Three wonderful women. Three women struggling to hold on. Three women who have been through the wringer of life. Three women—all my friends. And I sat with all three in one day, separately.
One woman’s loss is enormous. An adult daughter lost to cancer last September after watching her wither away, bit-by-bit for two years. This same daughter, raped at knife-point as a young girl by a home intruder as my friend and her husband slept upstairs thinking their little ones were tucked in safe for the night. Years later, she got tossed about on the stormy sea of addiction when this same daughter attempted to blot out past horror with drugs, creating stupors of distraction from inner demons drooling for her soul. And then there was the accident—a debilitating fall in the wilderness crushing my friend’s delicate face and damaging her brilliant brain. And there’s even more trauma—just too much. How much can a bruised reed take without breaking?
One woman has flashbacks of sexual abuse by a brother. Try as she does, memories intrude and haunt and taunt. Disgusting! Vile! Crazy! Inner chatter picks and tears and distorts beauty into unreal ugly to the point where it’s hard to get up and go on most days.
One woman is losing her home while she thinks she’s losing her mind. A bunch of kids and a husband and all—these—years—of—trying—to keep it all together—falling apart.
These women? They are all dear to me. They are all part of my fabric because I know their inner demons. I know the claws and the insatiable appetite for human hearts—how they howl hot as they anticipate a bite here, a stab there. Tormenting and rendering the saved paralyzed is their goal.
How much can a heart and soul take? How much suffering and loss? And when we’re so far down? When we’re so depleted depressed?
Some pointers for those who have not walked depression’s path . . . .
Please don’t serve us spiritual platitudes. Please don’t ignore us and pretend we’ll just get better by memorizing a few more Scripture verses or giving a bit more thanks. Please don’t tell us to keep our chin up and remember that others in the world are so much worse off.
We just need to be seen and heard and held. The depressed need love and intensive care for a time. And sometimes, the depressed need medication. Sometimes God works His miracles through the seemingly secular. Actually, He often uses the secular to heal and bless. He’s sovereign. Please recognize this grace and offer it to the hurting with depression, just as we would offer chemo to the cancer-invaded. Because, untreated, depression kills more often than cancer.
And let’s crush stigma, once and for all. Pejorative labels we don’t need. Being treated as less than—more broken than—less Christian than any other broken body or soul—we don’t need. We’re not crazy. We’re broken. Just like the beat up Samaritan lying on the road wishing just one kind soul would stop and offer aid—this is who we are—for a time.
Never did I think, even one year ago, I would praise God for allowing me to suffer with depression. Never did I think God would provide so completely and tenderly through loving friends and husband, leading me to a peaceful place where I can offer soothing words and powerful prayers and doctor referrals for those still in depression’s crushing grip.
But I am here—standing strong. And I will love these dear women, God help me! I will walk with them and pray with them and hear them and hold them and give to them what my husband and friends gave to me—all by God’s grace. And I will hold the beacon of hope for each, sounding God’s call of love, until they are all back to shore, resting once again in calm harbor waters.
Take heart, dear friends!
And when you can’t see His smile through the fog, see mine. And when you can’t feel His embrace through the winds, feel mine. And when you don’t think He’s hearing your distress calls, hear my horn calling you back, leading you to shore.
God’s voice sounds through my praises of His grace. And His light shines through all the many parts of me, broken and cracked. Broken—for you—like Jesus. I am but a beautifully broken vessel led by His light and love back to safe harbor—for you. And I will not let go because Jesus will never let go. Ever.
You are tethered to Love.
And you are loveable—especially in your brokenness—because God shines brightest through cracked and broken vessels.
Hold on. Stay in the boat. I’ll hold your hope—for God’s sake—till you can hold it yourself.
God and I and all others who love you . . .
We’ll never label you lost at sea.
We’ll help bring you home.