Linking up with Lisa Jo today. Five minutes of writing. Prompt word: VISIT.
I sat in tears in the floor of my virtually empty house, contemplating my final end. Deep despair had become my constant companion. Today was the day. The plan had been set. With journal in my lap and pen in my hand, I began to write a letter trying to explain, trying to tell my children not to give up even though I had. To tell them to hold on to hope even when I couldn't. My letter became a prayer. Desperate to feel His presence one more time, my Bible lay beside me. Still He hadn't come and I gave up waiting. It was time. I bent low, wracked in sobs.
The air was still and hot but the smallest breeze swept through picking up the pages of the bible beside me. I don't know why but I looked where they landed:
"Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. (1 Kings 19:11-13)
A gentle whisper... A breeze... He was here. I couldn't deny His arrival. He heard me--He WANTED me. Finally, HOPE had come to visit.
To them God has chosen to make known...the glorious riches of this mystery, which is CHRIST IN YOU, the HOPE of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
STOP. FIVE MINUTES UP.
Depression is real. And ANY person can suffer from it. Even good Christians. Whether situational, hormonal, a chemical imbalance, or whatever causes it, depression can invade a life so completely that hope can't co-exist with it. And we can't just pray it away as some might advise. Overcoming it takes prayer, but also work, counseling, trust, and a willingness to look at our lives through a different lens.
This incident was real. It was a Sunday morning just over ten years ago. and though my five minute for the prompt are over, I still feel I should tell you the rest of the story. I had a specific plan, a specific place where no one would find me for awhile, the right tools to carry it out, and a goodbye letter written. My marriage was over, my family was gone (I thought), and all I seemed to do was make everything worse for everybody. I was ready. Even now, I still struggle to say the word out loud or to type it in reference to myself, but I was certain suicide was the answer.
But then He showed up in a breeze--a small whisper. He pointed me directly to the story of Elijah in the midst of his own despair. I couldn't deny God's presence in that moment though I was still confused and broken. I didn't know what else to do with myself after I read the scripture so I decided to walk to church a few blocks away. I arrived just as the pastor stood up to preach. Strangely, he said tha he really fel God leading him to take a step back, to just be quiet. Instead, he asked the band to continue to play and sing while God spoke to the hearts of the people there. Neither he nor the band had any idea what I'd been thinking or planning. Yet the band sang a song written by one of their members about the love of a Shepherd in search of His lost sheep. Tears rolled down my cheeks, as I realized He was STILL whispering, STILL searching for me--His lost sheep. Someone tried to speak to me--to pray for me but I ran away. It was more than I could handle. But the Shepherd's tender whisper remained with me. Though I still had a long journey full of twists and turns to get to the point of healing, that moment in the floor of my empty house was the dawn of HOPE--Christ IN me.
A moment experienced over ten years ago, and I still remember it so very clearly. It was a beginning. Today, I can say with assurance that I'm daring to live again--to enjoy life and REALLY live. Oh, I still have my dark days. I still get overwhelmed but those dark moments are fewer and less oppressive. I have to work at it. I live with major depressive disorder, BUT God still whispers and I hold on to hope.
If you struggle with depression or if thoughts of suicide enter your mind, please get help. Suicide is NOT the answer. Talk to a friend--even one friend. Or maybe even a stranger. Call a suicide hotline. Seek out a Christian counselor--and don't give up if the first one you see isn't the right one for you. Go to a mental health specialist or your own physician and get medication if you need it. Do SOME thing to help yourself. And don't deny your feelings just to make everyone else more comfortable--that only makes your despair deeper. And most of all, I pray that you seek the Shepherd. He's seeking you too. WAIT for Him. He will whisper to your heart too. Hope WILL come.