How to Have Hope Through a Season of Depression

The first bending of my soul from depression was over the summer season, a rather unlikely time to be sad, however, depression doesn’t play by the rules.

So now, when this season of early sunrises and waning light arrives, it brings with it a bittersweet reminder of the time I waited in the middle.

The middle of depression…


How to have hope while waiting through a season of depression.

The summer held two more months of stifling heat but in the gentle breeze I hear the soft sigh of trees, “I grow tired of sprouting leaves and long for autumn’s rest.”

I feel a leaning inward when August tumbles precipitously into September. This time period prompted me, like the trees, to await the relief of another season. Nestled within their shadow’s stretch, the whispers of fall beckon as I longed for the weather to match my soul’s condition.

Depression caused a tenderness in my spirit like a broken arm before a splint. It brought with it an uncomfortable waiting…

For sanity.

Reprieve.

For hope.


Hope in the middle

My mind drifts from the trees to my boy with the chestnut hair and dark eyes as he strolls over. He plops down next to me and lays his head on my shoulder, looking up with lashes a mile long.

“I hate being in the middle.” He exhales as his plump lips tighten into a thin line.

“What do you mean?” I ask gently, feeling his tender heart at that moment.

“I’m stuck in the middle of my brothers. They always get their way because one is older and one is the baby, and it’s not fair.” His sad brown eyes shift over to where his brothers play and relay the seriousness of his situation.

Kissing his forehead, I think of the picture he unknowingly painted with his words. My son grieves his place in the middle and I grieve my waiting during the pain; that complicated, unpleasant in-between.


 Aren’t we all waiting here in the middle?

To be human is to wait. We can find hope in the waiting—a yearning and a stretching towards something greater—often though, we harden during the wait.

We can miss the very best.

The Israelites waited for the promised Messiah, some, having grown tired of the wait missed Him altogether. Walking beside humanity on those dusty roads so very long ago was the very living, breathing, fulfillment of all our waiting.

He wasn’t only missed, he was completely rejected. He didn’t look how they thought he should so hearts were hardened and He was sentenced to death.

And now we find ourselves awaiting His return again—sure that we won’t miss Him this time around.

Like my boy, we lament the middle and the places where we feel stuck between the old and the new. We feel destined to never get our way.

And yet…

The middle is where grace is able to meet us best.

It is in the waiting, where He calls us His own. It was in the middle that He came down to us.

Walked beside us.

Wept with us.

Bled for us.

God with us.

The pain finds us here in the middle, somewhere between birth and death.

But so does He.

In the hospital.

At the graveside.

Through the depression.

Before the bad choice.

After the betrayal.

Despite the consequences.

He doesn’t leave us alone in the middle.


Content in the waiting

“We can’t see Him.” My dark-eyed boy answers as I tell Him of the Savior’s presence.

“Can you see the wind?” I question.

“No.” He replies.

Squinting, we gaze heavenward, toward the gentle giants above. “They feel the wind.” I point to the willows that bow low to touch their humble beginnings and sway in the summer’s breeze. “The wind becomes visible because of them.”

“So, you see, there’s no mistake. He placed you perfectly, right there in the middle to help hold up your brothers,” I say with a smile and a kiss on his freckled nose.

The boy with the dark eyes runs off, content for the moment with his place in the middle. And I, once more, find peace in the waiting.


I’m reminded that healing often happens in the waiting.

Because waiting takes faith and faith needs the wait to work properly. I don’t want to make the grave mistake of hardening during the wait and destroying the hope he places right beside me.

So, I wait.

He is here in the wait with me. Just as mighty as those towering willows, which bow low, he bends down to touch the simple. He speaks life through the smallest of places—like a hazel-eyed boy stuck in the middle.

I wait in the summer’s heat, in the middle, bending, but not breaking beneath the gusts of his love. Awaiting, like the trees, for autumns rest.

Here, I find the hope my heart has been longing for.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” Psalm 130:5 NASB


If you or someone you love experiences depression please know this; you are loved, valued and more precious than you know. Please seek help and seek out someone you trust to talk to about it. Whether you are the one going through the valley or the loved one helping – bringing your pain into the light brings healing.

