By Contributing Writer, Kelly Crawford
Last summer, I found myself in a place no other human could touch. How can a place such as that be so painful and yet so glorious all at once? I was utterly depressed.
Not so much an overwhelming sadness, though sadness was involved, but more of a despondency, the complete lack of motivation to do the most basic of tasks, which for me, is a dreaded place. I’m usually full of ideas and inspiration and life–to a fault–but when I’m not, I’m really empty.
When we are there though, we are compelled to look up, to cry out to the only One who “can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”
Depression is one of those tricky topics among Christians, because we are tempted to believe it is solely a spiritual issue. And sometimes it is. But sometimes it’s not. I truly believe, having walked through it, that the brain, though more complicated than other body parts, is still capable of being “broken,” just like a kidney.
Sometimes inventory is required to figure that out. Is there unrepentant sin in my life? (Psalm 32:3,4) Am I abiding in Christ, letting His Word be to me a fountain of life? Once the spiritual causes are ruled out, we look to the physical.
And sometimes those physical causes can be easily treated. Are you getting enough exercise? Vitamin D? Serotonin?
Lessons, Regardless of Reasons
I learned some valuable spiritual lessons during my darkness. Though our humanness seeks to avoid suffering, God uses suffering–always has–to achieve His purposes. Maybe, we should do less avoiding and more resting in His providence.
For me, it was a time of being still and quiet. Of coming face to face with my utter frailty and recognizing that He is the joy of my salvation. We need to know our weaknesses, and for me, depression did the trick.
“I was brought low, and he helped me.” Psalm 116:6
Suffering from depression brought another unexpected blessing. As my husband tried so desperately to help me, he became more like Christ, more like the picture our marriages are supposed to be, and “in my weakness he was strong.” He prayed over me, with me, and for me; he encouraged me to lower my expectations, he helped me find refreshment, and most importantly, he waited patiently, and he did not trivialize my very real feelings.
If you suffer from depression, I would encourage you to soak yourself in the Word, even when you don’t feel like it. Wait for Him and trust Him to use your life, even in this moment, for His glory.
One last MONUMENTAL thing the Lord showed me was the desperate need for our transparency. Just a few days after I began to emerge from my despair, I was scheduled to speak at a Ladies’ Tea about our recent loss in the 2011 storms that swept across the Southeast. As I prepared (difficult to do during depression) the Lord kept weaving bits of my other “storm” inside the testimony. Afterwards, I received showers of thanks for my “transparency” about depression. Women who were struggling but afraid to verbalize it.
The Lord had used my suffering to minister to these ladies. “Pain is never wasted,” I said in my talk. And I believe that is true for all of us if we fall back into His arms and trust Him to use us in all things.
As I wrap this up, I’m reminded that He also used this time in my life to compile the book, When Motherhood Feels Too Hard. As I’ve received so many emails from women grateful for the book, the Lord washes my soul afresh with His goodness and reminds me, “See, I know what I’m doing.”