I remember on one of my darkest days asking God to swaddle me. I had swaddled the babies so many times by then. It was, at the time, my greatest need. I could feel the need physically to be held so tightly by someone greater and stronger than me. This was the only time during that year that I felt the presence of God come down and warm me while I lay there, knees to my chest in the corner of my bed.
I had never really known depression before.
One day I went out for lunch with my husband. I told him I was just surviving. I can remember how heavy my chest felt as I said that. I thought I might drown. My whole body felt as though it might literally give out.
They say what is deepest will rise to the surface on your harder days. I found anger most of all, and lack of fruit. The verses about branches and vines and being thrown in the fire caused me to truly question if I could call myself a Christian. But the hardest part for me was the loss of prayer and intimacy with the loving Father I’d always known. I doubted His goodness, and it was my greatest disappointment – in myself.
I picked up an old copy of Prayer, by Richard Foster. I didn’t even believe the words anymore. But I kept reading, and picking it up again. Something in me could not settle for the doubt that was covering me.
This is a sign of prevenient grace: when sinful souls hunger for God.
What finally, truly freed me was this: I gave myself permission to live out the season.
To let the questions have their full effect in me. To speak them out into the thick air and let them hang there. Though I wanted so deeply to be fixed and go back to what I felt before, I could not. I didn’t pretend. I didn’t hide. I had the church remove me from the list of corporate prayer leaders.
What do you do as a minister when people look to you for faith, and you have none at all? When they still call to talk about fasting and you don’t remember the last time you prayed?
I was honest. I let them walk with me, into my unsteadiness.
I needed to begin again.
We need to give people room to stretch into a new place with God. Room to struggle and ask the hard questions, without rushing to answer them ourselves. Because it was here, in this new and unknown place of doubt that God deconstructed and rebuilt a heart for Him. I thought I was waiting for Him…but He graciously waited for me.
The idol of knowledge needed to die. So many idols did. I finally offered my need to have all the answers down at the cross. What came forth from my dark night of the soul was a whole new place of faith.
Maybe the darkness of doubt is the primer….for a faith that sticks.
The life that Jesus offers is found in the most unexpected places. In ordinary tangibles like bread and wine. In the heart of the prodigal, hurting from sin, but willing to look up and see the Father, waiting.
And even in death. For the seed that dies will sprout new life. The soul who dies in Christ will live.
“Today is the perfect day to believe and begin again.” – Ann Voskamp
I’m linking up with the High Calling today. This is part of a series on prayer. You may begin here. Segments of this post were taken from previous posts I’ve written on my experience with depression. May you find the light of His truth and know you are loved today.