By Mary Southerland─
I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand (Psalm 40:1-2, NIV).
Friend to Friend
I hate depression. It is an all-too-familiar foe in my life. I know. I am a grounded Christian and have walked with God for many years. I am a pastor’s wife … a Christian author and speaker. According to many people, I shouldn’t struggle with depression, but I do. It keeps me on my face before God. It keeps me broken and desperate for Him.
Thousands – seriously – thousands of people have prayed for me to be delivered and set free from this battle.
I continually search my heart, mind, and soul for some un-confessed sin.
I have sifted through my past and dealt with every painful memory God has brought to mind.
I have tried dozens of nutritional cures and am on the healthiest eating plan of my life.
Exercise? Do it. It helps … but the darkness never quite goes away.
I have had two sleep studies, been given a light box, taken I don’t know how many different anti-depressants, and seen countless psychiatrists and counselors, searching for an answer. They don’t seem to have one that I like – you know, the one that takes away the darkness altogether.
I have come to the conclusion that my real name is Pauline.
No, I am nowhere close to the faith level of the apostle Paul, but we do have one thing in common. A pit. I’m not sure what Paul’s personal pit was. It doesn’t matter. When Paul begged God to take away his pain, the answer was a resounding “no.” God then proceeded to use Paul in amazing ways –because of and through the broken places in Paul’s life.
I want to be like Paul. I want to be okay with just being okay some days. It’s funny. On those days when I want to give up … I invariably receive an email, a phone call, a Facebook message, or a text telling me how God has used something I wrote or taught to change a life. I am just flat out amazed to think God can use me in such a way! That’s when I truly thank Him for the pit, knowing that He is working through my brokenness to encourage other broken people.
We are all broken in some way. We all have pits.
A pit is slimy. It is impossible to get a grip on anything because of the slimy walls. You can’t climb out. I tried. But I kept sliding back down to the bottom. Evidently, God thought I needed to learn how to sit, be still, and know that He really is God.
And the bottom of my pit was just lovely – covered in mud. As I dredged through that mud, I came to a startling realization. I was a pig. I evidently loved wallowing in the mud of my messy past. I discovered that I had spent a lot of years burying a lot of junk in that mud.
Emotional junk that was just too painful to face.
Physical junk that I simply didn’t have the strength to master.
Mental junk that forged faulty thought patterns and nasty habits in my life.
Spiritual junk I desperately tried to hide as I attempted to find my worth in performance, human approval and effort.
I wish I had known then what I know now – that God loves me simply because He is love and He just can’t help Himself. I wish I had known that nothing I do or don’t do will ever change His love for me, and that no one – absolutely no one can take my place in His heart.
But it took the pit of clinical depression for me to learn those truths.
So today, I embrace the pain. I celebrate the fact that even in the darkness, I know He is there. God is with me. He is faithful. Jesus loves me, and He is for me.
Yes, the pit of depression is never far away and that is a good thing.
Anything or anyone that makes me desperate for God can be counted as a blessing. Honestly, I hate that truth – but I also love it. God has used it to make my life a living illustration of the wonderful horrible certainty that His power shines best through the broken places. He is drawn to broken people. Broken people are why He came.
Did you know that my given name, Mary, literally means: “bitter, but when broken, sweet?” I guess I will keep it. After all, it is the perfect picture of who I really am.
Father, Thank You that You are my strength and my joy. I turn to You in faith and seek Your forgiveness for the pride that blinds me to the hope I find in You. Please help me see Your hand at work in my life, and even when I can’t, give me the power to walk by faith and not by sight. Right now, I lay the broken pieces of my life at Your feet and am counting on You to come through for me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read and memorize Psalm 40:1-3.
Record these verses in your journal.
When the darkness comes, remember each promise and count on God’s grace.
More from the Girlfriends
Mary’s book, Hope in the Midst of Depression, is her story of desperation, brokenness and restoration. It will help you discover the steps that will lead you to the light.