West Virginia Morning: When You Love Someone Who has Depression, II

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When the alarm goes off in the morning, she hears him sigh deeply beside her. It’s the sigh that reaches through the long span of the ages, the sigh of Adam waking from dreams of the Garden in his later years. It’s the sigh of brokenness, the loathing to open the eyes, the dread of what the day may hold. They haven’t even gotten out of bed yet and already defeat sits heavy on her chest.

Right then, she has a choice. And too often she has chosen the way of anger, of bitterness and frustration, of sorrow.

But today, because spring is coming on and she can hear the robins singing lustily outside the window, today she makes another choice.

Before she opens her eyes, she whispers the words tucked into her heart.

“Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I’ll lift up my soul.” (Psalm 143:7-8)

The words are wooden, lifeless, remote. There, on the edge of sleep they do not have a body to animate their meaning. She lifts the covers, swings her legs around and plants her feet on the floor. She knows the way to bring the words to life. It’s the only thing that works for her lately. She moves quietly down the stairs and sits by the bay. She watches the first fingers of light stroke the earth tenderly. Already, she feels the Spirit move within her. She fingers the oniony pages that breathe life until she finds what she is looking for.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8)

Ten minutes. That’s all it took. But some days the weight of those ten minutes is too heavy to move her out of bed.

“The Christian must not only accept suffering,” says Thomas Merton, “he must make it holy. Nothing so easily becomes unholy as suffering.”

Only faith in God can consecrate suffering, he says. Suffering by itself is evil, but when we seek God within it, we are able to receive more abundantly the mercy and grace of God.

Why is this so hard to do? To deliberately hand over this pain? Because it feels like it is not hers to give. She is a bystander, an observer. At first blush, these seem to claim the passive role. Hasn’t she already begged for action? Hasn’t she bumped up against that wall time and time again?

But this darkness covers the entire household. She watches helplessly as it enfolds her children, inking out the light of the early years. And she knows she must be the one who acts. So she begins. She declares war on the dark. She fights it with light, with Words of Light. She knows the light is more powerful than the dark. It only requires a flint.

She resolves to let beauty be that spark. Whenever the dark threatens, this is where she will go. Into beauty and light.

practice:

~look up some Bible verses that strengthen your resolve and fill your heart with light.

~try to commit at least one of these verses to memory so that you can make it your prayer first thing in the morning–even before opening your eyes.

~find the thing that moves your thoughts to a better place. For me, it’s watching the sky flood with light first thing in the morning. It might be music, or gardening, or a puppy. Seek out quiet moments to invest here. And let your soul be strengthened.

**This Friday series contains reflections on loving someone who has Depression. If you are in this place, or know someone who is, I hope you’ll join me in this journey. These words cannot replace medical or psychological treatment, but I hope they will be a source of encouragement.

Part One: When You Love Someone Who Has Depression

Comments

  1. says

    And for me, it’s this bit of His Word from Psalm 40:1-2

    I waited patiently for the Lord;
    And He inclined to me,
    And heard my cry.
    He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
    Out of the miry clay,
    And set my feet upon a rock,
    And established my steps.

    pit of darkness bleeds
    hearts, beats them hard against His
    grace. love flows – always.

  2. says

    Oh friend. I have battled depression since my moms passing and have learned time and again that “He” is my only answer. The medicine helps, but HE is my healer. Your words resonate in such a way for me. Praying joy and peace….

  3. says

    Laura, I pray that the Lord will bless you richly for your bravery in sharing about this topic. I’ve battled a serious depression for years and as I heal and come out of it, I realize and grieve the toll it has taken on my family, especially my husband. I’m going to share your blog with him, and reference it as I write and speak about depression in my own circles. This is just so needed. And I am adding you and your loved one to my prayer list today. Much love, gillian

  4. says

    Laura,

    Praying for you and your family…sending a big ((hugs))….I like the promise in John 1:4-5 about how the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it….that is what came to mind as I read your words …I also love Deut. 31:8 which you shared…much love to you…

  5. Heidi Murdoch (Nancy's Cousin) says

    Hi Laura,

    Depression is usually a symptom of other physical illness that often times is treated as if it is the primary illness (shocking, I know). There is life after depression. I am praying for you. Contact me if you would like. I won’t hijack your post. 🙂 Blessings!

  6. says

    I wrote out my verses on 3 x 5 cards, put them in a ziplock, tucked them in my purse, and carried them around wherever I went for months. Whenever the onslaught of negative thinking would start to descend, I pulled them out and read them through. (A doctor walked in on me once while I had them out in his exam room and asked me if I was studying for a test. “Why yes, I am,” I replied. “It’s just not the kind you take on paper.”)

    Much love, Laura. I am so thankful that you are sharing your story. There is powerful healing in the telling.

  7. says

    So good, Laura! And in your position, you need to take care of yourself–like, ridiculously. What you actually need will seem impossible, but it’s essential. To walk the journey I have walked and continue to walk, in the observer role, like you, I need about three hours a day that are solely for me. I don’t take them all at once, but I’d be dead by now if I hadn’t.

  8. says

    another habit that helps? (from a counselor who spoke into my life)–don’t own the other person’s brokenness. Easy to do(owning it) when we are so close… and hard to let go of. I have to lean on the Holy Spirit daily for that one. Overand over again.

    Praying for you.

  9. Lynn D. Morrissey says

    Laura, thank you so much for shedding light on a difficult, painful subject, and for making it holy. Thank you for offering encouragement and hope when it often feels there is none. So beautifully, poignantly, lovingingly shared.
    Love
    Lynn

  10. Mary Gemmill says

    Laura….it must be hard, often, but I am sure many will have been encouraged by this series and will have learnt practical steps to take to help someone with depression.
    There is nothing better than suffering being redeemed in such a way as you have done with this series.
    We do indeed know of the fellowship of His sufferings. but also we know of His mercy and grace,
    and these mercies are new every morning.
    May all who suffer look to Jesus, and find solace in Him.
    May the Lord rest His blessing on your and your family, in Jesus Name.

  11. says

    “Kicking at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.” Bruce Cockburn Depression and I aren’t friends anymore. It used to be when depression showed up I would pull out a chair for him and say, “Ah, my friend! Sit. Sit. Let’s do some catching up!” He still shows up, but when I am on my “A” game I give him a deer-in-the-headlights look, clutch my coffee and write, meditate, pray, or avoid him by the busy life that is always available.

    I like the verses above. Thomas Merton…ah yes, good.

    Sure, I can pray “Why is my soul downcast and disquieted within me.” That’s just being honest with God and myself, but to hang my spiritual hat there day in and day out…ew. Good words here Laura.

    “Only faith in God can consecrate suffering, he says. Suffering by itself is evil, but when we seek God within it, we are able to receive more abundantly the mercy and grace of God.”

    Nailed it. Nailed it (Him) right to the cross…that great “crux” of the matter.

    Thank you Laura. Grace and peace.

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