Sure, the outside world sees what I allow them to see. Each of us, each day put on this thing I'd like to call, "Our Mask." Why do we do this? What purpose does it serve? When in the end, more times than not, that mask includes falsehood of who we really are. It shadows who we are, deep within the core of our soul. Do we put it on to save face? Do we wear it because we have shame? Do we wear it to appear stronger than we are?
I know all those reasons are only some of the reasons why I do this. It was something I was taught as a young child and has been a part of my life since. Now as a 42 year old mother of three, God has finally asked me to kindly, gently, and lovingly remove that mask and be transparent with those around me. So let me start by saying, "My struggles are real." The depression I have battled for many years is real. But what I have realized is the power to keeping me from falling so far deep into that depression like the time I was 16 and swallowed a bottle of pills, is that I have a shining light that helps me not remain in that darkness and despair.
I don't do this perfectly. There are moments, and lately quite a few of them, when the thoughts of worthlessness, ugliness, shame fill my mind as I hear the echoing words of "Everyone would be perfectly fine if I was no longer around. They would mourn your for a short while and move on. You are not that important." The battle of the mind is stronger than we realize.
For the last 4 months, this has been my place in life. Yes, all the posts you see on IG, Facebook and twitter paint a different picture. Why is that? Are we afraid to make people uncomfortable? Who made those rules? Isn't real unconditional love, love that accepts each one of us with all our trash? This is how God receives us. He accepts us with all our filth and garbage. I used to think He would only accept me and love me if my side of the street was cleaned up. Boy was I WRONG! If that were the case, I would have never crossed the street. In all my life, I have found only one person who tells me the truth, has heard my deepest shameful secrets, doesn't let me feel sorry for myself for too long and has loved me every step of the way. She loved me through it.
Depression is a real thing. And the enemy attacks full force when we are in that state, when we are at an all time low. When I find myself here, in this dark isolated place it becomes such a struggle to pray for anything or anyone, to like who I am, to be thankful for what I have, to read my bible but most of all it is difficult for me to be real. I find myself just going through the motions. The last few months I highly doubt anyone but my counselor and accountability partner even knew what I was struggling with. I have become that good in masking my feelings which is not something I'm NOT proud of. I didn't even realize how good I've become at it until my counselor pointed it out to me.
When I first began my one on one counseling and I expressed the deep hurts within my heart, I shared them with a smile. That is my mask. I've been taught that, to ask for help is burdensome. To let others know you are struggling is weak. That is NOT how God intended his people to live. We are to encourage and lift one another up. This is new for me. I am good at being the encourager but to allow others to support and encourage me....Well that is unheard of! Over the last few years, as I've become stronger in my faith God has also given me the strength and courage to change the unhealthy behaviors and cycles that were built within my family. I don't blame anyone for how I was raised because what my parents taught me and how they raised me were based on what they were taught. It was what worked for them and it is how they survived, but I know it doesn't work for me. I don't want my children to have to endure these same struggles. These unhealthy generational behaviors and thought patterns have to END with me.
So each day is a step of faith. I step forward and trust that God has placed solid ground below my feet even when my "feelings" deceive me in that truth. He has always been with me. His promises are unchanging. He is faithful each day and I am certain of this with the sunrise.
This past weekend I had the blessed opportunity to sit outside, enjoy my coffee, read a good book and allow myself to "hear" and "feel" God's presence. It seemed like such a long time since that heavy dark cloud has been lifted from my shoulders. I believe the power of the Holy Spirit flowed through each prayer of all the people who have been supporting me through this season and the power of prayer released the enemy's hold on my mind.
I have to remind myself daily that being "Fit for Christ" is not only about being fit physically, but mentally as well. The mental aspect is probably far more important than the physical. We have to change our minds to overcome the many obstacles that stop us in our tracks. When we renew our minds with truth, we can #beatdepression. So even during the struggle, be as aggressive as possible to muster the strength to share what you are going through with someone you trust, cry out to Jesus, read a devotional, keep going to church, rebuke the enemy, and allow people to pray for you! God speaks to us in different ways everyday.
My season is changing. The dead leaves are falling and I can feel new buds of life sprouting. Walking through the trenches is never easy. You feel stuck and like you will never get out. When that happens allow someone not to necessarily get into the mud with you, but allow them to reach down and pull you out of it! ♥