Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Onward & Upward

It has been a long time since I’ve had a severe bout of depression. I’ve had bad days and bad weeks, but it’s been about six months since my depression was really terrible.
But while I haven’t been ‘bad’, I haven’t really been good either. Once again, I’ve had good days and good weeks, but ‘good’ is not the word I would use to describe my mental / emotional state overall.
I’ve been drifting along somewhere in the middle, taking what each day brings me – happy, content, hurting, or fearful - but not exploring my feelings too deeply. Overthinking never works in my favor.
I hate this place of listlessness. Of not doing, not thinking, not feeling, not trying... I don’t like feeling like I’m wasting time. My hands are fidgety with the desire to do something, my mind is aching for a spark of creativity. The air has long since grown stale where I am, but there is one thing keeping me here. One thing holding me back from truly living.
That thing is fear.
‘Good’ scares me. ‘Happy’ scares me. Genuinely ‘okay’ scares me.
Because as soon as I realize that I’m doing pretty good, I slip. And the higher I’ve climbed, the harder I fall.
Maybe this sounds silly to you. Or perhaps you understand. It is a ridiculous fear – to be afraid of being happy because it means that you can be just the opposite. It’s like being afraid to love because loving gives someone the power to hurt you.
It makes you vulnerable.
Imagine that you are in imminent danger. You see a ladder near at hand and, that being your only way of escape, begin climbing, despite your deep fear of heights. You are far too desperate to think of that now.
You climb hurriedly until you are relatively safe. You pause, breathing deeply in an attempt to slow your racing heart, silently thanking God for saving you. You close your eyes briefly...
And then you look down.
Your body goes rigid, and your grip tightens around the ladder rung. You can’t see the bottom; only a deep darkness. An ache twists through your stomach as your fear of heights sets in.
What can you do? You can’t go back down; you know what evil lies below. Up seems the only option, but you don’t trust your sweaty palms and nervous feet to get you there safely.
It appears that you have reached a stalemate. Down is dangerous, up even more so; the higher you climb, the worse it will be when you fall - and you surely will fall. So you remain where you are, balanced between the two; content with being comparatively ‘safe’, even if it isn’t where you want to be.
It’s ridiculous, but it makes sense. Our natural reaction to fear is to protect ourselves from the danger. But sometimes, protecting yourself binds you a prisoner.
I have been in some terrifyingly dark places. I have thought and felt things that I don’t ever want to experience again. I know the power of depression, and I know my weaknesses. Happiness and peace and contentment are not what I’m really afraid of. I’m afraid of obtaining those things and losing them again, only to end up in a much, much worse place.
It’s a matter of wanting to be safe. Wanting to be in some kind of control.
It’s a matter of not trusting God.
And it is so massively frustrating, because I know that He is worthy of my complete trust. I know it. Yet there is a part of me that stubbornly gropes for control, part of me that caves in to fear.
I trust Him with my head, but not my heart.
It’s a sobering and distressing thought.
You can’t talk yourself into trusting someone. To build trust, you have to what? Get to know them. And how do we get to know God? By praying and reading His word.
Oh, but I don’t have time for that. Er – okay, I technically have ‘time’, but I can’t ever seem to focus. Too tired in the morning, too tired at night; and during the afternoon is out of the question because I can’t just focus. Noisy kids, messy house, rambling thoughts, social media calling for my attention... Even when I do try to read my Bible (which I have been doing more frequently), I don’t seem to get much out of it because of my lack of concentration.
Excuses, excuses... they repulse me. When did I let myself start living so shallowly? When did I become content with complacency?
There is more to this life; I’ve tasted it. I know what it is like to be filled with peace that surpasses all understanding. I know that it is like to be filled with incomprehensible awe and desire for my Savior.
I know what it is like to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He loves me.
And yet I still decide to trust in myself. I still give in to my fears, rather than trusting in His faithfulness. I forget to remind myself of His grace and goodness. I am starving myself of the one thing that will truly satisfy.
        But no more.
        There is life to be lived – adventures to be had, battles to be fought, trials to be overcome, blessings to be received, joy to be experienced. He has promised us so much, if only we love and trust Him enough to keep climbing, keep pursuing Him.
He is my God. What else can I do?