Depression before you’re looking back at the first year lost to illness.

Don’t worry, even if you don’t tell her the truth, you will be ok. Jack will grow to be a compassionate child. And you will get help for your depression during the middle of a 6 inch blizzard on an October afternoon.

But just in case you can hear me, please don’t be afraid to ask for help. Because you’ve never done this before. And it’s hard. It’s hard for every New-Mama. I don’t think it comes naturally to anyone.

Oh! One more thing you need to know: You’re doing the best you can. And that’s good enough. I mean it.

 

New-Mama-Me

I’ll see you soon,

Me


This post is part of the larger Five Minute Friday community found on Kate Motaung’s blog. We write, for five minutes, together. No major edits. No second guesses, just writing to connect, to grow, to be. We would love to see you there.

“Praying Our Goodbyes” – Words of Wisdom from Joyce Rupp

Day 9 of 31 Days of Connecting

Thank you all for your encouraging words concerning my recent posts. It’s healing for me to finally write about it – I’m overjoyed that God is using it to heal you as well. 

When I began to grieve, I realized quickly that I needed help. Because I had shoved some of my feelings down for well over a decade, I didn’t know how to mourn my losses. Writing them down helped – but it only helped me realize that they were there.

How does one begin to sort through the mess of pain and tears that causes your stomach to ache, your chest to heave, your heart to burn? How does one begin to understanding the feelings of shame, abandonment, and helplessness that comes with grief? How does one begin to see why we feelings like these are good, helpful, or even healing?

When I began to grieve, I turned to a book I had on my shelf for a couple of years, but had never opened. It is called Praying Our Goodbyes by Joyce Rupp. Within pages, I found hope and confidence that this journey through the depths of heartache was exactly where I needed to be.

I would like to share some of Rupp’s words of wisdom with you, today. I hope that as many of you are seeking healing in your own seasons of mourning this book could become a resource for you, as it is for me:

One author speaks of an “existential loneliness” that permeates every human spirit, a kind of unnamed pain inside, deep within us, a restlessness, an anxiety, a sense of “all aloneness” that calls out to us. I prefer to name it an “existential ache.” It is a persistent longing in us, and it happens because we are human. It is as strongly present in us as autumn is present in the cycle of the seasons. I believe that this ache is within us because we are composed of both physical and spiritual dimensions. Our body belongs to the earth but our spirit does not. Our final home is not here, although “here” is where we are meant to be transformed by treasuring, reverencing and growing through our human journey. No matter how good the “good earth” is, there is always a part of us that is yearning, longing, quietly crying out for the true homeland where life is no longer difficult or unfair. 

Every once in a while we get in touch with this truth in us. It is not a sadness exactly, not a hurt or a pain as such, but some tremendously deep voice that cries out in bittersweet agony… It is the autumn in all of us, the truth that life can never stay just as it is.

This inner ache is felt especially when we sense the mystery of life or the supreme uniqueness of who we are. It is present when we recognize the fleetingness of all that we know and all that we cling to upon this good earth. We have a strong longing at this moment to hold onto all of it, and we realize the impossibility of doing so. We seldom put words onto this melancholy. We only dimly sense its presence. But it colors our moods and pervades our activities and weaves its way through our unconscious. It is present in our edginess or in blue days that seem to have no cause. It raises its voice in our inability to concentrate or to feel full satisfcation even when everything in our lives is going smoothly. It makes itself felt when, perhaps just for a brief moment, we recognize our mortality and the swiftness with which time passes…

This loneliness, paradoxically, joins us with all others in their aloneness. There is a great strength and comfort in this. It is only when we are willing to meet the absolute truth of that aloneness within us that we are no longer alone… that we are able to break through to a level of consciousness that assures us of the magnificent bonding that we have with other humans and with God. We begin to see the ache as a natural part of our humanity and of our inner journey… We realize that we are not the only ones who are going home, that we are not the only ones who are still unfinished, that we are not the only ones whose lives calls us to many partings before we are one with the eternal hello

If we are attentive to the inner ache, and if we grow in accepting its truthful message, then we will more readily move through our own particular goodbyes. We will be more open to the growth of the human journey.

– Joyce Rupp, Praying Our Goodbyes, (Ave Maria Press, 2009) pp 7-9 (italics and bold are my emphasis)

I will continue sharing my journey, tomorrow.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

When Your Monday Feels Like a Wednesday

It’s Monday, and it feels like a Wednesday.

