My relationship with Christ is the glue that holds my crazy mess of a self together. He is Stability when I have none. Reality when I can’t see it. Truth when all I hear is lies. He is what I cling to in my darkest moments; that still small voice that tells me to “hold on just a bit longer. I have a purpose for you in this. It will get better.” When my mind tells me I’m worthless, he calls me “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139: 13).
(side note: fearfully here is from the Hebrew “yare” which can be translated as “stupendous, admirable…wonderful of illustrious deeds”. Practical translation: I am made by the Creator of all things, and He made me wonderful and admirable!)
He sees me in my darkest place when I’m too ashamed of how I feel to let anyone else in, and He loves me still. He fights for me when all my fight is gone.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
This may be one of my favorite verses. It comes just as the Israelites are fleeing Egypt with the Egyptians hot on their heals. Man, do I know that feeling. Running as fast as I can, trying so hard just to pull myself together. I quickly become just like the Israelites complaining again, “Lord you’re not doing this the way I want; this should be easier. This is so unfair!” At times the weight of depression can be so overwhelming, a bit like an enemy army charging straight for you.
For those unfamiliar, bipolar has two “poles”: mania and depression. Mania is typically very high highs, feelings of euphoria like you can conquer the world, while depression is quite the opposite. I’ve had to explain this a few times to my wonderfully stable husband that me being depressed doesn’t mean I feel sad. Everyone experiences different symptoms but mine vary in the following: numbness/no feelings at all, zombie-like state (I have a really hard time thinking or talking. I can hear others talking around me but I’m so checked out it doesn’t really occur to me I should respond to them. And if I do respond it often doesn’t make a lot of sense.), intense fatigue, no motivation, irrational and dark thoughts, overly tearful, lack of appetite, hard time sleeping, and feeling weighed down (It feels like you’re trying to function in a swamp, every thought and movement is made with great effort.) It’s estimated almost 10% of American adults experience this, though my guess is its actually much higher.
I don’t tell you this to shock you or make you feel sorry for me; I really don’t want your pity. But I do want you to understand what its like. If you’re experiencing this I get it; I love you and want to point you to Hope and a Light in your darkness. If you know someone going through this love them, don’t judge them, don’t try to fix them. Be their prayer warrior. Walk next to them so they know they are not alone, even though that’s how they feel.
It’s an unspeakable comfort to know I don’t need to just try harder; I’m only asked to be still in the presence of my God. The theme of “stillness” is woven throughout the bible, and as any good literary teacher will tell you repetition means its IMPORTANT. But I think there’s an important distinction to be made here. There is a huge difference between being passively still and being actively still. Yes, I realize the phrase “actively still” does sound like an oxymoron. Let me explain. J Actively still means you actively let go of yourself, of your plans and expectations, and actively seek God. Immerse yourself in His word and allow it transform you and you mind. Let go of who the world says you are and even of who you say you are; seek who your Creator says you are. He knows you inside and out. Let Him define you. His word calls us beautiful, wonderful, loved. He gives us unspeakable worth. Worth that is not contingent upon what we do or don’t do, but upon the price His son paid by dying on the cross for us in our ever broken state. Oh, how He loves you.
I realize I start to sound kind of preachy toward the end. But because my illness makes me that much more aware of my shortcomings, I am so much more grateful for my relationship with my Father. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)