October 29, 2017

The lion that roars

I recognize the fact that I only write blog entries a few choice times each year, and I tell myself I will make it a more interesting online destination one day when the kids are older. Who actually knows? But once or twice a year, though my naptime respite from the minions is short and altogether precious, I decide I need to use it to write. And so here we are again.

Depression, y'all. It is a prowling lion, tail wriggling in anticipation, ready to pounce at any moment. If you read my last entry, entitled My Scar, you know that last January I tied a nice little bow on the end of my Post Partum Depression and thought I was mostly in the clear. I could not have been more wrong. And although I could try to think of something more clever, more exciting or funnier to write about, this is what is in my face and on my heart daily right now. This roaring lion that just doesn't want to shut its mouth.

About a month after I penned my last post my depression kicked up in a major way. In the nine months that followed until today I have struggled to find a good combination of medication and dosages so that I can feel like myself again. So that I can muster up some amount of motivation to do more than the bare minimum to get through each day. So that I am not frequently overwhelmed or sad or despairing.

Don't get me wrong. This is NOT a "woe is me" post. I have it GOOD and I know it! I grew up in a loving home with parents who sometimes still make me a little uncomfortable with their public displays of affection. I married a man who loves Jesus first, me second and our children third - and all with ferocious devotion. He is gracious and kind and patient when I am selfish and irritable and complaining. I have three beautiful children who, for the most part, are healthy and happy, funny and smart. So what is my problem, right? I say this to highlight the fact that depression is not rational. Nor is it always circumstantial.

I will concede that keeping three human beings under the age of three years old is not easy breezy lemon squeezy. People comment regularly to me how they and their other friend so and so don't know how I do it. Guess what. I don't know either! But honestly, I have so much support from family (hi, Mom) and friends. I am aware and remind myself nearly daily that this is a difficult season but it will pass as my babies grow. In other words, I don't believe I am in a situation that one might think warrants a depressed state.

So my depression isn't rational and usually isn't circumstantial. Another myth I'll derail is that depression is a spiritual deficiency. Mine sure isn't! I love Jesus and often experience the joy, love and victory that being in relationship with Him brings. Drawing close to Him can temporarily relieve my symptoms, but no amount of prayer or "right living" has muzzled my lion. I believe that God purposefully allows me to deal with Leo.

What should I do with all of this? It's pretty frustrating stuff. I can't fix myself with rational thinking, circumstantial change or even prayer. But I know why. I'm not meant to fix myself. Though I can pray for the renewing of my mind and know that God will be faithful to answer that prayer, I still live in a broken world and a fleshly body that will war against Him until He returns victorious over everything.

After 14 years of dealing with depression and anxiety, I am beginning to realize that it is extremely possible my lion will never fully leave me. The apostle Paul called his "a thorn in the flesh." It was an unnamed malady God allowed Paul to wrestle continually and without permanent victory. This ailment forced him to choose whether he would rely on Christ's strength or manage on his own. In regularly choosing to lean on Jesus, Paul discovered that God's "power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is when I acknowledge my inabilities that God can reveal His glory by giving me love, acceptance and power to overcome moment by moment.

Depression is real and hard and seemingly never completely gone. You can address it rationally (medication, professional counseling, etc), circumstantially (focus on the good in your life or remove yourself from negativity), and spiritually (pray, try to be a "good" person) and still not yank that lion by his tail and drag him away. But it's okay. There is still good news! Jesus is near to the broken-hearted. He delights in showing off His power and generosity in people's lives when we acknowledge our need for Him. I am learning this daily and want to share my heart with you. Whether you experience depression or know someone who does, look to Jesus. Try Him. Your lion's only a housecat to the King.