I’m linking up with the amazing Addie Zierman’s synchroblog on the dark places in life for this post. SHE JUST RELEASED HER SECOND BOOK!! This week!! Buy it now: Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark.
The changeling beast of depression has always been a part of my life. It has reared its ugly head in a myriad of ways – as searing anger, endless tears, chilled-to-the-bone numbness. As anorexia and suicidal thoughts. As cutting and burning and borderline alcoholism. I am all of these things.
But I am also a mom and a wife. A Christian. A musician, a writer, an arts administrator, a runner, an INFJ. I love the ocean and the sky, beautiful words and images, the way a Hopper painting is so lonely and so familiar, the way Bach makes me believe in God. I am all these things.
I am also a fighter. I fight the demons, the darkness, the negativity. Some days I win. Some days, I lose. One Thursday I was losing.
That Thursday, my 16-month-old son was screaming in his crib. I was huddled in bed, crying, head buried beneath the blankets. I felt terrible, and too much, and empty.
I was angry and bitter, resenting how having a child had changed my life. I was overwhelmed with guilt for not delighting in my son, not being the stable and happy mom that I wanted for him. I was unspeakably sad and deeply despairing. The depth of what I felt was almost too much for me.
An accusing voice in my head told me that the darkness and overwhelming emotions that had haunted me my entire life — often popping up unrelated to any big tragedy, which would “warrant” the depression — were because I wasn’t “Christian enough.” God doesn’t care about you, I heard. God certainly seemed a long ways away. I felt alone, and longed for someone to take the pieces of my life and fit them together in some way that made sense.
I knew I had to get up, but I felt immobilized. I wanted desperately to hurt myself and used every ounce of willpower and every truth I knew to fight: it’s an escape; you’ll regret it; you promised not to. You don’t want to start living a lie again. I tried to pray, but the only thing that I could muster was deep calls to deep.
Deep calls to deep. God, hear my prayer. Deep calls to deep. God, hear my prayer.
Eventually, I got up and brought my son to my bed. I looked at him and was hit with a fresh wave of tears. In his precious face, I saw a reminder of everything I resented: my life as a mother, my lack-of-career, the selfish desires I could no longer gratify (long runs, pedicures, uninterrupted lunches, European travel). The enormous chasm that had formed in my marriage between my husband and me.
I also saw myself.
His eyes welling over with tears reflected the blue pools of my own. I saw his fear, his frustration, his anger. I saw that he felt overwhelmed – as I did. He didn’t understand what was going on – as I didn’t. He couldn’t control his many emotions – as I couldn’t.
I cried out of desperation and anger and sadness; he cried out of frustration and fear and need. I clung to him; he clung to me. I saw how he needed me – imperfect mom that I was.
I also needed something — someone — to cling to.
God does not promise a life without suffering. He only promises that He will be with me in the suffering. That when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be there. That when I call to Him, He will hear me. The world was once perfect — without sin, without suffering. Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and the perfect world was broken.
The brokenness is evident in so many ways. Bodies break down, kidneys fail, cancer cells reproduce, brain chemistry is a bit off. Hate confuses relationships and our sin blinds us to beauty. There is injustice and oppression; cheating, murder, and lies. There is much, much suffering.
Jesus suffered – suffered terribly. He bore the ultimate burden. He suffered so that we can have hope.
It’s hard to have hope in suffering. Really hard.
A few days after That Thursday, I looked up the phrase that had been stuck in my head. Deep calls to deep. The depth of my soul had called out, longing for the depth of God.
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42: 3, 5, 7-8, 11
It took a long time to emerge from that hole. I moved slowly, feeling fragile and weak. God gave me other people, to lift me up, to pray for me and to carry me when I couldn’t do those things for myself.
They reminded me of David’s story – David who penned that psalm. David, who poured out his soul to God through salty tears, desperately hoping for the faith he had once known. Did God not rescue him from the depths? How about the Israelites? How about Moses, Daniel, Jonah? Jesus? Had God not been faithful to them all?
Had God not been faithful to me? Rescued me from past dark places?
My darkness lifted, bit by bit. It was hard work. It took all the tools I had.
I know the darkness, the fight, the fear, the despair. I know the brokenness of the world. And I cling to God. To whom else would I turn?
God doesn’t promise a life without brokenness or suffering – in my case, without depression. But He does promise to be there for it.
6 responses to “deep calls to deep”
What a blessing and a gift you are, beautiful sister
Thank you for the encouragement, sister! It takes a strong community of friends and believers to get through this life! Sometimes, all the time.
Thanks so much for sharing about your Depression. I SO get it. Love the truths you are able to hold onto here. Thanks so much for linking up!
I really related to this Leah! Also an INFJ here… and yours was the first post I read after posting mine, just a little bit blown away by the similarities — I felt your tears, and everything else. Thank you for sharing your truth. xx
I am with you about the similarities! I also felt that way reading your “Bree” page… 🙂 But I am constantly amazed at how many women struggle with some form of PND (or PPD, as we often call it in the US), and are equally hesitant to call it what it is and to share with or reach out to others. We are not alone, and yet it’s so easy to feel so isolated.
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