For the past couple of weeks I have been seeing glimpses of my depression coming back. There are a variety of reasons why, but for the most part, when life becomes too much, stress and anxiety begin to get the best of me. If I don’t rearrange some things in my life or create a new plan to tackle the day, I can find myself spiraling further and further into depression.
It has happened twice before in my life.
Both times were scary. Both times were dark. Both times brought out the worst in me.
As I started seeing these glimpses coming back, I heard of a pastor named Jarrid Wilson. A friend of mine knew him well and he shared that Jarrid also struggled with depression and was able to help so many people through suicidal thoughts and difficult times. But a couple of days ago, he committed suicide.
I wish I could say that I can only imagine what that darkness feels like, but I can relate a little bit more than I care to admit.
Fall of 2011, I felt like my whole world was falling apart. Between a death in the family, a breakup, preparing for college graduation, transitions at work, trying to figure out my finances, and a lot of other stuff, the darkness started to overcome me. That year, I was diagnosed with early stages of depression and it wasn’t until 2014 that a counselor looked at me and said: I think you’ve overcome your depression, now we just need to keep it this way.
But the experience leading up to that moment was miserable.
Waking up in the morning was the most difficult thing I had to do every day. The second hardest thing was pretending that everything was okay. If people knew I was depressed, they might start judging me. They might start thinking that the God I was preaching about was weak. They might start walking away from me because after all, who wants to spend time with someone who is depressed?
This dark season of my life led me to isolation. Eventually I couldn’t hide it anymore and the whole world knew that something was wrong. When my darkness became public, I chose to hide from the world. That only made things worse and in that isolation I started wondering if my presence even mattered in this world.
That’s when I reached out for help. I didn’t want to go down that path.
In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear of one of the disciples named Judas. If you recall the story, it was Judas who betrayed Jesus and turned him over to the authorities for 30 pieces of silver. After seeing what was going to happen to Jesus, Judas repented and took the money back to the chief priests. They wouldn’t take the money back. As he left, he was filled with shame and guilt. We are then told that “he went and hanged himself” after he left the chief priests.
Can you imagine what he must have felt? His world had fallen apart, the guilt and shame would not quit beating him down and hope of a better tomorrow was completely lost. The darkness was so great, that Judas felt like the only way to find relief was by committing suicide.
But here is the truth that we as Christians believe: the darkness will never overcome. God is too great and mighty for the darkness to overcome the presence of God. The same God who moves mountains, the same God who created the heavens and the earth, the same God who makes evil tremble, is the same God that makes darkness run.
And this God lives within you.
Yes, you are too weak to overcome this darkness on your own. But you are not facing this darkness alone. God is by our side and will help you overcome over and over again. Believe it or not, you can overcome what you are going through because God is giving you the power to do so.
See, I believe that when darkness looks us in the face, it looks at our heart too.
Darkness looks into our hearts to see whether or not we actually trust that the God who lives within us can help us overcome. When we don’t believe God can, the darkness gets darker. But when the darkness sees that we do trust God, the darkness begins to tremble.
I encourage you today to make your darkness tremble. Whatever you are going through, you don’t have to go through it alone. Reach out to a friend, a family member, even a counselor. Reach out to me and let’s talk. Get help and trust that people care about you enough to stand before your darkness and make it tremble.
Above all, hold tight to God. Hold tight to God’s promises. Trust that the God who dwells within you is greater than your darkness and that you can overcome this.
I say this as someone who has struggled through this darkness before, and is struggling through it today. I don’t have a cure for it, but I do know that I am standing here today because I have chosen to do two things: trust God and reach out for help.
I have spent the last couple of days sharing with my friends about my struggle, I have been making changes to my routine and I am reaching out to different counselors to have someone to process this darkness with. I am overcoming every day, and I know that you can too. We can do this together.
It is not easy. And I know that at times, the darkness feels overwhelming. But we have to trust that God can help us overcome. I choose to trust. Will you join me?
Together on the journey,
P.S. If you need someone to talk to, please reach out. I am always here to help, especially through depression. But if you are having suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-8255.
There are people who care and want to help so don’t be afraid to reach out.