Just sharing my brokenness…

My heart is heavy today. I’m not depressed, but there is a brokenness emerging from deep within that has me feeling gutted. I’m not sure why really, but I feel very much like my life matters little to those outside my tiny circle of family and a couple of casual friends. So, here in this blog, which few ever read (and I don’t think any of my so-called friends do or follow), I’m going to unload this brokenness for my very few “subscribers.” Maybe you will pray that the Lord will encourage my heart, today.

“Lord, why did you ask me to spend so many years of my life to detail what you taught me Lord, only to be dismissed once again, by my supposed friends? Why did you ask me to do something that would cause me so much pain? It guts me over and over and over again. I wish I could just crawl into a hole and disappear.”

"O Lord, You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; Everyone mocks me. For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, because for me the word of the Lord has resulted in reproach and derision all day long. But if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,” then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire, shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it. For I have heard the whispering of many…Denounce him; yes, let us denounce him!” All my trusted friends, watching for my fall, say: “Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him and take our revenge on him.”… Why did I ever come forth from the womb to look on trouble and sorrow, so that my days have been spent in shame?" Jeremiah’s Complaint (Jeremiah 20:1-10,18)

First a little history for those of you who don’t know me: I was once well-known in my denominational circles. Both me and my husband have large families and not only were our “families” quite involved in our church and religious circles, but both my husband and I were both very active in ministry. From the time we were in high school, we were already being placed in leadership roles which grew from teachers, to children’s ministry director, to youth directors, to youth pastor, and finally to being full time senior pastor (Bill).

Our circle of “friends” was large! The network of ministry workers of which we were a part was large. We knew everyone it seemed, and everyone knew us, either because they knew our family, or they had attended one of our churches or whatever. We both counted ourselves blessed to have so many “friends” and partners in ministry all over the pacific northwest. It was a great life – back then.

Then…it started crumbling. The first major heartache was a church split. We tried very hard to respond in a godly way to that which was very hard to do when the lies and accusations began flying around. Our first denominational pastor’s retreat following that bloodbath was that September, and do you know what? From the co-workers we believed were friends, we were treated like the plaque. Only two couples even talked to us.  Only one person even asked us to share our side of the story. The whispers behind our backs made us feel like we had leprosy. This is the first time that we realized that the “friends” we thought we had, weren’t, and discovered that, in fact, we had maybe only one or two. It was heart-crushing. Evidently, we only were able to maintain those friendships when we were part of the good ‘ol boy group. And, it was obvious that compassion and grace from this group of so-called pastors and religious leaders would never come our way; they weren’t friendships, after all, evidently.

Not long after, probably as a result of the former church split bloodbath, I was diagnosed with a deep, dark clinical depression that lasted over a decade. Other than our little church plant, we continued to be ostracized by our former group of ministry partners and by our former friends. You see, in our association, depression is generally seen as a sin that needs to be healed by embracing biblical principles. Medical depression isn’t accepted as a reason for depression. During this time, a few friends popped in and out of our lives, but I admit it was difficult for me to invest in these friendships when I was so sick. The few times people from our past met with us, I believe, were probably only a way for those people to ease their own consciences because of the way they had turned their backs on us.

Praise the Lord, God healed me of my depression in 2014. I returned to Facebook to begin to boldly make corrections to the false beliefs that were being proliferated on social media about depression, and much to my surprise, people seemed to lap it up, as I was uncovering so many of the mysteries of depression. Depression is so completely “alien” to those who have never experienced it. I felt the first thing that needs to happen is that believers and the church need to understand what is actually broken to actually be of any help to the depressed; and I experienced so much emotional abuse from the church because they just had no idea what they were doing in terms of the depressed.

The second thing I tried to clear up on Facebook was that though depression devastates your spiritual life, just as much as it devastates every other part of your life, it isn’t because depression is a sin. It is because so much of your spiritual health needs a healthy mind to function properly. This was harder to understand for people, but some said they appreciated the insight; I mean who knows, really because Facebook is Facebook (those “likes” and “loves” are really worthless indicators of appreciation).

The third thing I tried to share was that BECAUSE of this helplessness in depression, God showed me that so much of what is being taught in our churches is behavior-focused and not God-focused. It’s so important to embrace the gospel of Jesus’ righteousness, His grace and His mercy if anyone is going to be able to bear up under the weight of depression’s oppressiveness. People seemed to hoorah God’s grace and mercy; few realized that they were actually the ones whose lack of grace and mercy beat down the depressed.

Anyway, about 5 years after God healed me, God prompted me to write my story. All of it. How it started. What it looks like from inside the illness. What made my spiritual life nearly impossible in the pit of depression. What God taught me about Himself and His incredible love, compassion, grace and mercy during those awful years. And most importantly, how God revealed to me how much of my former Christian experience taught me to build my spiritual life upside down, inward-focused on behavior and not upward-focused on God, and how that had to change before I could begin to make peace with what could have possibly been a lifetime of that hellish existence. It took me three years to exhaustively detail the testimony of my depressive illness and God’s retraining me to embrace the gospel. Finally, it was finished.

At that time, social media told me I had about 700 “friends.” (Don’t ever trust social media.) I had so many “likes” and “loves” and “atta-girls” on Facebook. I thanked God that maybe reading my book would help the Christian community understand depression and be able to better help the depressed in their families and churches. You know what happened? Crickets……….

Now, I admit that my book is LONG…. It is exhaustive. I get that. But there’s something for everyone in this book. It helps the family member understand what is going on behind the curtain of depression, so that they can be a better support to their depressed family member. Same with friends. It helps pastors who have no idea how much they are hurting the depressed. And it shares with the depressed how I learned to cope with the insidious illness both physically, mentally, and most important, spiritually. Personally, I believe that if people would actually read what God told me to write, it could be a very powerful resource. But… again… crickets…..

Evidently, people aren’t interested in reading about depression, nor reading how to actually support friends and loved ones with depression. I don’t have any former ministry leaders or pastors who want to read my testimony, nor learn from what God taught me during that period of suffering, nor are they willing to invest in reading what could help them minister to the depressed. Evidently, they have it all figured out, already. And, to my regret, my story is too long for a deeply depressed person to read. All that work—all that heartache, now has no meaning for anyone, and once again, the depressed have little hope of being understood or ministered to in any beneficial way. It breaks my heart. I’m sorry, my depressed friends, that I have failed you.

I feel like the weeping prophet, Jeremiah. Sigh. At times, I’m even angry that God asked me to write something so personal that nobody would be willing to read. The writing was guttural, reliving it and trying to detail what nobody outside of depression understands. So, there it is…my heartache. Posted on this ‘lil ‘ol blog of mine, which isn’t important enough for even one friend to read.

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