Please feel free to contact me, I would be privileged to pray for you or your loved one.


 Awaiting Autumns rest-How to have hope through a season of depression.

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The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

Do you feel like you can't get things finished and finalized? Always in the middle of things? Here are hope and help. It's grace for the unfinished.

**This is the final post of a series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.

 

I’m notorious for running head first into anything—I love new beginnings.

The end? Yeah, not so much. I’m not really a goodbye kinda girl.

I’ve never been a closer and I’m not what you would call a strong finisher. Wrapping anything up (*aside from gift wrapping, I’m actually known for being a killer gift wrapper) is a struggle for me.

So, although my gift wrapping skills are epic, my wrapping-up skills are left lacking. I’m not sure how to end this series without just leaving you hanging.

But in my defense;

How do you end something on paper that could never be wrapped up this side of heaven?

 

The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

I am not complete and therefore, my story is not wrapped up in a neat and tidy bow. I’m betting that neither is yours and let’s be honest, some days that leaves us hurting.

When we’ve been in the trenches for longer than we care to be, we become weary and battle worn and expect some type of resolution. Quite often they don’t come or at least not in the way we’d like.

Maybe it’s just me, but endings seem sad when you can’t wrap them up neatly with a bow. Oh, the abundance of gift wrapping references…

The end better than the beginning?

The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, (aside from Jesus) thinks differently on that matter. He said the day of one’s death is better than the day of birth and the end of a thing is better than the beginning. (Ecclesiastes 7:1, 8)

It seems too counterintuitive to be true.

We celebrate babies and weddings with smiles and laughter, showering mothers and newlyweds with well wishes and hope. And in turn, we grieve the death of anything, pounding our fists on the fresh dirt of the grave, whether it be of our loved one or some long-held dream.

The end clearly can’t be better than a beginning.

Or is it?

On a spiritual level, where Jesus resides and I believe what He has done, I know my death will be better than my birth. But my finite mind grapples with understanding how the giver could be so much greater than the gift.

In the same way, I wrestle with how right now isn’t perfect and how there seems to be no tidy end. The same message is often on replay in my mind; “shouldn’t I be over everything now? Shouldn’t I be “fixed?” I mean, after all, I have Jesus and I’ve worked so hard.

The answer to these questions is simple really;

We weren’t meant to be perfectly happy here.

We were never meant to feel completely content on this swirling ball that hangs perilously amidst an unending black void.

For now, there really is no perfect ending, there’s “to be continued…”

We’re just in the midway.

I find we are in the middle here, processing, not so much paused—our pain certainly does not pause—the hard we experience here is not put on hiatus. Until we come face to face with the One that put us here in the first place, the struggles we face may have no real ending.

It’s okay to feel unfinished because truth is, we are.

Do you feel like you can't get things finished and finalized? Always in the middle of things? Here are hope and help. It's grace for the unfinished.

 

Friend, grace finds us where we’re at and not a minute after.

We will not be all tidied up this side of heaven. It’s just not how the story goes. I have come to believe we are meant to feel slightly unsettled with where we’re at.

My point to all of this is that if you’re wrestling with your anxiety and depression—or whatever you grapple repeatedly with—you are right where you’re supposed to be.

Don’t wait for tomorrow when your anxiety has stopped or when the depression finally ceases to do that thing you long to do.

If you’re waiting for perfect, chances are, you’ll wait a lifetime and it’ll never arrive.

We can search all day long for how to heal the broken spaces within us but without gazing directly into the face of the Holy, some broken spaces will stay… for now.

I still wrestle with my fears and doubts and long to tame the anxious beast that resides inside of me. I am not perfectly whole just yet and the same goes for you.

These truths may make you sad and a little unsettled, but Friend, I pray you’ll find comfort in being unfinished. It is here in the middle where He shapes, refines and perfects. There is SO MUCH unbelievable beauty in a God that died for our sins and imperfections and yet leaves them with us to shape us.

