Fighting for joy.

I crave transparency. I desire authenticity. I want vulnerability. In a world of filters and screens I long for realness. I love simplicity which contradicts my tendency to over commit but nonetheless I love simpleI want to know people struggle like me and that people don’t have it all together all of the time. I strive to be transparent in my own life and it’s no different on this blog. I write about life, my life. I share as much as I can about what I’m learning on my journey to live on mission – to follow Jesus’ model of love.

So, in the spirit of being transparent I wanted to share my struggle with depression. I know this is a sensitive topic. I know each situation is different. No one has the same story but I’ve learned a few things on my journey to freedom. And freedom is a really wonderful place to live. I love freedom so much I had it tattooed on my wrist so I would never forgot to walk in freedom.

Let me start with saying I’m a huge advocate for mental health. I truly believe a healthy mind breeds a healthy life. I see a counselor monthly to make sure I feel balanced. I don’t want to find out I’m suppressing something which could lead to bigger things. I want to be a healthy wife and mom (God-willing). I want to be good for people.

It took me four years and three months to realize I had been living with depression. I now refer to it as functioning depression. I lived life. I went places. I wasn’t one of those characters on the commercials. I have some good memories during those years but I also remember wasting too much time questioning why I wasn’t happy. In March 2013 something inside me snapped and I realized I had choices. I didn’t have to feel this way anymore.

And so, I decided to fight. Sweet friends, you have to fight every day for joy. Acknowledge your feelings, yes. I’ll be walking through the house and I feel this overwhelming sadness for no apparent reason. I stop. I say (sometimes out loud), “I feel really sad,” I acknowledge it but I don’t let it take over. I fight it. I wake up in the morning saying today I choose joy. The enemy is very real. He wants to destroy you but in subtle ways. At least in my experience it’s the small things and left unattended they keep piling up. I know what it’s like to wake up sad, to just survive the day and start all over the next day. Never again! I choose to fight for joy relentlessly every day of my life.

I also, decided to share. I started talking with trusted friends about my struggles. I shared my story. I found other women who had similar stories. I realized I could encourage woman who were in the same situation. I was finding healing through encouraging others. I was being transparent. I didn’t leave out any details to save face. I knew I had made some poor choices which led to years of depression. I wasn’t proud of my behavior but my story wouldn’t have an impact and I wouldn’t find healing if I tried to make myself look good while sharing my struggles.

Most importantly I dropped to my knees and prayed with my face on the floor. I prayed the most honest and real prayer. And when I wasn’t strong enough to pray for myself I’d ask people to pray for me. I was transparent. I was vulnerable. I was real. It’s so difficult these days to weed through real from filtered but I didn’t have time to be anything other than real. I needed prayer and healing. I was tired of just surviving.

As I prepare to close, I don’t want it seem as though I’m trying to simplify depression. But I want you to know you have what it takes to choose joy in the midst of any circumstance. You have what it takes to fight the fight and win. And you have a very big God who has placed exactly what you need inside of you to thrive not just survive. I’m praying for me and I’m praying for you. My PopPop, who went to be with Jesus in May, told my momma, “It’s okay to pray for yourself,” and I think he knew if we don’t get ourselves right we can’t be of help to others.

I don’t always choose joy. Sometimes I just want to be sad. I get tired and it seems like too much work to choose joy but I know I have the freedom to decide. My story is still being written and so is yours. Let’s make it a joyful one.

I found this link helpful: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-shall-we-fight-for-joy

3 thoughts on “Fighting for joy.

  1. This is such a heartfelt part of the journey of your life. I am so proud of you for getting through a dark period and realizing God was the answer and the crazy thing is He was there all the time; sometimes we just can’t see Him. Through your journey, as your mother, you have taught me so many valuable lessons along the way…the first and one of the most important for me was…choose JOY! Don’t get bogged down in the day to day “stuff” that I have no control over anyway. My daddy did tell me “Kathy, it’s okay to pray for yourself;” and this was during a very difficult time in his life when all I wanted to do was pray for him and beg God to make him well. God did, daddy is in heaven with Jesus; his life long goal has been met. My life is heading into a new chapter as I gain a son and hopefully (God-willing) grandbabies; whatever God puts before me I want to accept with an open heart, mind, soul and especially JOY! Thank you my precious daughter for the wonderful, amazing, talented woman you are. I love you bunches!

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  2. Suzanne, I read very few blogs because of time restraints but I always look forward to your next post. Why? Because what you write is real, honest, open, and transparent. That requires a rare combination of courage and faith. I also suffer from depression. I have for years. It is not uncommon for people immersed in ministry to struggle with depression. I’m not sure why. Martin Luther, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham are just a few of the great names of the faith that have been down this lonely road. Take heart. When we feel most alone is when God is closest to us.

    By the way, congratulations on your engagement. May you and your future husband be richly blessed.

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