I remember it.
I remember crying through the night and hating myself when I looked in the mirror and feeling betrayed and lost and hopeless and like there was no reason to even take another breath. It wasn’t every moment, but the waves of depression would come and settle, sometimes for weeks at a time.
And if I could go back, if I could whisper one thing to that girl who knew Jesus but was stumbling and hurting and wondering—I would tell her this deep abiding reality:
God is looking on you with compassion.
My depression was this horrible agony of feeling like I was a failure at everything. I was failing my husband, my friends, my family, even my own body. But mostly, I was failing my ideals for myself.
The hidden truth was that I had made myself into such an idol, all my failings crushed my hope. Then, in that empty state, I knew I had failed the greatest thing of all—I had failed the God who saved me.
Yet, all the while I was making myself a judge and jury for my heart, God was looking on me with such compassion. He wasn’t angry. He wasn’t disappointed. He wasn’t confused at my failings.
He was holding out all the healing I needed, right in His hands, and He was filled with compassion.
It had been a long day. One thing after another had come up with our daughter. When we got to the heart of the issue, it all came out in brokenness and tears. She looked right at me and said, “I didn’t tell you because I don’t trust, Mom. I know I should. I know you love me. But in the moment, I don’t trust that you do. I just feel that you’ll be angry at me for all of it and especially for not trusting you!”
And I looked right at her and said the truth—that I wasn’t angry. I get it. I know she has been abandoned and rejected. I know she has broken relationships and walked through intense loneliness. I get that trust isn’t easy!
So I have complete compassion for her.
I know her. And I love her.
I may correct her and I may discipline her and I may plead with her—but my root feeling is always going to be compassion for wherever she is.
She’s my daughter. My precious, miracle daughter.
I’m not going to judge her harshly. I’m going to hold out my arms to her and cry tears with her and whisper prayers for healing.
If I could go back, I’d tell myself the deepest truth I know: you are a daughter.
And your Father gets it. He knows.
He saw all the rejection, all the failings, all the things you’ve done and everything done to you. He knows the root issues. He knows about how trust is so hard for you. He knows about the way you make yourself into an idol, and then become your own judge and jury and label yourself unfit for love. He knows how you condemn yourself.
And He whispers promises over you. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. I have given you the spirit of sonship– I have made you my daughter, adopted you into my family. I know where you came from, all those hidden places in your heart, but you get my name. My home. The hope of life with family. I know it all and I’ve claimed you as mine.
And then He offers the greatest gift of all. He says, Walk with me. Walk in light. Walk in hope. Walk with your hand in mine, allow your whole life to bear the stamp of Christ.
I eventually figured it out. I eventually connected that all the failures I saw in myself weren’t the whole truth.
Until I faced infertility in marriage, I walked loudly for God. Which was good. But I needed to come closer. I needed to listen harder. I needed my unseen places to get bigger so I could see more clearly.
So God gave me this gift– He gave me the crushing of all my dreams.
Depression was rooted in my belief that I had to produce something of value to have value. That if I truly followed God, I would do better, be better, have better. (And I certainly wouldn’t be depressed!) That I couldn’t actually stand and face the sin that had marred my soul with it’s ugliness or I would be forever marked by it.
And the Father knew that I needed to learn to choose trust so I could be healed. He wasn’t content for me to wallow there. But He wasn’t angry over it! He wasn’t disappointed by it.
He was compassionate.
And just like I have done with my daughter, He held me when I came face to face with it. Then step by halting step, He taught me the true things. There in the quiet, in the hidden places. There where all my idols were crumbled under my feet and all that was left was Him and His grace and mercy.
For a whole year I worked at memorizing Romans 8 and I would say it every single day, over and over and over. Because even when I didn’t feel like it, I was a daughter. Even when I felt agonized and fearful and scared that this dark place would be my life forever, I wasn’t a slave to it. Jesus had set me free and He was still setting me free and I clung to that truth with everything I had.
There are so many who face depression. Some who believe it’s a lifelong battle, so they just adjust to it. Some who believe they can overcome it by sheer force of will.
But I don’t believe either for myself.
I know the compassion of the Father now. I know the power of His grace. And I know the healing that happens in the hidden places.
It’s a battle, but it won’t last forever if you are turning your face to Jesus. You can find complete healing in the One who knows every secret, every sorrow, every dream, every loss.
So I whisper this truth to you, the one struggling and fighting and crying yourself to sleep at night in confusion and pain: God is full of compassion for you.
I pray you are able to taste His compassion, that you will hear His voice saying, “This is my son.” or “This is my daughter.” Because if you are in Christ, you are family.
And His compassion for you is never ending.
Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven. (from Romans 8)