Beauty in the ugly

I have a love for flowers and I cherish that I can plant an ugly little seed in a bunch of gross, worm-ridden dirt and over time the most stunning, vividly bright and fragrant wildflowers will grow. I also adore the fact that it takes equal parts bright sunny days and gray, rainy ones to make them appear. Gorgeous little poppies or foxgloves will attract every type of curious little pollinator, they can’t help but be drawn to the fragrance and beauty.

I think it’s the same with our hard places;

Loveliness grows out of the most unlikely of dirty, worm-ridden spots and others are drawn to us because of them. Why? Because comfort, help, and hope have never come from perfect. Instead, it’s born from hard places in order to share with others.

There is no need for perfection and there is no need for getting it just right. Not here, not with Him.

There’s just heaping, endless amounts of grace for the really hard, crappy, useless days and likewise, for the sweet, simple, mostly perfect ones.

He didn’t come here for the fixed, He came for the sick, the sinner, the anxious, the depressed, the perfectionist, the addict, the prideful, the vain, and the (_____). Fill in the blank… (See Mark 2:17)

And you know what He calls them?

Chosen. Ephesians 1:4

Redeemed. Ephesians 1:7

Forgiven. Ephesians 1:7

Friend. John 15:15

Justified. Romans 3:24

We may be here in the middle, unfinished with broken places.

But not to Him.

He washed us, made us clean and calls us His own, even on our absolute worst days. We don’t have to tidy up to completion and have perfect endings and well-rounded stories. Because He already did all of that. He is the ultimate storyteller—His end is always SO much better than any of our beginnings.

In our battles, we find grace for today and that is all we need. Step by step, minute by minute, perfect, glorious, gritty, grace.

He is not finished with us yet

I’m ending this series, not because it’s complete, but because there’s not a perfect ending.

I want my blog to reflect the way I live my life; in the middle, a bit unfinished with equal parts rain and sun, making something beautiful from worm-ridden brown.

Here in this middle place of waiting to see the One that holds my heart and life in His hands, I long for the ending. I wait with a hope that honestly can’t be explained on an intellectual level, no matter how many well-placed words I string together.

My sweet friend, keep fighting the good fight and know that I fight it with you and so do a billion or more others. And one day soon we will meet Him face to face and He will tell us “well done.” Not because you got all perfected, but because you were bloodied and dirty and kept getting back up to fight.


The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

I’m linking up with some other fabulous bloggers this week:

Grace and Truth Link Up: Cultivating Wisdom
Tea And Word Link Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#LMMLinkup: Happy Indepence Day

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You are strong because you are imperfect…

These inner battles have prepared you for this moment. You are strong because you are imperfect. You are wise because you have doubts.”

(Darkest Hour)

 

I love history and I love nothing more than a good historical book or movie—know, wild and crazy, right?—I’m pretty sure you’re getting a really good view of what my Friday nights consist of.

My oldest son is just like me in this way. My greatest hope is not that he becomes a doctor or successful businessman, but rather, a history professor. He’d be amazing in this profession. I love that he searches for truth in history and longs to see what he can learn from it so he can share it with others.

We recently watched the movie, Darkest Hour, together. It’s an incredible movie for any of you history buffs out there.

The heading of this post is a line spoken by Winston Churchill’s wife to him when he is downtrodden and second-guessing himself. It honestly stopped me in my tracks because of the amazing truth it held.

You are strong because you are imperfect…

You are strong because of imperfection…

A few weeks ago I wrote about “hugging your cactus.” In simplified terms, it’s accepting your weakness and working within the parameters you’ve been given.

Contrary to the false belief I held for a very long time, every struggle is not neatly wrapped up this side of heaven. I lived in a fantasy world of a utopia at the end of every hard-earned, bloody battle.

Turns out I may have been slightly mistaken.

It is not our perfection that generates excellence after all, but our imperfections. They become the driving force which propels us to move forward and strive for more.

It is the constant beating down and getting back up again that produces substance, strength, and character.

I have an extremely obsessive brain, sensitive personality, and anxiety. I have learned it is a part of my brain that most likely will never entirely disappear. It’s obnoxious in the least, and crippling at its worst. Nonetheless, these obstacles have proven to build within me a tenacity and compassion that I believe I would lack otherwise.

