Two things happened last year:
1.) My marriage fell apart
2.) I spiraled into a deep, dark depression.
(And for the record, the only thing more terrifying than the first, is the second.)
Depression isn’t a word I use lightly (or often) even among my closest family and friends. I have never written specifically about my battle with depression, though I have written through it here on this blog (one of my most cherished posts is this which was written when I thought I couldn’t hang on much longer.)
In my fight with depression there have been:
- Paralyzing headaches that have knocked me off my feet for days
- A complete loss of appetite, which I attribute to having absolutely no joy found in anything, even eating!
- A loss of memory. There are weeks of my life I have zero recollection of, and months upon months that are just a fragmented compilation of oftentimes hazy events.
- A constant battle with sleep – Sometimes I slept waaaaaay too much, other times I couldn’t sleep at all, or the sleep I did have was chock-full of nightmares.
- Terrorizing anxiety attacks came on suddenly and caused the rawest emotions welling deep inside me to erupt into physical traits that were worthy of a mental hospital. (i.e. shaking violently in rage, hyper ventilating to the point I feared my heart might give out, sobbing so hard I was nearly screaming – a sight seen, that would have no doubt had me committed.)
It was during this time I also had my first thought to end it all;
When while clutching the steering wheel between my hands I realized – with just one sharp turn – all the pain could be gone.
Life had become unbearable.
In the Bible there was a man named Job who knew that feeling well, when while faced with such anguish over all he had lost he begged God to kill him for fear there was nothing more to live for.
Job had literally lost E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G; his children, his fortune and like me, his health. And it was while reading his story, a verse caught my eye…
After chapter upon chapter of suffering and torture, days tormented with depression and despair it says,“The Lord restored [Job’s] fortunes. In fact the Lord gave him twice as much as before!”
…Surprisingly though, that wasn’t the verse that first intrigued me.
Considering how much I lost myself, God doubling the ‘pennies’ left of my own sanity, happiness and (quite literally) the pennies left in my bank account still wouldn’t be much to write home about. That, and a depressed person doesn’t give a damn about possessions! (Interestingly, they also don’t give a damn what people think of them cursing.)
Instead, the verse that captivated me most was the very last one,
“Then [Job] died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.”
Having struggled with depression for some time, here's what I know:
A full life is the opposite of a depressed one.
A ‘full life’ isn’t one taut with apprehension and sleepless nights like the existence I was plagued with, but one filled with rejoicing, spontaneity and gut-wrenching belly laughs.
A ‘full life’ was brimming with the simplest and sweetest pleasures, like a house overflowing with good wine and even better company, or riding in the car with the windows rolled down as you savor the sun on your cheeks and the crisp air blowing through your hair.
A ‘full life’ trades waking up with dread, for reason upon reason to meet each day with unmerited anticipation – not absent of pain, but far from overcome by it either!
… and it’s everything in 2014 that felt so savagely stolen from my possession!
A full life was what God was promising to restore in me.
As the year came to a close, I could clearly hear God saying, “I will give you back what you lost…” (Joel 2:25)
…And against my better judgement, I believed him!
So much so, that my husband and I did something nutty. Like for real, completely crazy…
We zeroed out our bank account.
New Years Eve 2014 we ended the year by giving every last cent we had back to God, leaving a staggering ZERO left in savings, and the same alarming amount in checking.
I don’t say that to brag, in fact believe me, if you knew how little we gave you would see it was nothing to brag about (only further proof that like Job, we had lost everything!)
Even my attitude was nothing to brag about. Although it would have made for a more moving blog post to describe myself kneeling at a candlelit alter, clutching tightly all that I had and lying it in reverence at His feet… I was far from it.
Instead I kind of rolled my eyes and chucked it at Him saying, In your effort to take everything from me… you missed something, God.
But another part of me, a very small part, wondered if God would do what He said He would…
Wondering to myself, what it might look like if God were to restore my life – the life, He so willingly allowed me to lose!
I scribbled these thoughts in my journal on the first day of the New Year,
“A full life is what God is promising to restore in me and you. I don’t know how I will get there, but I believe it’s what God grants to those like Job, who cling to Him through their heartbreak.
No matter how much we have lost or how close we are today to letting go of it all, God is promising if we hang on with all the strength we have left – literally up until the very last verse like Job – there is a full life awaiting each us.”
I turned the page and penned God’s promise to me across the top of a fresh sheet of paper in my journal – “I will give you back what you lost.”
And it was there I promised to record all the things God did to restore my marriage, my happiness and my finances in 2015 (Heck, if God wanted to bless me with a washer and dryer while He was at it, I would write that there too!)
In expectation I closed my eyes and held the palm of my hand on the blank sheet of paper, and whispered like I had done countless times before,
Lord, I want to stand in awe of you…
Never knowing the miracles that would soon spill over those pages in just a matter of months.