Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing

I have been absent for awhile, absent although not absent in thought. The words have failed me. I couldn’t speak because I didn’t know how. You see this is a post about loss, specifically my recent loss, our recent loss, something so deep and painful for me that it would be easiest to lose the words forever and shut them up in my heart letting them wilt into nothingness, That is even more painful though, and pain is powerful but can be redeemed. But this is not really only a post about loss it is much more a post about Joy, Rejoicing. I will explain later.

Before I go any further please stop reading now if you will be uncomfortable with how real I am about to get with my account. I feel I cannot better explain except for truthfully and plainly. This is all part of my healing process as God pours grace and mercy on me. Additionally this is my pain, yours may be much greater in the scales of things that hurt, so know there is no comparison and I am not saying I understand all pain, nor do I even understand mine. This is just a story.

I am no good with dates, so some of these that I am throwing out are arbitrary. A few months ago as I started to feel the familiar queasiness and exhaustion I had a feeling that there was something happening, that familiar something that had happened twice before. We checked and positive was the answer. Mixed emotions of joy and worry ensued. Joy because a child is always a joyful occasion and worry because the “What are we going to do?”s start. We we’re happy, as happy as a couple could be as we started dreaming and planning. We we’re keeping it a secret for most until the time we felt was appropriate, it was still really early and we felt it was best. We still talked and dreamt about this little one forming and growing and starting making plans as we anticipated.

I was less than a week out from my first OB appointment because we could not calculate the date of conception correctly. I hadn’t even seen a doctor yet when scary things started happening. Over the weekend I started feeling very off, I felt off before any signs there was anything wrong happened. The feeling started on a Friday and mild spotting followed. Because spotting could be normal I tried to remind myself of this and just rest my mind. What started mild became much worse and alarming, enough to require an Emergency Room visit on Monday of the next week. There was nothing they could say, everything looked fine but my body said different. They told me it was “o.k.”. The ultrasound said I was still pregnant, they said I was fine but to go home and rest. They tried to assure me. I don’t know if it was that I knew different or that I couldn’t trust them in that situation, but I knew it felt like empty assurances. The next day I knew for certain, I cried and prayed for the bleeding to stop, for everything to go back to normal, rewind the last few days. It didn’t. I miscarried on Tuesday Morning. It was the worst and most painful experience and there is no point in sharing the minute details but know it was tramautic, emotionally and physically.

Not because I am super spiritual but there hangs a picture on our bathroom wall of a woman robed in white clinging to a rock amongst a lapping torrent of waves. The only thing I could think of was to stare at it and out of a need for comfort I started to sing Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee. I needed that rock for comfort in my time of need and sorrow.

So, on Tuesday Morning I knew and the Doctor confirmed it on Wednesday Morning. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, it still feels a little that way. The Doctor was telling me that it wasn’t my fault and there are the statistics and the good news was that it probably won’t happen again and I was screaming on the inside not knowing if I should sit and listen or run away and I was just trying to make it through the appointment, praying silently, without passing out.

Emotions are like a wave now, sometimes it hits me so hard I feel like I’ve been kneed in the chest and other times it’s a smaller ebb of pain intermingled with this growing peace. I prayed for peace and am still praying for peace, it comes, if you ask. It may take time for you to ask. It may take pain ebbs lessening, perhaps anger too, to learn to rejoice in the suffering and in your sorrow, but I am learning so much about the sweetness of God in even my sorrow. I need the reminders to myself.

Charles Spurgeon said “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” and isn’t that such a beautiful quote. I hold that quote very close to my heart because I feel a lifetime of dissapointment with people, with the world and as I struggle with depression and recent events I need that rock. This is not a post about a miscarriage or loss really or definitely not a request for pity. This a post about learning to kiss the waves, those hideous waves.  This is an encouragement. It is about being sorrowful, yes, sorrow is appropriate and needed for healing but in that sorrow there is a source for that can bring joy and rejoicing despite it. I am preaching this to myself.

That title Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing did not come from my own head, it comes from 2 Corinthians 6:10:

 As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

This foreign notion that I could have sorrow and rejoice as well is not of the World. It is an otherworldly notion. It is a mark of a believer, joy.

C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven”

I have had to ask myself very recently, am I joyful person? I may look joyful on the surface, but am I truly joyful? The answer most times has been “No”. Truthfully, my human nature is one of a bitter, jealous and angry person. I am in need of that joy, desperately. Jesus is transforming me daily and I want to grasp and cling to that joy as slowly or as quickly, I pray, as it comes for me.