It is the very weaknesses I hate that a loving God uses to chisel my form and build my character.

It is the very weaknesses I hate that a loving God uses to chisel my form and build my character.Click To Tweet

So, for this, I can thank Him and continue forward day-to-day. I still seek to overcome these struggles but also understand that this side of heaven they may stay with me.

And I can trust that in the staying, there is a purpose, a powerful God-given purpose.

You are wise because you have doubts…

I have struggled with doubts all of my life, whether it be about my Christian faith or about whether or not someone is telling me the truth.

I’m skeptical.

I never saw this as wisdom and truthfully, I see it mostly as a flaw. But when I chew a bit on the above statement, I realize that there is wisdom in doubts.

Why?

Because I can use the doubt to propel me forward to seek out further answers. It also forces me to check myself and my motives frequently.

I have two simple choices when it comes to doubts; I can either allow the doubt to cripple me or I can move forward in discovery and belief. I can only teeter on the tightrope of in-between for so long.

Every doubt I have ever had has led me to the eventual position of having to take a stand. Wrestling through the anxiety and confusion in the process has made me stronger.

You may fear you are the only one, but let me reassure you that you are not. I have had gut-wrenching, anxiety producing doubts about faith, life, and yes, even God. But these doubts and these fears, they are precisely what prompts us to dig deeper and lean into the only One that ultimately has the answer.

Doubts remind us that we are human and that we do not have all of the answers. They drive us to seek out wise counsel, which will either reaffirm our belief or shed light on our misconceptions.

These inner battles have prepared you for this moment…

The inner battles we struggle with are simply opportunities to grow, prepare and ultimately trust an infinite God.

Our imperfections and struggles are prime real estate where resilience, character, and the power of God grow best.


“I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do.” 

Corrie Ten Boom


You are strong because you are imperfect…

Linking up with some fellow bloggers at these sites, come over and check it out!

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Anxiety and Depression Series – 9 Practical Self-Care Tips

With anxiety and/or depression steering the rudder, it's the everyday things that are the most difficult. Therefore, every day is where we need to begin. As a part of the Anxiety and Depression Series, here are 9 Practical Self-Care Tips.

When I began struggling with anxiety and depression I often heard about the importance of self-care. The ideas I read at the time seemed frivolous, silly and unhelpful to me. Activities such as taking a bubble bath, getting my nails done or a night out was often suggested.

That’s fine in theory –

However, when you’re in a battle for your mind, taking a bubble bath isn’t an answer, it’s an unnecessary to-do that you don’t have the energy for.

I desperately wanted someone to take my hand and walk me through the strange, fogged out mental state I found myself in. Thinking straight was difficult enough, let alone actually DOING anything productive. I was constantly forgetting everyday things and at my worst, felt incapable of taking care of myself or my family.

I would love to tell the person that is deep in an anxious or depressed season –I seemed to go from one to the other in rapid succession – to take a vacation or go for a night out on the town. But in reality, this may not be possible or even desired.

With anxiety and/or depression steering the rudder, it’s the everyday things that are the most difficult. Therefore, every day is where we need to begin.

Anxiety and Depression Series – 9 Practical Self-Care Tips

Every Day To-Dos:

  1. Get up and make your bed.

    As I’ve mentioned before one of the main symptoms of my anxiety was insomnia. For a long time, the easy thing to do was lay around and not make my bed or do barely anything when I was so exhausted. At some point during my struggles, I decided to make my bed every day, no matter what. Even on days I barely slept I would force myself to get up out of bed and make it. Something about the act of putting all of the pillows and blankets back on my bed each morning made me feel as though I had a do-over, a fresh start. Over time I made my bedroom into a soothing sanctuary rather than a place where I felt anxious about sleeping… or lack thereof. Maybe it’s not your bed for you, but I would encourage you to find that one thing that you can do each day that says to yourself, “Today is new, yesterday is gone.”

