Overpowering darkness. That's how I once described the endless negativity rattling around in my brain. I knew the thoughts in my head weren't true, but they were increasingly loud, and I couldn't escape them, even though I knew Jesus.
When I walked alone in the depths of the mirky abyss, I had four young ones that needed raising which included their homeschool schedules. I went through the daily motions all the while longing for my closet so I could sit quietly and cry. I loved them, I loved my husband, I loved my life. I loved Jesus. Still do. And they loved me. Still do. I had no reason in the world to be unhappy, and that in itself made me more sad. I seemed to be in a constant battle with my own brain to either hide my sadness, or wrestle with the logic of why I shouldn't feel these things. My inner being was lying to me and I had to fight these thoughts. Daily. Hourly.
This, my friends, is why depression is so exhausting. Fighting a daily bloody war inside your head all the while keeping the facade in place is debilitating. My brain became a mine field. Lies came fast and furious leaving me hollow and numb. I don't understand why it happens, why the brain steps out of sync chemically. I didn't feel sinful, or sick, just oppressively dark. I had Jesus. I was supposed to have hope. I told myself I DID have hope. I just didn't FEEL hopeful. A silent battle raged.
Why are we sometimes driven to have to fight our own thoughts? Paul discusses this in 2 Corinthians. He talks about 'taking every thought captive', as an enemy would. Somehow now I understood that verse in a different light. This was, in fact, a battle. I needed to take captives. I knew on a deeper level this debilitating barrage was lies, but it was still like standing alone on a firing line, when I had no idea why I was being punished, and I was helpless to escape it, let alone fight back.
I knew that in order to win, I must capture every one of those thoughts and call it a lie, and watch it disintegrate. But there were so many, and I felt I was fighting alone, in the desert. Fighting a battle alone, or so it seemed, drove me to cling to the Truth. By my fingernails many days. I needed help.
Then I read another verse one day, my favorite, my life verse, Jeremiah 29:11.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
His plans for me were and will always include a bright future. I KNOW this. I KNOW He is My HOPE. On this day I kept reading.
"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
And this one blew me away.
I will be found by you", declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you", declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
This was what I felt like. I was in exile. In a desert, alone being pounded. Here's what he taught me though. Exile doesn't mean 'without God'. He lives in the desert, just as He lives in the green, fertile valley, on a pristine mountaintop, or at the seashore. In exile means 'without other people'.
I was in exile and I was forced to learn what, and who, to trust in the midst of profound dryness. I had to fight and take captive my own being and learn to trust His truth instead. He was still here. And He knew my plight. He knew I was fighting my own thoughts. He knew I felt alone. He knew.
Sometimes periods of desert just happen. Without sin. Without reason. BUT, His Light can penetrate the darkest dark. Recognizing the lies is the first step. I knew my head wasn't right, and needed some help. I shared. I was vulnerable. It took courage. But I was blown away by how many friends had also dwelled in their own exiles, even though they also loved Jesus. I was stunned actually by old and new friends who provided spiritual help by listening and sharing their own stories. They met me in the desert with Living Water and led me to find medical help, who gave me medicinal help, which provided my brain with chemical help.
I don't know why He put me in exile for a time. I learned I can't trust the voices in my head, only His truth. I learned my feelings don't always reflect His plans for me. I learned He was still in the desert with me, just as He was with the Jews when they wandered around all those long years. And, as I recall, some of His biggest miracles happened in the desert. I learned of a new, hidden promise that day, a hope. I learned that though I may be in exile for a time, He would gather me up and bring me back.
We are all broken, that's how the [L]ight gets in.