I am definitely not telling you to pick yourself up by the bootstraps, to just feel better, or that it’ll all work out or whatever bad advice you have been given. Well meaning people give a lot of bad advice. This is a hurting person saying that there is a source that can heal all wounds. There is a reason to rejoice in our suffering, believers.

There is a line in Rock of Ages that goes:

Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.

It may feel like tears will forever flow and I can’t tell you they won’t but we can learn from Christ and others that have gone before us to rejoice through our sorrow that there is nothing that this world can offer to heal my broken heart, to heal yours but there is one we can hide ourselves in, the Rock is cleaved for me, for you, for all that would plead for it. Thank God.

I am not trying to make anyone uncomfortable with this post but the fact of the matter that through this very personal suffering some things have become very clear to me about my personal faith and I can only respond to God’s grace with boldness. I can only want for you joy.  If you do not know the comfort of Christ in your situation and have long suffered or would like to know God, I want to pray with you, for you. Let us run to the throne and rejoice, the wonderful, frightfully beautiful throne of the Rock of Ages.

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I am sharing the artwork I made for this post. I hope it can be a comfort, as well as this song by Liz Vice that has brought me much comfort recently. Also if you like big words like Christian Hedonism you can read more about Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing from people that know much more than I: The Ethos of Christian Hedonism; Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing-John Piper

SYAR print 4×6

SYAR print 8×10

Also, I hope you like the new look to the site, I worked on it to make it more clean, readable and fit my aesthetic. Hope you enjoy.

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This is a Post about Depression

 

So, I was going to post a homeschool post today but there are so many thoughts going on in my head I needed to thoughtfully and carefully write them out. Most of us in the Modern World know that we lost a person very dear to a lot of us. Robin Williams, the Man who was still a Boy at heart passed yesterday of an apparent suicide stemming from his depression. How I cried all night. It feels like losing a dear friend but on top of that when I heard the news with the words DEAD, SUICIDE, DEPRESSION in the title, all the air felt like it was sucked from the room never to return. Why? Because this is a very real battle for a lot of us. A lot of you know that I have struggled with Depression and know that even though much better these days, I still battle it. You may not know all the details, not even my family other than my husband does and I am going to bear my soul here as humbly as I can and then outline why there is hope for me and all hopeless through Faith and help from others.

I have struggled with Depression all of my life, shockingly, even people in my family say that isn’t the truth. They remember me as a happy person and can’t believe this to be true. Yes, Happy people can be depressed, they can be dying on the inside and smiling on the outside and that’s even so much more painful. Fake, plastic smiles tear at our hearts but we feel too burdened to share our thoughts and struggles with genuinely happy people. As a Teen and an Adult I was one of those “happy people”, joyful, laughing, and just tired and worn down to bare threads on the inside. I’d wake up and immediately be overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions and wish to fall asleep for a hundred years like Rip Van Winkle until I could feel better. Everyone has days they don’t want to get out of bed but when you have whole years like that, there is something wrong. It really is hard to describe it someone that has never felt it before but this is how I’ve described it recently, I’ll quote myself: “It feels like being sewn into a mattress and that mattress being buried in the ground under the weight of million pervasive thoughts while you are screaming at the top of your lungs and no one in the world can hear you. It feels heart wrenching and suffocating all at the same time.”  That is the best way I can describe it. Even more shockingly I struggled with Suicidal Ideation and I want to be completely candid on bad days I still struggle with this. Suicidal Ideation is…”Strictly speaking, suicidal ideation means wanting to take one’s own life or thinking about suicide without actually making plans to commit suicide. However, the term suicidal ideation is often used more generally to refer to having the intent to commit suicide, including planning how it will be done”. These are sick and twisted thoughts that someone with Chronic Depression deals with. A Depression that can suffocate us and knit us into Darkness and Death.

I sat on a hill facing the Savannah River about three years ago, before Alice was born, feeling every bit of a failure at life and my circumstances, not wanting to wake up each day, wishing for rest from all the black noise. I would stare at the water and idealize just walking in and not coming out like a Modern-Day Virginia Woolf. I would be driving down the interstate and would imagine, what if? What if I just turned the wheel a little too much in the other direction, would it be quick and  painless? What if just “accidentally” took all these sleeping pills. I would imagine what it would be like if I died, who would mourn for me and I would get a sort of sick satisfaction thinking that people that had abandoned me, forgotten me, or looked poorly on me would shed tears for me. In these times the thoughts are pervasive, not a lot of reason is employed.  You aren’t thinking what about my family, will they be ok? or what about my Daughter, how could she live without a Mother? These are pushed back and replaced by the darkness. Maybe so far this post may be too much for anyone reading and perhaps it may seem pitiful at best, but I am hoping by sharing this, someone can see that there is hope for spiritual and mental darkness. While I thought these things, I didn’t want to talk about them, my Husband would ask me what was wrong and I didn’t want to talk about it, and even in the times that I did I didn’t know how to verbalize it. My mouth was moving and nothing was coming out. I needed prayer.

