Recently depression washed over me like a tidal wave.
What contributed to my being thrown down by this wave of sadness was receiving bad news from several sources: a friend’s daughter had suddenly become ill and was going to die, a cousin’s daughter’s boyfriend was killed in a car accident, someone had come to the home of a loved one and threatened him with a gun.
Then there were disturbing news stories–five bicyclists were killed by a hit and run driver in Michigan, a mother of four died while on the beach after an umbrella came out of the sand and was hurled through the air by the wind striking her in the chest triggering a heart attack and then death. Another disturbing news story was that of the Stanford Olympic-hopeful swimmer/rapist who, encouraged by his father, refused to take responsibility for his crime and seemed to view himself as a victim and showed no remorse. Then to add insult to her injury the judge gave him a light sentence.
My heart went out to the true victim who courageously confronted her rapist in the courtroom. This story brought back memories of my lack of courage when I was raped in my college years being given a date rape drug by someone I saw as a friend. I did not go to the police but instead blamed myself for being stupid and hanging out with someone I knew took drugs.
Also on this day of depression several people had rejected me in various ways. Add to that not sleeping very well in recent days.
Here I was on a staycation on Clearwater Beach getting “away” to complete some writing projects with my daughter (she’s a writer too), and instead of enjoying being in one of my favorite places on earth—near the beach—I began to wallow in self-pity.
My daughter was staying overnight at her house on this particular day, so being alone and feeling lonely added to the problem.
The bottom line is that I was focusing on negatives. I hadn’t prayed yet that day as thoughts of Why should I pray? My life is filled with unanswered prayers went through my mind. My Bible lay on the coffee table unopened when I usually read the Word every morning. Instead I had turned to the world’s food instead of the food of the Word to deal with my emotions, which caused me to sink deeper.
Working on my writing seemed impossible, and the passion I felt for my projects the day before dissolved into dust, and I even wondered if I was deluding myself as I wrote.
I should have known that the enemy was involved in this attack of depression. It seems that any time I sit down to write God’s truth, the enemy can be right there trying to fill my mind with lies. On this day, I let down my guard and listened.
Finally, I called out to God for help. On my computer, I typed out all the things that were bothering me and gave the list to the Lord. Blessings came to mind, and I rejoiced over how good God had been to me over the years. Instead of focusing on bad news, God turned my mind to the Good News of the Gospel and how it and He had transformed my life. Here is part of the prayer I wrote:
Lord, I give all of these issues to You. Please help me not to focus on the negative. Let me keep my focus on You rather than on my problems, the problems of people I love, and the problems of the church and of this world.
I recalled how earlier that week a reader of my blog had written telling me how deeply depressed she was. I confessed that before sending her words of encouragement, pride had entered in as I thought then how I could never sink that low again. Perhaps God had allowed this battle with depression to show me how easily I could succumb if I didn’t stay on guard and to give me compassion for those who battled ongoing severe depression.
It was already evening when I turned to the Lord, and I forced myself to go down to the pier/beach. I brought my guitar and played and sang God songs for the people walking by. I felt I was partly singing to myself the words I needed to hear: “What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer…”
Good things happened: there was a beautiful sunset. There was a rainbow. The ocean breezes encouraged me like the embrace of a close friend. I saw two street performer acts, which were good, and I laughed at the humor of these young men. A lady said she liked the “Jesus Is The Anchor of My Soul” shirt I was wearing.
The next morning after a time of reading the Word and prayer, I wrote, “Lord, I’m listening” and then the following came to my mind:
ELAINE, DO NOT FRET OR WORRY. I AM STILL IN CONTROL. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF THE ENEMY WHO DESIRES TO DISCOURAGE YOU, SO YOU WILL NOT DO MY WILL, AND SO YOU WILL STOP BELIEVING THAT I LOVE YOU, THAT I HAVE AN EXCELLENT PLAN FOR YOUR FUTURE, AND THAT THE BEST IS YET TO COME. DO NOT BELIEVE HIS LIES. BELIEVE WHAT I SPEAK TO YOU. LISTEN DAILY FOR MY VOICE. DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO SINK INTO DEPRESSION. LEARN TO SING “TRUST IN YOU” BY LAUREN DAIGLE. REMEMBER THAT I AM FOR YOU AND NOT AGAINST YOU. I AM NOT BLAMING YOU OR SHAMING YOU. THAT IS COMING FROM THE ENEMY. REST IN PEACE.
Once again I couldn’t help but think of the verse that often has come to mind on the other side of a bout with depression, which David wrote on the other side of his (See verses 1-4):
I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:6
“Blessed” by Martina McBride