The last week has been a tough one for me, both emotionally and spiritually, and despite coming across as calm on the surface, I've felt anything but. On top of some current and looming life changes which are both exciting and terrifying, I have found myself thinking more deeply on a few different topics, namely the idea of family and my own personal experiences with both my biological and spiritual families. And it has been challenging to wade through all of the newly-discovered yet unresolved feelings I've encountered. In the middle of all of this, I happened upon this post and just about lost it. The line that really hit me was:
"Healing parts of your heart that you’ve once put to the side—whether to survive, to be strong, to avoid pain or take care of others—may be the most powerful act of faith that God is calling you to make today."
Ugh, yes. Feelings put aside to survive, to be strong, to care for others? Check, check, and check. I haven't talked about it too much, but I definitely have some wounds from my childhood, as I am sure that most of us do, and while I believe that I have worked through a number of them over the years through introspection and counseling, the truth is that there are always more layers. I've been candid in the past about my struggle with depression and self-injury as a teen (the latter of which whose urges I still deal with as an adult), but it wasn't until more recently that I started to really connect the dots between some of the feelings I'm currently walking through and situations from my childhood; things like role-reversal and co-dependence, having to be independent and self-sufficient at a young age, and plenty of emotional manipulation. They have all left big, gaping emotional wounds, some of which I realize I've only just begun to work through as an adult, which were left untouched for years because I simply couldn't deal with them as a child who was living in survival mode.
Now that I am meeting those feelings head on as an adult, I'm disgusted to admit that I've felt a sense of shame, like I shouldn't feel sad or angry or disappointed in what I've had to live through... which simply isn't right. I believe I've been under the false and very detrimental impression that I should be beyond feelings of or bouts with depression, because "I love Jesus and He loves me and so how could or why would I be depressed?" Even just typing that out makes me want to throw up, because I flat out do not believe that. Becoming a Christian doesn't erase problems — past, present, or future — and it sure as hell doesn't make the crap situations from childhood go away because "now I have Jesus." Is He able to give me strength to help get through the hard stuff? Absolutely. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be easier or less traumatizing. What believing in Jesus does do, however, is provide a more sure and steady foundation, a greater sense of hope, and Someone to walk alongside through the pain, especially pain from the past. This I know and believe with all of my heart.
I sense my Father beckoning me into a season of major healing, starting right here and right now. I feel Him tugging on my heart, drawing me deeper into those dark, hard places; the ones that make me cry and cringe and curse. But the beauty in this is not only that He can handle it, but He knows it all already. He has shown me that, in spite of myself and the many years I denied His existence, He was there, and He wants work with me through those things that have not only broken my heart, but His, too. So I am choosing to lean into my healing, one step at a time, no matter how difficult, because I know that Jesus is right by my side every step of the way.
Also, a little PSA: depression is not a dirty word, and should never be treated as such in the Christian community (or any community, for that matter). As a result of living in a broken world, we have all unfortunately walked through hard things and will undoubtedly encounter more, and while we may have Jesus, that doesn't mean we should ignore or suffocate our feelings. If you are sad, feel it. If you are angry, feel it. If you are disappointed, disillusioned, or depressed, feel it. Talk to your loved ones, and definitely talk to the Father. But don't disregard those feelings or buy into the lie that you're not allowed to feel them. Remember that our God is a good Father who is able and desires to walk with us through all things, especially the hard things, and that you have it in you to make it through because you are fiercely loved.
Lastly, if you think that you might be clinically depressed, check out the PHQ-9 Depression Health Questionnaire, and please consult a physician and/or trusted loved one if necessary.