I am a believer and depression has many ramifications on your faith and vice-versa. Part of my problem was that I believed I was to long waiting for my life to be the stuff of dreams. I was like David in the “miry-bog” of his own thoughts. John Piper says this in When the Darkness will not Lift:

The king of Israel is in “the pit of destruction” and “the miry bog”—descriptions of his spiritual condition. The
song of praise is coming, he says, but it is not now on his lips. It is as if David had fallen into a deep, dark well and
plunged into life-threatening mud. There was one other time when David wrote about this kind of experience. He
combined the images of mud and flood: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in
deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Ps. 69:1-2).
In this pit of mud and destruction there is a sense of helplessness and desperation. Suddenly air, just air, is
worth a million dollars.

This is it exactly and I can identify with a King in this instance, fallen into a deep, dark well and life threatening mud. There are many reasons people suffer with depression whether it be clinical or brought on by external situations but many times a believer that struggles with depression will very much wonder if they are still God’s or if their faith is real. This not really theological thinking so no points of whether Salvation can truly be lost or etc. come into mind. Sin is mingled with depression and both contribute to the other quite heavily.  I am not saying the reason you are depressed is because you are a sinner, if that we’re the case every human being would be (even though is some cases it may be) but Sin adds flame to fire, while Depression allows sin to go un-named or worse torture us, at least in my experience.

In the presence of Depression there is a want and lack of Joy. Regaining Joy is important, it seems lost and can’t be refound, it went to some long forgotten place and can’t find it’s way home. I will share what has helped in my life as a believer and given me hope and is still helping because I still fight it. I am not a doctor or counselor but can speak as someone who fights this fight. Firstly, Pray, God is listening, He knows our pain and can lift us from it. Pray when you wake up and when you fall asleep, when you eat, wehn you shower, when you are driving, any, pray for deliverance. These are not fruitless prayers, there is Someone listening. Secondly, turn toward the Word, God has given many substantial scriptures to encourage those in Darkness, there is Hope there for the Hopeless.

He sets us on the Rock:

I waited patiently for the LORD;

he inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the pit of destruction,

out of the miry bog,

and set my feet upon a rock,

making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,

and put their trust in the LORD. Psalms 40:1-3

These following verses have been great comfort for me:

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. Psalm 42

 There is a song that I would listen that pertains to this and I would just weep in desire for Hope and Joy that felt so long far away, I’ll share it at the bottom of the page. Thirdly, it is very important to reframe Joy in our lives. While we are waiting for the big things to happen or God to work miracles we forget to see the little miraculous things are happening in each moment. I was really helped by reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, it help me to name all the little things I was thankful for no matter how mundane. I began to thank God for the smell of Grass and for warm baths and for little girl laughs. It was a beautiful transformation of mind. When I am feeling low I still do this. When your gifts outnumber your trials so much so it can cause major shifts in our Worldly thinking. Lastly, I encourage you to talk to someone, anyone, friends, loved ones, Pastors, a counselor, a doctor. People that love you deserve to know what you are going through and that is the only way they can help you, pray for you and encourage you. There are very real physical, clinical and external reasons that someone might fall into depression and it helps to talk, even when it doesn’t feel like it, to get to the heart of what is causing it. My Husband was this person for me, he refused to let me go and just waited on me until I was ready to talk about it, he put my suffering in to Godly terms, pointing me toward the Cross. I am very thankful.

I can tell you there is Hope in Christ. If we look on Him, He can take this yoke from us. It may not happen overnight and it may always still be a fight we must fight but know that His burden is so much lighter than the turmoil of dark thoughts. I want to encourage anyone that needs someone to talk to please comment, text, message me, etc. I know what it is like, I am slowly recovering through the help of a Big God. I may always struggle and that is ok because that Big God is on my side.

I do want to say something to all that are onlookers of depression, hurting with those hurting. My Facebook post last night after the news was this: “Depression is a real and terrible battle. It feels like being sewn into a mattress and that mattress being buried in the ground under the weight of million pervasive thoughts while you are screaming at the top of your lungs and no one in the world can hear you. It feels heart wrenching and suffocating all at the same time. Reach out to friends you know that struggle, pray for them, call them, send a letter, tell them you love them, ask them how you can help without offering opinions….and then wait, but please help. This is an all too real and painful fight.”. Simply put pray for them, hug them and do not let go.

 Like a bed of rest for my fainting flesh.