13 March, 2011

חופש | Made It Through

So this has been a long time coming, and really only scratches the surface...
I want to share an incredible story of God's goodness in my life.

After the church of my childhood turned out to be, effectively, a cult and a 'den of thieves', my family and all I had ever known fell to pieces. For almost all of my teenage years I suffered with undiagnosed and untreated depression, fear, and anxiety, not to mention the slew of trust and intimacy issues that came with finding out your world had been a lie.

For anyone who has, or is suffering the same, I trust you know the darkness and hopelessness that is depression. Being under that cloud for so many years nearly killed me on a number of occasions.
And I say 'nearly killed me' as if I had no control over it, because I didn't. Yes, there are often times during depressive states when you can try and change your mindset or mood, but as a whole, depression for me was not a choice, and not something I had control over. I experienced moments of real fear with the thought that, through suicide, depression might actually kill me. I didn't want to die, I never had the intention to kill myself. But living had become so unbearable, that unless something changed, and soon, death would have seemed like my only option.

I knew Jesus throughout all of this. I grew up in church, I've been in relationship with Jesus for as long as I can remember. The hope of Christ is probably the only thing that pulled me through some of the darkest moments.

Nevertheless, my faith and salvation didn't cure my mental illness. In many ways it made it harder; to accept Jesus' love and mercy, and yet be so influenced and controlled by something not of Heaven was impossible to reconcile.

Last year a bunch of the other youth leaders started up a prayer group on Sunday mornings for the weeks leading up to our mid year youth camp, to seek God, seek His heart, and intercede for our youth.
We have continued these prayer meetings since, and one particular morning, I remember walking to church, struggling with depressive thoughts and absolute apathy; everyone else seemed to have this focus on and connection with God that I just couldn't grasp, everyone had a passion that I didn't. Indeed I hadn't felt truly passionate about anything for years.

That morning, I decided that I'd had enough. I cried out to God,
"God, I want you, I need you. I want you more than this depression wants me, I want you more than the devil wants me to fail, I want you, Lord."
I also decided that despite my lack of passion and positive emotion, God was more important. Whether or not I could 'feel' him, I was going to follow him, and serve him, wholeheartedly. Perhaps I couldn't choose whether or not to be depressed, but I could still choose to follow God.

That morning at prayer group, I shared my cry to God with the other youth leaders gathered, and made my declaration to God in front of them, and a vow of sorts, that even though I often feel held back, and don't always feel God as others do, I will still seek him, I will still praise him, for he is greater than any Earthly mindset or affliction.

There is something powerful about prayer, and especially powerful about praying together, and declaring things of Heaven that aren't as though they are.

Since that morning, I have been on a journey, and I'm now at a place where I can declare that I am healed, I am free.

I no longer have depression, I'm no longer held captive of the devil or of my mind, but I am set free in Christ. I am no longer dying in the darkness, but living in the glorious light of Jesus. Life is wonderful. I know real joy. And even when life doesn't work the way I want it to, as Paul says in Philippians 4:11 'I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.'
Praise God.

At C3W I've found a place of true love and friendships, and a place I can call home in Jesus. Thank you, for being a church that pursues Jesus' freedom, and for being a safe haven during my convalescence.

To others suffering depression, I say this:
Hold on. Hold on to God, hold on to hope. There is healing in the name and power of Jesus. Do not be discouraged. I am testament to the fact that, it may take years, but healing comes, and it is so worth holding on to life. There is joy on the other side of that mountain. Real, pure joy.
God is still there, God is still good. It may be difficult, but trust him, lean into him, and he will help you through. Depression leads you down dark roads, but at every fork we come to there is a choice: life or death. God always provides life. He sets before us life and death, choose life. Choose Jesus, choose hope, and always, always choose life.
I pray that your journey will take the road to joy much sooner than mine did.

10 March, 2011

I'm done with you,

black dog.

Good riddance. I'm loving this freedom.

And no, I won't keep my mouth shut.

07 March, 2011

Whirlwind text message romance.

Just reminiscin' and missin' the days. When.