  2. Brush your teeth, wash your face, shower and do your hair. 

    Some days of depression can leave you feeling as though brushing your hair is the most exhausting task in the world. Cleaning up and caring for your body each day sends a signal to your brain that you are still living and you are worth it. I’m not talking about getting dressed up and doing a full face of makeup. (If you can, great!) I’m talking, clean teeth, clean face, clean hair, clean clothes. If only one out of all of these is accomplished – that’s ok. But when you’ve done it, you’ve accomplished something and this sends an affirming signal to your brain.

  3. Family Care.

    It’s hard enough taking care of yourself, throw a bunch of kids into the mix and you’re left feeling incapable. I’m going to pause here and tell you mom-to-mom (or dad, if this is you) It’s ok to not give them their perfect nightly bedtime routine, I promise THEY WILL LIVE! We are so darn hard on ourselves – throw in anxiety and depression and every mistake becomes a”10,” when in reality, it’s not a big deal at all. Write out a reminder to do those important things for your kids and family, whether that be brushing teeth, bathing or homework. Maybe put a pop-up on your phone or a note where you look every day.

  4. Eat. 

    Anxiety especially can wreak havoc on a digestive system. There were times I could not physically keep food down because of the anxiety I felt. I had to learn how and what to eat during these times. I would suggest having healthy, easy to eat options around. No sugar added applesauce was a go-to for me. I love that now they have little squeeze packs. Yes, they’re for kids, but they should totally be marketed to people with anxiety! There are great options that contain veggies and fruits now. Other foods I found helpful were oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes. Making sure to get protein is important. Smoothies that have protein in them are a great option as well. Try your best to steer clear of unnecessary sugar and caffeine.

  5. Talk to your doctor.

    Whether it’s getting on an anti-depressant or getting blood tests for deficiencies, this step is an absolute necessity. It’s also a great idea to bring a loved one with you to the appointment, they can be your voice when you can’t find your own. Which brings me to #6:

  6. Ask for help. 

    It’s so hard going through anxiety and depression alone. You are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and still need to take care of yourself, family and possibly a job as well. Do not be afraid to reach out to family or friends that you trust to help.  If you have the money to do so, hire a house cleaner or get a service that delivers meals. Anything that relieves the pressure. *On the flip side, if you have a friend or family member suffering in this way, PLEASE help them. Bring a meal, watch their kids, hang out with them. DO NOT shy away. 

  7. Exercise. 

    I know, I know… who wants to exercise when you are anxious or depressed? Trust me, your body and your mind NEED this. Even if it is only a walk; strap on your shoes and go outside. It is proven to stimulate all of the feel goods inside your body. Even on days I struggle with sleep or feel really down, I force myself to do my workout and without fail, I feel better. So go out and walk, run, swim, bike, swing or take your dog out for a walk – speaking of:

  8. Spend time with pets/kids/family & friends. 

    Our greatest problem is that we forget to get out of our own heads. Begin that process of stepping outside of yourself for a moment and really listen to someone or something else. I love sitting with my dog and just petting her when I’m anxious or talking with one of my kids and listening to their day. It’s a win/win because I feel lighter and they are happy because they are getting my undivided attention.

  9. Get rid of all unnecessary to-dos with a brain dump. 

    I remember one particular day, I was having a really anxious time and my mind wouldn’t shut up, I was sure I had failed at life. I decided to write out my to-do’s to organize my thoughts. When I did, I realized that really only 2 of the things on the list needed to be done and the rest were unrealistic expectations I was putting on myself. There are days you will not have it in you to do the big things. Be okay with that and let it go for a day when you do have the energy. When the unnecessary to-do’s pop up again, remind yourself that you wrote it down and it’s not for today.

And last but not least: Remember, you are going through something very real, Give yourself time to heal and give yourself grace…

Your body is reacting to everything going on in your mind. Taking care of yourself is your job right now.

Put your to-do list somewhere where you can see it every day and congratulate yourself for everything you accomplish. It may seem silly to be proud of brushing your teeth but it’s not. You are taking care of yourself and your family, against all odds. You overcome a little more every day when you choose to actively participate in your life, in spite of the anxiety and/or depression you feel.


A necessary disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am not a professional with letters after my name. I am someone who has lived with anxiety and depression for over 20 years. Read about me here. I may have life experience and insight… But I would suggest you seek professional help if you feel you need it.

 

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