Recently I saw a Dr. about how I’ve been feeling and she informed me that I met all the criteria for a person who was clinically depressed and prescribed an anti-depressant. I was confused. I didn’t feel depressed, did I? I was just overwhelmed, wasn’t I? But since I was desperate for a fix to my emotional state, I decided to pick up the medicine…and took one.
As soon as I did, I regretted it. Not because I think it’s wrong - I’ve been on them before and they saved me from myself during a very difficult and dark time many years ago, but, I realized I didn’t pray and ask God what He thought about what the Dr. said - and I didn’t wait to see if there might be another option. I just wanted the quick fix. Once I got out of the parking lot, I immediately started praying and asked God to show me what was really going on - so I would know if I should take the medicine or not.
About an hour later I had a meeting with an old friend who is now trained as a biblical counselor. When I shared with her the same things I shared with this Dr., she said, “Marilyn, you are not depressed, you’re grieving! You lost your church and community; you are without a home and in the middle of trying to build a new life – that’s a lot for any person”.
It was one of those times where words directly hit a spot in the heart that needed to be pierced. I needed that spot to be pointed at to show me what I was pushing down and ignoring. I went through closing our church, loosing that community and selling our home with much reliance on God, but also a determination to push through and fight on my knees for whatever God wanted in my life. I didn’t have the energy, or the mental or emotional strength to give to anything else. I now realize that also meant having to push emotions down in order to show support to my husband and help us get through it all. I guess some would call it survival mode, but now it’s time to process what I stuffed down to survive and thrive during those times.
So here I am being told I’m either depressed or grieving. If I had to pick one, I would say I’m grieving. I’m not entirely sure how to process what is going on inside of me right now, but I can tell you the steps that I’m choosing. I’m choosing counseling to deal with anything I may have buried to survive and remain strong during hard times, and I’m choosing joy.
I’m focusing on joy because I realized I was tired of feeling sad and overwhelmed and I knew God didn’t want that for me either. I want to choose joy, to feel joy, and to give joy to those around me. I can still have a lot of unanswered question, little money, constant hip pain, and temporary housing, but I am not going to let Satan speak death into my heart or head anymore. When negative thoughts come due to pain or circumstances, I combat them with prayer, scripture, thankfulness and joy. I cry too. I’m giving myself permission to cry when things come to the surface instead of pushing those feelings down. Crying brings more joy because I’m letting go of expectations on myself to remain strong or the need to hold myself and my family together. It also releases what has needed to get out for way too long.
If you want joy in your life, I challenge you to fight for it. Memorize scripture that speaks of the joy of the Lord, read the Psalms that give praise to God (Psalms 145 is my favorite), have praise and worship music on at all times and sing along when you can. And of course, read your bible and pray every day (and cry when needed). I have found this to be what helps me and I hope you can find hope and encouragement through my journey.
Psalm 31:24 “Be Strong and Courageous all you who put your Hope in the Lord!”