It was a hard weekend. Tim was on a men’s “retreat,” so I was alone with the kids. And, I was grieving. So, though I woke up this morning feeling ready to go, I am now done.

Have you had those Mondays? When, though you get started with gusto, you peter out by mid-afternoon? Though you felt ready to face the week just a few short hours ago, you wonder how you’re going to make it until 5 or 6 or 10?

Maybe you’re having one of those today, too.

I used to beat myself up on these days. What’s wrong with you? Pull it together! I’d say. And I’d feel even worse.

But, I’m learning. Now, when I recognize I’m out of energy, out of cognitive ability, out of any sense of caring for others, I take a break. I stop what I’m doing. And I breath.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Repeat.

Did you know deep breathing heals? Deep breathing eases depression and anxiety as it produces the feel good hormones occitocin and prolactin while lowering stress hormones.

Maybe you, like me, need a moment or two – or three! – to breath.

I’m too tired to offer an insight from someone else. Too worn out to search for one of my many earmarks in my books and internet browser to find something to encourage you. I’m sorry. But I won’t beat myself up about it. Because maybe you, like me, needed to be reminded to breath.

So, go ahead. Take a breath. And heal.

be transformed by the renewing of your mind…

Romans 12:2

Picture source: Here.

A Bright Light in the Darkness

 

graduation photo

I wrote these words this past spring and they did not make it up on this blog then. I would like to share them with you now. 

For three and a half years, I slaved away at Denver Seminary working towards my Master of Divinity degree. The last nine moths of those years I was pregnant with Jack. During my pregnancy with him, I traveled to an Indian Reservation in South Dakota for a cross-cultural immersion course, I studied Hebrew, brief counseling, preaching and prayer, and I mentored a group of freshmen seminary students. While I thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy, my brain was completely focused on school. I did not nest. I had no time and no energy to do that. My nesting energy went completely towards finishing seminary well.

The day after I finished my final assignment we went in to the hospital for an external version to attempt to flip our breach baby boy. Hours later, we were told I needed to have an “emergency” c-section because my amniotic fluid was low. 45 minutes later, Jack was born.

To say I was in shock is an understatement. Sleep deprived, energy depleted, I was looking forward to at least 6 more days pf pregnancy. To be told the baby is coming now without going into labor, without a sign of a problem, without any normal notice threw me.

To go from an exciting world of academia to a crash course in motherhood was debilitating for me.

I believe I had post-partum depression from the moment Jack was born. It was not caught by a doctor or a nurse, my mother, or myself. My husband knew something was wrong, but did not know what to do. I felt like a different person. A stranger in my own life. For the next several months I struggled to get through each day. I doubted my ability to mother this baby who was in my care. I wept over the darkness I felt during those sleepless nights breastfeeding and the loneliness I experienced having left my seminary community. I physically and emotionally ached as I gave every drop of energy to my colicky, hungry child.

When I remember the hopeless thoughts I had at the time, I am heartbroken that I could not enjoy my son’s first year.

And then I stumbled upon the pictures you saw above.

Because I finished school in December, I did not walk until May when Jack was 5 months old. My parents flew out to be with us and my mom took care of Jack in the lobby during the ceremony. After the ceremony, Jack was the first person I saw and somehow, in the sea of caps and robes, he found me. His mommy! His face expressed such happiness, such joy that I was there – and such hilarity for the costume I was wearing! I felt that though I had just received honors for some of the hardest work of my life, that all slipped into the background and I was given the most joy that day from just being his mama.

I could not imagine graduating without him waiting for me on the other side of the stage. There was no greater gift that day than his love for me.

During a time of darkness, this was a moment of light. A time of hope and love. I cling to those moments. Because darkness cannot survive in light.

On Tuesday, my Jack graduated from preschool. The mini-ceremony was perfect. We grinned foolishly as he and his class sang the months of the year song. We cheered for him silently while he recited that “G is for Gorilla.” And we laughed joyfully while he danced his way down from the stage. I know he was proud of himself. I know it was one of his great life events. I’m grateful to be on the other side of the stage for him.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:5 NLT

Side Note: Tomorrow Jack starts kindergarten! I sort of can’t believe it. 🙂